• Elementary Mentors


    Ms.  Ligman,  Grades 2-3     jligman@psusd.us     Ext. 2205

    PictureMrs. Ligman has been teaching at PSUSD for seventeen years.  She has two A.A.  degrees from C.O.D. The first is in Early Childhood Education and the second is in Liberal Studies. Her Bachelor's Degree was earned at Chapman University. She also has a Masters in Teaching from Chapman University. Mrs. Ligman started her teaching career right here at PSUSD working in Alternative Education.  Her first teaching job was at Shelter of the Storm through the district. She is currently working at the Safehouse a few hours a week. When not teaching, she enjoys quilting, making scrapbooks, reading, camping, and going to the beach. She has been married for thirty-three years and has three grown children.


    Ms. Yada,  Grades  4-5     lyada@psusd.us     Ext. 2202

    PictureMs. Lynn Yada has been an educator for close to thirty years.  She chose to become a teacher because she loves to teach students and loves to see them learn new things.  She is a lifelong learner and continues to take classes each year to learn about the latest strategies and techniques to engage her students.  Ms. Yada received her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University.  She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  When not at school, Ms. Yada likes to exercise at the gym and do yoga.  She is excited to be part of the Desert Learning Academy community and says the staff, parents, and students are all awesome and wonderful.

    Ms. Foerch,  Grades  2-6     kfoerch@psus.us     Ext. 2203

    PictureMs. Karen Foerch has been an educator for sixteen years.  She chose to become a teacher because she loves teaching and working with students.   Ms. Foerch received her bachelor’s degree from Pacific Christian College and her master’s degree in Instructional Technology at Boise State University.   When not at school, Ms. Foerch likes to read and hike in the nearby mountains.  She is excited to be joining the Desert Learning Academy community and says the staff, parents, and students have been incredibly welcoming!


    Middle School Mentors

    Ms. Brennan, Math/ Reading/ Writing Specialist      sbrennan@psusd.us     Ext.2507


    Ms. Maude Dabney, Math/Science     mdabney@psusd.us     Ext. 2206

    PictureMs. Dabney has been in education for about 18 years. She has a B.S. in Social Work from Point Loma Nazarene University, a Multiple Subject Credential from CSU San Bernardino, an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Phoenix, and a second M.A. in Teaching with a Specialization in Teacher Leadership from National University. She LOVES to learn, but even more so, she LOVES to teach! Being a classroom teacher, allows her to do both of the things she loves: learning from her students, and helping to guide and support students in their learning. 


    ​Ms. Syfert - Busk, English / Social Science / Writing     dbusk@psusd.us     Ext. 2204


    ​After graduating from Concordia University Irvine, Ms. Busk continued on to obtain a Masters Degree in Education, Multiple Subject Credential and Special Education Credential.  She has been involved in Middle School education for 23 years teaching Special Education, Language Arts, History, PE and ELL.  Throughout her career, she has been a teacher or administrator at Raymond Cree Middle School, Desert Springs Middle School, and Nellie Coffman Middle School.  This will be her ninth year teaching in the PSUSD Independent Study programs.  She feels fortunate to be able to work closely with the wonderful families and students in this specialized environment.  After the final bell rings, Darci likes to hang out with her son who attends San Diego State University, take long walks with her dog, and work out.  



     High School Mentors


    Ms. Borun, Biology / Chemistry / Life Sciences   


    Ms. Brockschmidt, Physics / Math     (kbrockschmidt@psusd.us)      Ext. 2505


    ​Ms. Brockschmidt realized she loved math and science as a junior in high school.  She eventually earned her bachelor's degree in physics at UCLA.  She has enjoyed teaching different levels of physics and other sciences.  Kirsten's favorite physicist is Richard Feynman and she has enjoyed reading his books since high school.  In her spare time, Kirsten loves to read, hike, travel, and watch great movies.

    Ms. El Sharei, Business / Electives       (pelsharei@psusd.us)     Ext.2505


    Patricia (Pat) El Sharei received her Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University and later her Master of Arts degree from Pepperdine University, Los Angeles.  She is certified in California to teach courses in Business, Hospitality, Health Sciences, Sociology, and Technology.  Ms. El Sharei has a diverse background in business management/entrepreneurship and her hobby is Amateur (Ham) Radio.  She is a member of the Riverside County Amateur Civil Emergency Services.

    Ms. Robles, Math     (irobles@psusd.us)     Ext.2510
    Ms. Smith, English/ Technology   (tsmith@psusd.us)     ext.2506


    Mrs. Smith grew up in the small town of Blythe, California, located near the Colorado River along the Arizona border. She was inspired to become a teacher by her 12th grade Civics teacher and neighbor, Mr. Mel Heath, who, after becoming completely blind as a young child, faced his many life challenges with courage and grace,  After being a student TA to him during her senior of high school, Mrs. Smith worked as Mr. Heath's teaching assistant for three years in the early 1990s.  During that time, Mr. Heath mentored Mrs. Smith and encouraged her to pursue a career in education. She went on to work in various jobs in education, including an instructional aide and school secretary, while attending college in the evenings. Mrs. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1998, and a single subject teaching credential in English in 2000, both from California State University, San Bernardino, a master's degree in Educational Technology from Azusa Pacific University in 2013, and is a certified Leading Edge Online and Blended Teacher.  Mrs. Smith relocated to the Palm Springs area in 1999 and was hired by Palm Springs Unified School District in January 2000 to teach Reading at Desert Springs Middle School in Desert Hot Springs.  She transferred to Desert Learning Academy (formerly Ramon Academy) in 2006. Mrs. Smith enjoys sharing her love for lifelong learning and preparing students for their lives in a connected world​. She is the very proud mom of two sons, Jeffery, 23, and Ryan, 12. 

    Ms. Valenzuela, World Languages / Math     (mvalenzuela@psusd.us)     ext.2510
    Mr. Wheaton, Social Science / ASB      (rwheaton@psusd.us)                       ext.2505


    Mr. Wheaton was born in Wisconsin and raised on an Indian Reservation in Northern Idaho.  Mr. Wheaton worked for the FBI  (the real one) in Washington DC for a year and a half in Washington DC before attending college at the University of Idaho. After completing college he moved to the emerald city (Seattle Washington) where he worked for eighteen years with Seattle Public Schools. In Seattle Mr. Wheaton spent many early mornings afternoon and weekends rowing, cross training, running triathlons, cycling, swimming, skiing, snowboarding instructing, snorkeling,  hiking, camping, coaching tennis and rollerblading or attending Seattle sports games. Go Seahawks! Mr. Wheaton moved to Palm Springs thirteen years ago,  This is his second year at DLA and he loves working with technology and collaborating with parents, students, and colleagues.  His goal this year is to enrich the Learning Platform with virtual gamification activities, field trips, and collaborative chat groups among his Social Studies students.  Roberto Wheaton has a BS in Earth and Social Science and an MA in Education Administration.