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Planning Team Members

Portrait of Kim Gimbal    Kim Gimbal
Planning Director

Kim taught elementary music for over 10 years in Chico. He developed fine music programs at his schools, which featured outstanding student performances, lauded by parents, students, and his colleagues. Through his innovative approach to teaching and his own infectious enthusiasm for music, he inspired thousands of students over the years to explore and develop their own musical talent. Kim encouraged self-expression through songwriting, composing, improvising, and interpreting music, while consistently developing his lessons and instruction according to the California State Standards for Music. As a professional musician, Kim plays a variety of instruments, and has performed in venues world-wide.
 In 2003 he was happy to receive the Little Chico Creek School PTA Honorary Service Award. In 2007 Kim was the CUSD Elementary Music Specialist chosen to attend the Dufour Conference on Collaboration in Los Angeles. He then served as Collaboration Facilitator for CUSD Elementary Music Teachers for two years. Kim brings all of his enthusiasm and dedication to his profession to his new job as Planning Director for Inspire School of Arts and Sciences. He is excited to be part of the team that is helping to launch this new school in Chico.
Portrait of Chris Persson    Chris Persson
Founder/Team Member

Chris Persson helped found the Academy of Communications & Technology at CHS 16 years ago. She has served as Coordinator of the academy for those 16 years, teaching English 9, 10 and 12 (honors and college prep) as well as Advanced Studio Production. She has worked closely with several Department of Education-funded projects supporting the development of integrated, thematic instructional programs and was part of the ACT Academy team that won the CA Department of Education's Outstanding Team Award in 2007. She was also the recipient of the Chico High School PTA's Honorary Service Award in 2008. Chris was instrumental in ACT being one of ten schools or programs in the western states to receive a major grant dedicated to the creation of professional student portfolios. Prior to moving to Chico in 1988, Chris worked in a highly successful Adolescent Day Treatment Program in San Jose and in special education and junior high school English in New York.
Portrait of John Seid    John Seid
Team Member

John Seid recently retired after 35 years in the classroom and has created the new Chico Reading Clinic with another experienced teacher.  John believes in teaching strategies and giving tools to students who are struggling. He served as union president for seven years in Orland.  In the classroom, John is a strong advocate for students and parents. He believes that teachers aren't here to deliver curriculum, but rather to facilitate, motivate, and inspire.  John is also a keyboard player who has performed professionally for more years than he cares to admit.
Portrait of Deborah Travers    Deborah Travers
Team Member

Deborah Travers has taught World History, Geography and US History at both Chico High and Pleasant Valley High Schools for 13 years which includes working closely with Stanford University and the World Affairs Council in San Francisco to pilot the Contemporary World History Project (a UN style approach to teaching World History) at Chico High.  She is also the Project Director for CUSD's federally funded Smaller Learning Communities Grant for both comprehensive high schools and an original member of the District Advisory Council.  She began her teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Thailand, teaching English and Agriculture in a rural community high school and has twice volunteered with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.  Deborah returned to San Francisco to work for both the Institute of International Education and with the Peace Corps again as a Recruitment Specialist for all of northern California.  Wanderlust led to a return to Asia with her husband, teaching English in Kathmandu, Nepal, and leading treks throughout the Nepalese and Indian Himalaya for three years.  With a profound desire to 'bring the world home', she received a full Social Studies Teaching Credential and M.A. in Education from Stanford University in 1996 and immediately moved to Chico.  She is an outdoor enthusiast and avid traveler who lives with her husband and three sons next to Bidwell Park.
Portrait of Ron Pope    Ron Pope
Founder/Charter Writer/Team Member

For almost 30 years, Ron Pope has served as an instructor at Chico High School, teaching electronic engineering, audio/video production, animation and computer technology.  Sixteen years ago Ron co-founded the successful Academy of Communications and Technology (ACT) program at Chico High School, which was recognized by the California Department of Education in 2007 as one of two outstanding academy programs in the state.  Ron also taught for a number of years for Butte Community College and Butte County R.O.P.  Ron Pope has been recognized for his efforts in education with the PTSA  Honorary Service Award, the Masonic Lodge Award For Outstanding Work in the Field of Education, the California Skills USA Teacher of the Year award, the Chico Public Education Hall of Fame Distinguished Secondary Teacher award, and was bestowed the Honorary Chapter FFA Degree by Chico High's FFA chapter.
Portrait of Mary Schoenthaler    Mary Schoenthaler
Team Member

Mary Schoenthaler has been teaching in Chico Unified for 8 years, 6 of them as the sixth grade self-contained GATE teacher at Marigold Elementary. Before becoming a teacher, she earned a degree in photographic illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology, completed the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course at Harvard University, and spent 14 years working as a picture editor for book and magazine publishers in Manhattan and San Francisco, for Microsoft, and for the artist Christo during his Umbrellas project. She has integrated her experience in the field of visual arts with her classroom curriculum in a number of ways, including digital photography and video service-learning projects. Mary received Marigold PTA’s Honorary Service Award in 2009, and she was a Wells Fargo Teacher of the Year winner in 2007.
Portrait of Billy Hague    Billy Hague
Team Member

Born and raised in San Diego, Billy Hague and his wife moved to Chico in the summer of 1993.  A year and a half later, Billy became a father and began teaching Junior High history.  In addition to teaching, Billy volunteers his time coaching the Running Club at Marsh Junior High. He organizes the annual DC trip, works with BTSA, the North State History Social Science Project, the Enhancing Education through Technology grant and the Northern California Writing Project.  That sounds like a lot, but it all comes down to one simple truth... Billy does it all for his kids.
Portrait of Eric Nilsson    Eric Nilsson
Interim Principal

Eric Nilsson most recently has served as an Assistant Principal at Pleasant Valley High School where he was in charge of Curriculum and Assessment, as well as professional development.   Prior to his appointment to that position in January of 2009, he served as Project Director of the Cohort 5 Smaller Learning Communities Grant for CUSD.  In his capacity as Project Director, he coordinated educational reform efforts at Pleasant Valley and Chico High schools to include the establishment of new smaller learning community structures as well as bringing a focus on best practices in instruction to both high schools .  During his tenure, a new mentor program was initiated at Pleasant Valley High School, both campuses initiated efforts to embed collaborative time within the school schedule and a focus in professional development in literacy and formative assessment became a priority.  He has also taught English for the Academy of Communications and Technology (ACT) at Chico High School as well as Gridley High School, Butte College and for the American School of Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.  He is passionate about high levels of engagement and learning for all students, about the school as a collaborative culture focused on continual learning as well as the importance of the connection of students to school staff in the learning environment.   He is  married to Julie Anderson-Nilsson, and they have three children: Georgia (19), Taylor (15) and Juan (6).

Eric will officially begin serving as Inspire's interim principal this coming January, but he is joining our Planning Team right away.  Eric may divide his time between Inspire and Pleasant Valley High School this spring until they find a replacement for him.  We know that won't be easy.
Portrait of Christina Fisher    Christina Fisher
Team Member

Christina lived in Reno, the Bay Area, and then moved to Chico in 1994. She majored in English and pointed her focus towards her passion for teaching in 1996 when she graduated from college. In 1998 she was hired to teach at Pleasant Valley High School here in Chico. She has taught in town for the past 12 years as both an English teacher and Dance teacher. She feels strongly about giving our youth a voice in matters that concern them, and constantly pushing the envelope for critical thinking and innovation in the classroom.
Portrait of Marysol de la Torre-Escobedo    Marysol de la Torre-Escobedo
Team Member

Marysol de la Torre-Escobedo has taught World History, U.S. History, and AVID for over 6 years.  Marysol was born in Chico and raised in Hamilton City.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UC Berkeley and her full Social Science Teaching Credential and M.A. in Education from Stanford University.  She began her teaching career as a founding member of East Palo Alto Academy High School in the bay area.  As a founding member of EPAAHS, Marysol worked closely with the Stanford University Redesign Network and their efforts in meeting the needs of all students and creating a model of school reform.  Marysol currently teaches AVID at Pleasant Valley High School.  She is married to Marcelo Escobedo and they’re expecting their first child in mid-November.