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New Teacher Announcements for 2018-2019 Academic Year

May 22, 2018 | by pac-admin

Pacifica is committed to hiring men and women steeped in the Christian faith who are highly competent teachers, content masters, and committed to being highly relational with high school students. With these things in mind, we are thrilled to announce the hiring of Shaun Williams as History & Theology teacher, Brittny Birrell as Science teacher, and Erin O’Brien as Fine Arts teacher.

Each of these teachers possesses the Pacifica qualities we require and will add in rich and meaningful ways to our school and community. We can hardly wait to introduce you to them this fall. For your benefit, short biographies for each new faculty member is included below.

As is befitting our community, let us give thanks to our Lord for his provision and his mercy as we seek to think and live well in and through all things.

Mr. Tom Destefano, Mathematics Department Chair—Mr. Destefano is a seasoned mathematics teacher with over 25 years of mathematics teaching experience, having taughtTom every high school mathematics course during his career. He has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Grove-City College as well as a single subject mathematics credential from California State University of Long Beach. From 2004-2017 Mr. Destefano’s students maintained a 4 average on the AP Calculus exam. Mr. Destefano also has a significant business background in engineering and was frequently cited as a favorite teacher by his students. 

MShauns. Shaun Williams, History & Theology—Shaun grew up in Whittier, California in a large, loud, debate-loving family. She attended Biola University, earning her Bachelor of Arts in History and studying the Great Books of Western Civilization in the Torrey Honors Institute. She earned a Masters of Arts in Philosophy from Loyola Marymount University.

For 14 years Shaun has taught the Great Books of Western Civilization to students of all ages, including undergraduates in the Torrey Honors Institute and, most recently, middle school students at The Geneva School in Laguna Woods.  

Of the many literary works Shaun loves, she especially enjoys the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Alfred Lord Tennyson, the fiction and non-fiction of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. She and her husband, Jonathan, attend Christ Church Presbyterian in Irvine. They have two daughters, ages five and three. Before having kids, Shaun and Jonathan spent their free time reading, taking walks, and watching movies. After having kids, Shaun and Jonathan talk about how they used to have free time.

Ms. Brittny BirBrittnyrell, Science—Brittny, a seasoned biology and chemistry teacher of seven years, is thrilled to be joining the Pacifica family. While she was raised in Orange County, she has spent the past decade pursuing her education and teaching experiences across Montana, England, and Arizona. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Cellular Biology and Neuroscience from Montana State University. Ms. Birrell spent a final year at the University of Exeter in Devon, England where she focused in Biosciences. While attending both universities, Brittny volunteered in the tutoring lab helping students with introductory chemistry and biology coursework. Brittny followed her passion for education to Chrysalis Boarding School in Montana where she spent two years as a teaching fellow, and then to BASIS Peoria in Arizona where she spent four years teaching biology and chemistry. The more Brittny taught, the more she fell in love with the profession. While at Chrysalis, she developed an SAT and ACT prep class and tutored students through their AP exams. At BASIS, Ms. Birrell helped her students outperform other charter schools in the network on their cumulative final by taking the highest scores for two years in a row. She created a Human Anatomy elective and founded co-curriculars including Pre-Med Club, JV Science Bowl, and Brain Bee Neuroscientists. Through all these experiences, God continued to grow her heart and mind for teaching until it was time to call her home to California.

Brittny and her 11-month-old daughter, Embry, will be relocating this summer and are eager to get out and enjoy all that Southern California has to offer. Brittny is an avid runner and is training for a half marathon this upcoming winter. In the meantime, you can likely find her hiking in Laguna Beach, playing a video game, reading a fantastic piece of science fiction at a local coffee shop, and enjoying all the many blessings of motherhood.

ErErinin O’Brien, Fine Arts—Erin graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, with emphases in drawing and painting. She was awarded her first solo exhibition in the Helen Lindhurst Fine Art Gallery, a competitive juried gallery space on the USC campus in Los Angeles. The exhibition, a series of oil portraits titled Faceless, ran through February of 2015. From January to October 2017, the exhibition was recreated, with the addition of a few newer oil works, at The Gallery at Grace in Costa Mesa. While she loves to experiment with different mediums, her true artistic passion lies in oil painting and graphite drawing, with a strong emphasis on realism and portraiture. Her work is influenced by painters likes Manet, Edward Hopper, and Michael Borremans. Her experience studying abroad in Florence, Italy, also continues to impact her work. It gave her a deeper understanding of its art historical context, and the profound importance of art as a reflection and influencer of culture. She sees her identity as both a follower of Jesus and an artist as an opportunity to reveal God’s beauty in a fresh way, and connect with believers and non-believers alike.

Erin currently resides in Huntington Beach. She is an active, life-long member of Grace Fellowship Church in Costa Mesa, where she has served in the children’s ministry, and currently serves as a singer on the worship team. Some of her other loves include art history, literature, live music, travel, cooking, and yoga.