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Excel High School Staff

Chief Academic Officer / President

Mr. Mark Ulven, M.Ed

Mr. Mark Ulven, M.Ed

serves the critical role of President and Chief Academic Officer for Excel Schools. Mark is a State licensed educator and has taught both math and science for many years in the public school arena. Mark is passionate about education and online learning. Mark received his M.Ed from St. Mary's University and is currently completing his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Capella University. Mark joined the team at EHS to assist with the school's mission and goals related to continuing quality improvement and a student centered approach to learning.

Prior to coming to Excel, Mark worked for Capella University, where he played a vital role ensuring student success.

Mark is married and has two children. Mark's Blog

Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Rod Clarkson, M.A.

Mr. Rod Clarkson, M.A.

is the founder and CEO of Excel High School. With a background in business and technology, Mr. Clarkson realized the value in providing alternative educational opportunities for students in need of quality education services.

Rod holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Leadership and a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling. Rod also holds Private School Administrator's certification. Mr. Clarkson is a good standing member of the American School Counselor Association and the National Christian Counselors Association.

Rod has a strong background in executive leadership and genuinely cares about each student that we have the opportunity to serve.

Rod is passionate about serving others and volunteers with various community outreach efforts. In addition, Rod also volunteers as a family counselor assisting individuals and families through crisis situations. Rod spends a month each summer, serving overseas mostly with organizations focused on caring for orphan children.

Rod enjoys spending his free time with his family and close friends. Rod's Blog

Chief Information Officer

Mr. Koorosh Vaziri

Mr. Koorosh Vaziri

has been with Excel since our inception. He is the talent behind our student information management system; and manages all aspects of the school’s technology infrastructure.

Mr. Vaziri has several MS certifications as well and a degree in software engineering. Koorosh is a vital part of the Excel team and works closely with the senior management team to make Excel a great school. Koorosh spends his free time with his wife and close friends.

Math/English Instructor

Johanna Black, M.Ed

Johanna has been a California high school teacher for 8 years teaching both Math and English. She attended Chapman University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a Master’s degree in Special Education. She works with a local community college to help ease the transition from high school to college. Johanna also is a master teacher as she supervises student teachers for her alumni. In addition, she serves on a grant committee to collaborate with other educators to identify problems and develop local solutions in the areas of English and Math.

I joined the Excel High School team to continue encouraging students that anything is possible!

Mentor - Spanish Instructor

Derek V. Drago. M. Ed.

coordinates Excel’s Spanish programs, including our Spanish High School Equivalency program, and also develops our full time Spanish courses. Derek works closely with staff and students to ensure students’ success. Derek holds his Master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in ESL, from the University of Phoenix. Derek received his Bachelor's degree is in Spanish, with a minor in Latin American History from San Diego State University 1998. Derek earned his single subject teaching credential in California through National University in 2000; and earned his AA degree in General Education from Grossmont College 1996.

Derek served on a 2-year mission in Chiapas and Tabasco Mexico for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1992 through 1994. Derek has had extensive travel through Spain, Central America, South America and Mexico. In addition to working at Excel High School, Derek also teaches Spanish at El Camino High School in Oceanside, California. Derek’s hobbies include soccer, singing and spending time with lovely wife and wonderful children.

Registrar/Office Manager

Sheila Christoffer

Sheila Christoffer

Brings over 20-years of customer service experience to Excel High School to help serve our student population. Sheila plays a critical role at the school and has direct oversight for student records. Managing records for a large school is a daunting task and Sheila’s high attention to detail shines through daily. Sheila loves the challenge of working for a large virtual high school. In her free time, Sheila enjoys spending her free time with her family and friends.

Science Instructor

Christi Elias, M.Ed

I have enjoyed teaching for eight years and am very passionate about education. I earned a Bachelor of Biology Education degree and a Masters of Education degree from William Carey University. I have enjoyed teaching science and coaching soccer for Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis, MS. I have been afforded the opportunity to teach many levels of science ranging from general 7th grade science to honors anatomy and physiology. I have also enjoyed extending my teaching time outside of the classroom and on to the soccer field. I have been blessed to have had the chance to coach soccer at my alma mater, William Carey University; as well as assisting the head coach at Winthrop University in creating the first women’s soccer program; and most recently making memories at Our Lady Academy winning 5 state soccer championships. I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Excel High School, and be a part of the future of education.

Social Studies Instructor

Geoff Guzman, M.Ed

My name is Geoff Guzman and I am a 8th grade U.S. History and Computers teacher. I have been a Social Science teacher for over five years. Throughout my teaching experience I have obtained experience teaching all California Social Science subjects from 6th grade through 11th grade. This wide spectrum of teaching experiences has given me great perspective and vision regarding how each grade level builds upon the others and how California students are to learn about and apply the information in the state standards. Throughout the years, and with help through collaboration with a variety of colleagues I have also obtained a great deal of experience generating and improving upon pacing guides, unit plans, informal evaluations, benchmark tests and more aspects of teaching. I am fortunate enough to claim that I have been able to play a part in raising Social Science CST scores through these processes in both schools that I have worked in.

I have recently completed my Master’s program in Educational Technology at California State University Long Beach. The Ed Tech program at CSULB has trained me to be a progressive teacher and technology leader through continuously seeking for new ways of teaching with the use of technology. My program also taught me how to evaluate and use various forms of technology in the educational realm. In the past year I have already begun using the skills that I learned in the program. I have transformed my public school 8th grade U.S. History class into a nearly paperless classroom. I have made it a professional goal as a progressive educator to continuously finding new resources in the technologic realm of education that are low cost to no cost through research and collaboration with fellow colleagues.

Student Services Manager

Lori Applegate, M.Ed

Lori Applegate, M.Ed

Lori lives in North Carolina with her husband and 3 children (ages 8 & 6 year old twins). She received a Bachelor of Education degree from William Carey College and earned her Master's in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. Lori taught in Mandeville schools (Louisiana) for seven years. She worked and served on various curriculum committees within the school district to improve Language Arts/Social Studies teaching methods. She assisted with coordinating several Social Studies World Travel Days and served as a committee member for an event that helped local teachers enhance their teaching practices. Lori also mentored/trained high school students toward future teaching careers.
She has fond memories of playing college soccer with her twin sister. She continued with her interest in soccer by coaching at the local high school and select soccer travel leagues.
In her spare time, she enjoys jogging, reading, family time, and church activities. Lori is excited about mentoring and encouraging people for Excel High School. She truly enjoys each family with whom she comes in contact and provides “online” support and motivation for a successful Excel High School experience. Lori is a great asset to the Excel High School Team!

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