High School Core Team

Samantha De Palo, BA, M.Ed.High School Director
Sam was an instructor for On-Track Tutoring and Academy (prior to our school’s name change) while she attended ASU’s Barrett Honors College. After graduating, Sam went to Mexico as a Fulbright Scholar; there, she autonomously taught university courses, launched an English language Book Club to promote healthy literacy practices, & honed her own Spanish fluency. Upon her return, Sam became a Teach For America Corps Member. At a local public high school, she taught Spanish & math, spearheaded a district-wide Collaborative STEM Initiative, oversaw the AVID program, & was honored as a Teacher of Distinction for student growth. Sam also has extensive experience helping students with college prep & entrance exams. She earned her M.Ed. just before rejoining our team in 2016. Recently, Sam was honored as an appointee of the Barrett Campaign Cabinet at her alma matter.
Mike DeLaura, BA, MAHistory
A tutor (with our affiliate On-Track Tutoring) and teacher since 2006, Mike holds degrees in History from ASU and Central Michigan University. He has worked extensively with students for over a decade, ages 5 to 18, as a mentor, tutor, and role-model. He possesses a unique ability to make History and Language Arts relatable, fun, & interesting for students, and has had the distinction of igniting a passion for history in students who previously found it boring and irrelevant. His favorite aspects of teaching are when students gain an understanding for a subject and engage in critical thinking, helping students to achieve their goals, & seeing them thrive.
Josh Murray, BA, M.Ed.English, Mandarin
Josh joined the JGS team in 2017. He studied East Asia culture & linguistics as an undergrad at ASU. After earning his BA, he joined Teach for America and taught English & college prep courses—while simultaneously obtaining his master’s. “I’m an ‘outside-the-box’ thinker, and I apply that way of thinking to every lesson I deliver.” That creativity & dedication is exemplified by a news-making promise that he made (and kept!) to a group of his students, many of whom had thought that college was out of reach: “If every one of you can get at least $5,000 in college scholarships, then I’ll get a tattoo with all of your names.” With his guidance, every student gained college acceptance & together they earned a total of $700,000+ in scholarships! We are thrilled to have Josh (& his enthusiasm!) continue to benefit JGS students.
Jennifer Nimlo-Edmonds, BASpanish & Electives
Jen graduated from Whitman College with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. She has worked within Arizona to serve youth, as her own life was greatly shaped by purposeful and dynamic teachers and mentors. Jennifer’s professional journey has taken her from mentor programs to prevention programs to twelve years at (JGS affiliate) On-Track Tutoring to special education classrooms and, FINALLY, back to On-Track and JGS!
Leigh Stapinski, BS, MSMathematics
An On-Track Tutor and Jones-Gordon teacher since 2011, Leigh is a gifted, dynamic teacher. At Bowling Green State University, Leigh studied Adolescent/Young Adult Mathematics Education. Before moving to Arizona, she taught in Ohio for 6 years with a focus on high school mathematics, particularly Geometry and Algebra. She is a math master in the classroom; you haven’t witnessed differentiated math instruction until you’ve seen her teach! Leigh is an active learner herself; she recently completed her master’s degree in―you guessed it―Mathematics.
Tesla Theoryn, BS, M.Ed.Science
Tesla holds an undergraduate science degree & M.Ed. in Instructional Practice. With a deep passion for all things science & its interplay with culture, she was driven to study biological anthropology at the U of A. It wasn’t until she spent a semester in Botswana completing her biology and public health minors that she realized that education was the true cornerstone of her interests. While teaching at a Botswanan preschool for children affected by HIV/AIDS, she saw the true impacts that education can have. Eager to integrate her belief in the power of science to her newfound love of education, she joined the Teach for America Corps & taught high school biology in Nashville while simultaneously earning her M.Ed. (suma cum laude). Tesla is happy to “be a part of the innovative work being done at Jones-Gordon. I believe that science is the key to understanding our own realities, and that all children deserve a rigorous science education!”