Emily Simpson
Middle School and High School Instructor

B.S. In Plant Biology from NAU

Email: emilysimpsonSCLC@gmail.com 
Emily teaches science, math, Spanish, English, history, and government at the Santa Cruz Learning Center, and enjoys working with students of all ages. She has a BS in Plant Biology from Northern Arizona University and has a passion for garden-based education. Emily is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Paraguay where she spent two years as an agriculture sciences teacher, and tutored English and Spanish. She also spent time at the Arboretum at Flagstaff as an  

What we look for 

  • Alignment with our mission statement
  • Share in the belief that EVERY child can be successful
  • Share in the belief that problems are hurdles, not roadblocks!
  • Possesses the compassion, understanding, and patience to work effectively with a diverse group of students, parents, and SCLC staff.
  • Possess the desire to put in the work to find the unique pathway to individual understanding for our students.
  • Possess the desire to instill responsibility and independence in the children who they teach because those who learn responsibility as children contribute positively to the world as adults.
  • Possess the desire to continually grow as an educator through professional development, peer feedback, and observation.

dogs, and other sweet little animals that we get to interact with on a daily basis. Overall I really appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that goes into all of our lessons and relationships here at the Santa Cruz Learning Center (SCLC). Come be a part of our learning. . . SCLC Rocks!!!! 

early-on and I struggled with reading and writing throughout childhood. It is because of the patience and encouragement of the mentors and educators in my life that I became a successful college graduate. Now, as a mentor and educator myself, I feel blessed to pay it forward to my community. Until 2016, I worked concurrently at UC Santa Cruz as the Director of STEM Diversity Programs. I was a re-entry college student (six years after graduating from Santa Cruz High in 1992) and transferred from Cabrillo College to UC Santa Cruz where I received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Chemistry. My research was in marine natural products as well as bioinorganic chemistry involving the photochemistry of nitric oxide. Prior to starting college, I trained at the Santa Cruz Women's Health Center to be a phlebotomist and a clinical laboratory assistant. I worked at Unilab, Santa Cruz Medical Clinic (before it was PAMF), and performed home visits to do medical exams for life insurance applicants. When I transferred to UCSC, I was granted the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which allowed me the opportunity to focus on my schoolwork instead of having to work to put myself through college. I have been teaching and tutoring since college and I was raised by a local homeschooling consultant teacher for AFE (Patty Palazzo). During my time off, I enjoy spending time with my family in my hometown of Santa Cruz. I have a fantastic husband (Nate Bell) and two exuberant daughters (Leilani, 16, and Ruby, 12) who keep me busy traveling around the US for allstar cheer competitions.

stayed at an ashram that was also an orphanage for a couple of weeks. I had a chance to bond with the kids while doing activities, yoga, and helping them with their schoolwork. It was the experience of a lifetime.


Email: timothysclc@gmail.com

The stars of the team- The pets of SCLC

Suge Knight the Tank

Big Poppa Frenchie

Retired professional Dog Athlete 

Email: suggiethetank@dogs.com

Suge Knight goes by Shuggie around town and is known for his love of scratching behind the ears. He became a father very young and sometimes forgets if he is a dad or a sibling of his seven offspring. He doesn't like confrontation and will turn around and shun anyone who yells at him. Not because he is angry but because he can't bear to see you upset. Shuggie sometimes forgets to put his eye teeth back when he smiles and ends up looking like a vampre. 

After-School Program Coordinator
B.A. Health and Human Services with an emphasis in Social Work from CSU Monterey Bay

Email: caraSCLC@gmail.com

     I have always loved kids and began babysitting when I was 12 years old and have continued to babysit and nanny over the years. I worked at Trader Joe's for over 20 years. I left that job to follow my passion for working with the youth. After that, I took a job teaching an afterschool enrichment program that taught kids science and engineering concepts with Legos. 
     I love my 2 dogs Jack and Jax, doing macrame, crafting, and yoga. I have had the opportunity to do much meditation and yoga/service retreats locally as well as in India, Thailand, and Guatemala. When I was in India, I 

instructor, Master Practitioner of NLP and Life Coach.  In recent years, I have developed transformational hikes for adults and preteens, focusing on mindfulness, connection to nature and gratitude.
     I have had the pleasure of traveling to 22 different countries and am looking forward to international travel again, hopefully before too long.  I love snorkeling and SCUBA diving (in warm, tropical water), hiking anywhere, and almost anything that sparkles.  

Jennifer Schacher 

Nature Day Camp and Elementary Teacher

Email: Jennsclc1@gmail.com

Lover of Nature, animals, and my fellow human beings. I was homeschooled K-12 while growing up in Michigan and working in my family’s chocolate shop. I have always had a passion for music and art. After a two-year service mission in Chile, I got a bachelor's degree in Art Education with a minor in Spanish. I then taught Spanish and Art around Tampa Bay Florida for five years.
      My wife Luz and I have been homeschooling our four girls, and since 2017 the six of us have been performing in our family reggae band around SF Bay and Santa Cruz. Along with music, art, and teaching I also authored and 

Reptiles of SCLC

Past and Present!

BouJee Bell

Classroom helper for all ages

M.s. in Snorting

Email: boujee@barkmail.woof

Bougie has been with the Learning Center for 5 years and has become an irreplaceable part of the team. When she first started at the Center she became Santa Cruz Snapchat famous but is now enjoying a more anonymous lifestyle. Now that she is a mother, she is a tad cranky and only works part-time. She enjoys being scratched behind her ears and, if the sun is out, you will find her napping in a sliver of light shining through a window. 

I have always loved exploring. When I was younger I was able to spend a summer studying ecosystems in Australia through the University of Queensland, studied over spring breaks marine biology in the Florida Keys, and traveled to Florida to rebuild houses with Habitat for Humanity. I have always loved this planet we call Earth and want to cultivate exciting ways to learn on the 3rd rock from the sun. I am a mom who is passionate about learning. When my children were younger I taught STEM classes at a local park. Mixing my love of nature and learning we built roly poly houses, investigated pulleys, and created art. among many other things. This led me to instruct classes for WPAL at their youth center. I have also been a Cub 

Scout leader for my daughter's Cub Scout troop for the last 2 years. Children see the world with wonder and curiosity and I want them to integrate that curiosity into their daily lives.

illustrated two books; one about taking care of the Earth, and one about philosophy and metaphysics.
      I see all humans as my equals. So as a teacher, I share what I know in a down-to-earth fashion. Teaching at the Santa Cruz Learning Center is great for that kind of individualized learning that can be adapted to the needs and levels of each student.

educational leader and tour guide. Emily has years of experience tutoring high school students in chemistry, biology, Spanish, English, and history. She thoroughly enjoys working with students one on one, or in small classes to ensure each student receives individualized support and friendship. When Emily is not hanging out with students at SCLC, she enjoys camping, backpacking, gardening, yoga, meditation, cooking, eating, reading, and traveling.​

Marbles Bell
(deceased but always in our hearts)

Classroom helper for all ages

M.s. in Cuddling 

Email: marblesboy@barkmail.woof

Marbles has been with the Learning Center from the beginning. He is a critical part of our team. He enjoys tail wagging and laying on backpacks. 

Kira Wampler, Nature name: Sunshine

Middle and Elementary School Teacher and Nature day Camp Leader.

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio-Bachelor of Philosophy with a focus in Environmental Studies 

Email: kiraSCLC@gmail.com

When I was 18, I spent a gap year in Israel where I got to teach English to middle school students. Although I loved teaching, I was really excited to major in Environmental Studies in college.  After graduating from Miami University, I was so happy to discover the world of Environmental Education, where my passion for ecology and environmental stewardship combines with my love of teaching.  I have taught at four different science camps/environmental education organizations throughout CA spanning 16 years.  Before becoming a mom 6 years ago, I started exploring other interests and got certified as a yoga 

"Shy" Chicago Goonie Blue

Baby Frenchie of the Center

Student. Researching the art of the puppy puddle.

Email: Shy@frenchies.com

Shy was born during the winter holidays of 2021. He is one of seven pups of Suge Knight and Boujee Bell. Although the owners of the center, Nate and Malika Bell, were adamant about no more dogs, his sweet demeanor and this squishy face won them over and he was invited to join the SC Center Team. He gives his best snuggles to kids at the center who need extra love or reassurance. He takes after his momma and enjoys napping in the sunshine inside or outside. This summer, he has been gifted a kiddie pool and can't help but run in circles to chase his favorite ball.

Malika Bell, M.S.

​     Hello! I'm Malika, the director of the learning center. I teach math, science, English, criminology and law, and psychology. In addition, I develop the various programs that we are continually improving on at the center. I work with high school and middle school students as an academic advocate and I tutor in math, and science and work with students (of all ages) on education executive function skills. I'm dedicated to the success of the young people of our community including their academics and their general well-being.
    I believe that my nontraditional education and career history allow me insight into the various pathways toward learning and understanding. Academics didn't come easy for me  

Melanie Clark, MA


Email: MelanieSCLC@gmail.com

My name is Melanie Clark and I am an instructor here at the Santa Cruz Learning Center. I have an extensive background in teaching and interacting with all types of different learners. I have a Master’s of Arts in Educational Psychology and a BA in Communicative Disorders and Sciences with an emphasis in speech-language pathology. I really love working here at the Center for many reasons. I love all the varieties of information we are able to convey to our students. I also love that giving and building confidence are really important for all teachers here. This ensures that we are able to have fun and give tons of exciting hands-on experiences. We have snakes, 

Introducing OUR TEAM of Talented Educators!