Kirsten O’Malley, M.A.T., Executive Director & Founder
With degrees from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and Vermont’s premier School for International Training, Kirsten holds a double Master’s in English and Spanish Language Teaching and a K-12 teaching certificate. An experienced educator and administrator, she has earned a reputation as a lively and knowledgeable teacher with extensive training in cutting-edge language teaching techniques, educational software, and holistic approaches to encouraging student success. Her years of experience in public and private education, interest in local school policies, and graduate work in language education have provided Kirsten with a unique understanding of the challenges facing students today. She shares what she knows and actively seeks out professional development opportunities to remain at the top of her field.
Kirsten is currently enjoying the pleasure of working with the Issaquah Schools Foundation as a board member and former Secretary (’07-’08), and VP of Programs (’08-’10). She’s currently a Programs Manager for the After-School Free Homework Labs at each area high school. Community involvement is important to Kirsten and she has served the Sammamish community as the 2005 President of the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce, sitting on the SAMMI Awards of Distinction Advisory Board (’05), and serving as the Head Interviewer for the SAMMI Awards Business Category (’06-’08) and Teen Spirit Category (’09). Kirsten was also a 2006 student of the inaugural class of Leadership Eastside, a leadership development program focused on enhancing leadership capabilities and building a regional perspective. Under Leadership Eastside, Kirsten was a member of a team exploring Civic Engagement on the Eastside and is (still!) learning the methods and techniques of Appreciative Inquiry.
Mishele Smith, MA, Assistant Director
Mishele Smith oversees the day-to-day operations and helps to support PLA staff and tutors to create an exceptional experience for all PLA families. Mishele comes has an extensive science education background with 15 years of classroom experience and seven years of online educational leadership. Her passion is developing personalized methods to enable each student to be successful in academics. With a Master’s in Multicultural Education and soon a Ph.D. in Education, Mishele has dedicated her efforts to progressive education for families looking for options outside the regular school system. Mishele’s hobbies include spending time with her family, traveling, hiking and camping or reading a good book.
Mary Davis, M. Ed., Academic Coordinator
Mary is a long-time educator and University of Washington graduate (BA History and M.Ed. Special Education). She has been teaching in the Seattle/Eastside area for close to 20 years, including ESL in the Bellevue District and several LA/SS blocks (Spanish/English immersion) at the middle school level. Mary has also taught in the Spanish Immersion program at Puesta Del Sol in the Bellevue School District. In addition to teaching Spanish, History and Study Skills here at Pacific Learning Academy, Mary also serves as an Academic Coordinator, educating parents and the community on educational opportunities for all learners.
Karen Zeivel, Administrative Assistant
Karen Zeivel is a 30-year Sammamish resident. She has been involved in our local schools as a classroom helper, PTSA board member, and substitute classroom aid in both mainstream and special education. In addition to public school volunteerism and leadership, Karen has also provided administrative support for Montessori/private education before coming to The Learning Curve in 2010.