Education Advisors

Gillian Simcox

Principal, San Diego & Riverside

Hello! My name is Gillian Simcox. I was born in Northwest England, in an area known as the Lake District, and lived there until I was 13. I have lived in San Diego since then and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else! I graduated from California State University San Marcos  (CSUSM)  in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Sociology, then completed my multiple subject teaching credential in 2000  (also at CSUSM). More recently, I earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis in educational technology from National University. I’m currently finishing up my administrative credential, and my next goal is to work on a single subject credential in science.  (I love school!) I’ve had quite a wide range of teaching experiences, including teaching in the traditional public school setting, teaching in a private school setting, and working with homeschooled students through public charter schools. My husband, Mark, and I have been married since April 2005. We have a miniature Schnauzer named Baron. My hobbies include photography, hiking, biking, jogging, and Tai Chi and Kung Fu.


Jennifer Carrete

Principal, Orange County

My name is Jennifer Carrete and I am proud to be a home school teacher and administrator with National University Academy Charter in the Orange County area.  I grew up in Big Bear and spent several years in the Reno and Tahoe areas before moving to Southern California and settling in San Clemente. I have two sons and love learning alongside them and taking them on adventures in the outdoors. Prior to working with home school families, I spent 10 years teaching at a brick and mortar charter school in Reno, where I taught third and fourth grades, and served as the school’s intervention coordinator and ESL coordinator. I completed my student teaching in a GATE program, as well as a dual immersion first-grade classroom. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Sierra Nevada College. I completed the BCLAD teaching credential program through Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, earned my master’s degree through University of Nevada, Reno, and just recently earned my administrative credential. I strongly believe that parents are a child’s best teacher, and am passionate about supporting families in their educational endeavors.


Stefani Clanton

Education Advisor, Orange & Riverside Counties

My name is Stefani Clanton. I was born and raised in Hermosa Beach, CA, which probably explains why I love the ocean so much. I left this beautiful city to attend the University of California, Irvine where I studied social ecology specializing in psychological development. While working in the social work field, I realized that I wanted to become a teacher, which lead me to get my teaching credential at Cal State Long Beach. As a teacher, I had the opportunity to work as an administrator and because I loved this job so much, I went on to get a master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton in educational administration as well as my administrative credential.

My husband I have been married for 20 years and have been blessed with three amazing boys. Together as a family, we enjoy traveling, hiking, going to the beach, and just being together. On a personal level, I love photography, paddle boarding, spending time in nature, and attempting to surf. I count each day as a gift and want to live it to the fullest.


Elizabeth Derr

Education Advisor, San Diego & Riverside Counties

Hello, I’m Liz Derr, and I’m so happy to be serving families at the National University Academy Home School. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, and have taught English for many years. I also home schooled my daughters for grades K through 8. My hobbies are working out, reading, going to the beach, spending time with my family, and caring for my Poodle. I am excited to be a part of the NUA team, serving students and working at the NUA education center sites in San Diego.


Michelle Hass

Education Advisor, Orange County

Hello, my name is Michelle Hass. I am thrilled to serve home school families as an education advisor with National University Academy! After receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Cal State Fullerton, I went on to earn my teaching credential from Concordia University and my master’s degree from National University. I have had the privilege of serving the home school community for the past 12 years. It has truly been a pleasure to walk alongside, encourage, and assist home school families as they work to achieve their family and educational goals. The passion and determination that drives the home school community is inspiring. I am proud to be part of National University Academy, a school that supports this community with professionalism, personalization, and incredible enrichment opportunities!

I reside in Orange County with my amazing husband and four wonderful sons. One of my life’s greatest joys has been homeschooling our sons. In my free time, I love playing games with my family, watching their soccer games, exercising, and reading.


Heather Hemmelgarn

Education Advisor, Orange County

Hello, my name is Heather Hemmelgarn. I have had the opportunity to home school my two sons through National University Academy and have come to know and love the NUA community and staff. I chose to become an education advisor with NUA, because I wanted to give back to the community that has done so much for my family and me.

I live in north Tustin with my wonderful husband, three amazing children, and our lovable chocolate Lab. I enjoy yoga and going on outdoor adventures with my family. Before beginning my homeschool journey, I taught elementary school with Tustin Unified for 10 years. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UC Riverside and a teaching credential through Chapman University.

I believe that homeschooling allows children to learn at their own pace and pursue their interests. I am amazed by all the choices and opportunities that are available within the home school community and am excited to help others on their homeschooling journey.


Shawn Johnson

Education Advisor, San Diego & Orange Counties

My name is Shawn Johnson and I’m thrilled to have recently joined the National University Academy staff! I grew up in San Diego, attended UC Berkeley and USC, and reside now in San Clemente. I have two young sons who keep me on my toes and bring enormous love to my life. In my free time, I relish the wonder and beauty of nature and animals, I love to read and learn, and engage in physical activities. I returned to education after 12 years in outside sales, having found myself missing the fresh perspectives of children and passion for teaching. As a parent now, I value the role of home school parents tremendously and look forward to supporting my families in their quest.


Megan Perkins

Education Advisor, San Diego County

My name is Megan Perkins, and I am so excited to join the NUA Home School San Diego team! I have been teaching at National University Academy’s Dual Language Institute for the past three years, and have been working in education for over 10 years. I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University, and earned my multiple subjects teaching credential from California State University: Stanislaus.

I am a San Diego native. My husband and I recently had our first child; a daughter named Ryann. It has been wonderful starting my own family. I enjoy playing soccer, reading, playing with my two dogs, and watching “The Amazing Race.” I look forward to being a part of the home school community and having a fantastic school year!


Jennifer Schutza

Education Advisor, Orange County

My name is Jennifer Schutza and I am pleased to be serving National University Academy in Orange County as a home school teacher. I graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston and taught general music to grades K-6 for four years in both Massachusetts and California. Several years ago, I went back to school and earned my California multiple subjects credential with a supplementary authorization in music and a master’s in education. I have taught second and third grades in Ontario and Santa Ana schools as a general education teacher with a focus on language arts interventions. I joined the home school staff in 2012 and love working with our amazing families! I have two teenagers who keep me very busy and a sweet Golden Retriever who keeps me calm! In my spare time, I enjoy singing with the band at church, spending time with friends, and traveling. It is a privilege to be working with the wonderful home school families in Orange County!


April Sonnenberg

Education Advisor, Orange County

Hello, I am April Sonnenberg and I’m grateful to be serving the home school community at National University Academy. I earned my California bilingual teaching credential from Chapman University. I taught first and second grades in the public school system. I had the privilege of homeschooling my sons when they were in kindergarten and first grade. I experienced the wonderful opportunities and challenges a homeschooling family can face. I’m excited to share my passion for foreign language at our Tustin Enrichment Center. In my spare time, my wonderful husband and I enjoy spending time outdoors with our boys and volunteering at their various activities.


Jenna Yates

Education Advisor, Orange County & Tustin Enrichment Center Coordinator

Hi! My name is Jenna Yates and I am excited to be a part of such a great parent/teacher community at National University Academy! Before starting this new teaching journey with homeschooling, I taught in a traditional school setting for over 10 years. Through my experiences in the classroom and in my own home, I understand how important a strong support system and open communication are in every aspect of a child’s education. I look forward to offering the families at National University Academy the support necessary for every child to feel successful.

I reside in south Orange County and have been married for 17 years to a wonderful husband and amazing father. We have a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son that are active in school and sports, which is where I spend the majority of my spare time. When I’m not at the baseball field or watching soccer, I enjoy exercising, hiking, and spending time with my family.