Casey Taylor is the founder and Executive Director of Achieve Charter Schools of Paradise. In 2005 she worked with parents, community leaders and educators to develop and open a kindergarten through fifth grade charter school in Paradise California. In 2008 Casey led Achieve as they expanded their program to middle school. In 2018 she worked with community leaders, local business owners, teachers and families to open Achieve Charter High School, a high school focused on college and career opportunities for all through entrepreneurship and computer science pathways. After the 2018 Paradise Camp Fire, Casey led her team in reopening schools in temporary facilities in Chico, while building a permanent school facility so the kindergarten through eighth grade school could remain in Chico long-term. She is now working with her team to reopen an elementary school in Paradise for the 2021-2022 school year.
Casey is a Paradise native and is committed to providing high quality educational options to the community, especially during the rebuilding process. She sits on the Rebuild Paradise Foundation Board, is a Paradise Rotary Club member and serves on the Paradise Citizen’s Alliance. Casey is also an advocate for public charter schools and serves as the chair of the California Charter School Association’s Member Council. She works closely with local charter leaders in Butte County and is the chair of the Butte County Charter Leaders Network.
Under her leadership, Achieve Charter School has been recognized as a California Distinguished School in 2014 and again in 2019. Casey was also named the California Charter Schools Association’s Charter Leader of the Year in 2017.
Casey lives in Chico with her daughter who is a senior at Inspire School of the Arts and Sciences. Her son is a journalism and marketing major at California State University Chico.
Catherine SullivanInspire School Board Member
Celeste CramerDevelopment Director
Celeste Cramer takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategic planning and development. Celeste has over twenty years of social work experience and over fifteen years ...Read More
Celeste Cramer takes a vision and makes it reality through sound strategic planning and development. Celeste has over twenty years of social work experience and over fifteen years of management experience, particularly in the non-profit sector. In the Bay Area, she worked with the Polly Klass Foundation and McDowell Drug Force, serving on the board at age sixteen. Celeste has worked with local non-profits such as Rape Crisis, Catalyst Domestic Violence Services, Hooker Oak Elementary PTO and Stonewall Alliance of Chico. Over the past ten years, she has worked for Butte County Behavioral Health in different roles - crisis counselor, supervisor and administrative analyst - passionately serving people who suffer from mental illness. On the side, Celeste has been doing event planning and marketing with a focus on raising funds for schools (including Inspire!) and non-profits.
During Celeste’s career, she started a nationwide sales businesses to help start-up companies become successful such as Moby Wrap Inc. and Pura Stainless Bottles. Celeste believes strongly that anyone can sell anything as long as they feel passionate about the product. Now she brings her skills and experience to ensure the Inspire Foundation’s success in raising the money needed to build the school they deserve, then to secure enough funds so that the Inspire School of Arts & Sciences students and teachers can focus on learning and educating and not on fundraising. This is a cause Celeste feels fiercely passionate about and is determined to make a reality.
On a personal note, Celeste has a son who has been drumming on anything since he could pick up a stick and now has found a school that appreciates and challenges his talent at Inspire. Her youngest son is counting the days until he is old enough to be a student at Inspire School of Arts & Sciences. She shares, “When looking at high school options, it was a clear choice after attending the Inspire orientation - every teacher who got up to speak about their program was more enthusiastic than the previous. It was palpable, and we walked away incredibly grateful to have this program as an option.”
Dan La Bar
Over a twenty year career in education, Dan has an extensive background in pursuing, obtaining, managing and reporting with a variety of capital revenue streams in education. He has direct experience involving successful public bond measures at the local level focused on repair and modernization ($152M), regional grant reviews ($33M), grant writing ($193k), federal and state grant monitoring ($17M), and operational budgets ($4.1M).
Beyond this, Dan has effectively implemented program design, re-design and continual improvement across district and charter schools specializing in arts education, STEM advocacy, college preparatory curriculum, alternative education, personalized learning and prevention programs for at-risk/at-promise students. He has coached 17 seasons of volleyball locally ranging from middle school to collegiate athletes. He started his coaching career at Chico High School (where Inspire is presently co-located) in the 90's. More recently, he served Inspire (on the same campus) as a school administrator and leader during the formative years of the school from 2011 - 2019.
Lastly, Dan is invested in the local community. Both Dan and his wife, Trelawney, studied at CSU, Chico and have called Chico their home since 1996. They have three children, Jonah, Tobin and Bayliss and hope that Inspire School of Arts & Sciences may be a school they attend when the time comes.
Dan RipkeFoundation Advisory Member
Dave Elke is a full time tenured faculty instructor at Butte College. He earned a BA in Liberal Studies in 1995, and an MA in Music from CSU, Chico in 2001, and has taught at Butte College for 20 years. Dave began his educational career working with preschool children and elementary kids. As part of several after school and preschool programs, Dave found a passion for working with kids and teaching in general. While completing the Liberal Studies Degree at CSU, Chico Dave was also completing a minor in music. Studying music at the college level was such a great experience; he decided to dedicate himself to music. After many years of touring, recording, managing bands, booking tours, and producing albums, Dave settled down in Chico, to raise his two daughters and teach at the college level.
Having begun working at Butte College as a guitar teacher, Dave was able to develop two books for guitar instruction, and eventually wrote a third book that is used at High Schools and Colleges. Dave really took to designing curriculum, and had the opportunity to build the recording arts program at the college. He built the curriculum, two certificates and an AS Degree in Recording Arts. In addition, Dave has just re-designed the music theory classes and re-built the AAT in Music for the college. He now works closely with the Dean and Chair to assist associate faculty and schedule the courses for each semester. He also oversees the music and recording budgets and is responsible for building the recording studio up with grants like the Strong Workforce and Perkins Grants.
Having managed budgets, including several large budgets for studio design, and equipment purchase, Dave has a vast knowledge of maintaining accountability for grants, purchasing necessary equipment, and helping the department and faculty acquire the tools they need to teach at a high level. After building over 12 courses in the college Curricunet system, and getting those classes approved through the curriculum committee, Dave understands the process and can provide strong support in a variety of technical and educational situations. As an instructor, Dave has earned the President's Award for Excellence in teaching, and was awarded the honor of Tenure in 2019. Always passionate about helping others, Dave is proud to be a part of the Inspire team.
David ZeichickInspire School Board Chair
Georgie BellinBoard Member
Jennifer Spangler is the Arts Education Coordinator for Butte County Office of Education and Region 2 Arts Lead for the California County Superintendent’s Arts Initiative. Previously she served as Co-Director of The Northern California Arts Project, a regional center of the statewide California Arts Project. Spangler has been a lecturer at CSU, Chico and Butte Community College where she taught Art History, Art Appreciation, and Arts Education. She received her M.A. in Art History from the University of California, Davis.
Before entering the academic field, Spangler consulted with arts organizations and public agencies throughout California to plan and develop arts facilities. Clients included the City of Long Beach, the City of Santa Monica, the San Francisco Arts Commission, BRAVA! For Women in the Arts, The S.F. Mexican Museum, and Shipyard Trust for the Arts at Hunters Point Shipyard in San Francisco.
Kam BullInspire School Board Member
Kate McCarthy, PhD, is Dean of Undergraduate Education at California State University, Chico, where she has worked for over 25 years. In her current position she oversees General Education, the First-Year Experience program, the Honors program, the Office of Civic Engagement, and the Chico Student Success Center. She also leads campus-wide initiatives aimed at improving retention and graduation rates for all students and closing equity gaps faced by students from historically underserved groups. With a Chico State colleague she was recently awarded a $3 million Department of Education grant to support Hispanic and low income students’ preparation for, access to, and success in post-baccalaureate degree and credential programs.
Prior to assuming her current position in 2017, Dr. McCarthy served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities. Her research focuses on interreligious relations and she is a leader in the emerging academic field of Interreligious Studies. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she is the author of Interfaith Encounters in America (Rutgers University Press, 2007) and co-editor of God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture (Routledge, 2001, 2010). She also co-directed a $100,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to develop the California Pluralism Project, a digital resource on religious diversity in California.
An award-winning teacher, Dr. McCarthy served as Interim Director of Faculty Development at Chico State from 2014-2015, where she created multiple programs to support faculty in implementing research-driven innovations in teaching.
Dr. McCarthy is active in her community through regular service at the Torres Community Shelter and in facilitating community programs that foster political depolarization. She has served on the Inspire Board of Directors since 2016 and is the proud parent of two Inspire graduates.
Kelly has twenty-two years of broad leadership experience, managing teams up to 100 people and annual budgets up to $45M. Managed through times of rapid environmental growth, mergers of major banks, reorganizations and downsizing. The last ten years she has led a fraud risk management strategy team remotely from Chico, California with team members across the US.
Kelly's strengths are developing a strategic perspective, driving for results, communication and collaboration/teamwork. She has used her skills in various officer positions of Parent Teacher Associations on and off for the last eight years. She has also acted as a local coordinator for exchange students because she believes exchange programs make the world a better place.
Kelly and her husband David raised three daughters in Chico who all graduated from Inspire. They also hosted five exchange students who attended Inspire. Inspire profoundly impacted all of them in a positive way. They were all engaged in not only their college prep course work but also by their multiple electives and after school activities including leadership, science, music, theater, art and dance. They took a trip to the South to learn about the Civil Rights movement and participated in after school sports. They are all currently thriving in colleges. Kelly is motivated to support the school so that future students will have the same inspiring experiences.
Ron Pope was employed as an instructor by the Chico Unified School District (CUSD) at Chico Senior High School and for The Inspire School of Arts and Sciences for 34 years. For the first nineteen of those years he taught electronic technology and electronic systems analysis and repair. In 1999 Ron authored Chico High’s first California Partnership Academy grant application and began to work with teachers across the curriculum, implementing the school-within-a-school program–The Academy of Communications and Technology (ACT). In the ACT program Ron taught, along with electronic classes, video and audio production, animation, and a leadership class which produced performances that targeted themes such as anti-bullying and appreciation of individuality, which his students shared with elementary students throughout California. Ron also taught Radio/TV systems classes for Butte County Regional Occupational Programs and Radio Frequency (RF) systems classes at Butte Community College. During his teaching career at Chico High, Ron served as advisor for the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (now known as Skills USA) where he advised more than 400 regional, 75 state, and 13 national VICA Skill Olympics medalists in both technical and leadership areas and was recognized as the California VICA State Gold Medal Advisor of the year.
In 1991, Ron created one of CUSD’s first elementary school computer learning labs at Parkview Elementary School, which was dedicated in his name by the district in 1993.
Ron served as a member of the State-Wide Vocational Education Steering Committee, the California Council of Electronic Instructors (CCEI), the State Model Grants Screening Committee, and the CUSD Long Range Planning, and High Schools of the Future committees. Over the years Ron authored the CUSD Carl Perkins Vocational Educational Plan, a successful State Consortium School Site Visitation Team grant application and it’s reauthorization, successful California Partnership Academy grant applications for the ACT program and Stage Academy (a drama and music performance-based academy program), the CUSD Revised Vocational Education Plan, and successful West Ed Portfolio Development and 1D Arts, Media and Entertainment Facilities grants. He also co-authored the State Curriculum Guide in Electronics, a School Improvement Program Quality Review application, and Inspire’s initial Charter School Grant application.
Ron was recognized as a Chico Sr. High Outstanding Staff Member, and his electronics program was awarded two CDE Vocational Education Model Site Grants, voted Outstanding County Vocational Training Program, and nominated for the Governor's award for Outstanding Programs. He was personally presented with the Chico Chapter Rotary Teacher of the Year and the CUSD Hall of Fame Teacher of the Year awards. Ron’s academy program was identified as an exemplary cross-curricular educational program by the California State Department of Education (CDE).
Ron is also proud to have served as a state consultant for the California Department of Education, working with schools in the L.A. area, designing programs integrating academic and career/technical courses.
For the last three years Ron has volunteered in the classroom, assisting with instruction in Audio Recording Technology and Pop Band Performance courses.
Sam Gronseth recently retired after 37 years teaching all levels of vocal, instrumental, and classroom music in Paradise, California. He is Past President of The California Music Educators Association (CMEA), leading California’s 5000 music teachers toward excellence. In addition, he directs a church choir, Paradise Community Chorus and a youth string ensemble.
Sam began his university work as a business major, but later changed that major to music education. In addition to his teaching success he has served on the Executive Board of California Music Educators Association, The California Alliance for Arts Education, and on the Presidents’ Council of the National Association for Music Education. He has also served as a member of several non-profit boards and as an advisor for special projects. Over the past years, instrumental and vocal performance groups under his direction have consistently received superior ratings at regional festivals, the highest award given. Sam has been recognized on a statewide basis with the CMEA Outstanding Service Award and The California Outstanding Music Educator Award. Groups under his direction have performed for schools from the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii for venues such as Disneyland, the San Francisco Giants, and the 75th Commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating fires in his hometown of Paradise, California, Sam spearheaded a project to combine local choirs together to celebrate and heal the community. The Butte Strong Choir performed for impacted schools, as well as the closing ceremonies for the NAMM Show in Anaheim, a convention with 117,000 in attendance. He is a mentor teacher for the California Music Educators Association, and presents educational clinics at local, state, and national music education conferences.
As a vocalist and conductor, Sam has performed and directed concerts with groups such as Continental Singers, and as a guest performer with the Oak Ridge Boys and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His travels with music groups have taken him to 16 countries including Japan, Singapore, Poland and China. Sam received his Bachelors’ Degree in Music Education from Central Washington University in Washington State, and has received postgraduate degrees or certifications at CSU, Chico, University of Phoenix, and CSU, Fullerton.
Shelby ChaseInspire School Board Member
Tam’s experience spans the world of affordable housing development, solar construction, nonprofit development, event management, and economic development.
She has been a Project Manager at Housing Tools for five years - completing 34 financing and pre-development Affordable Housing Projects with project budgets between $12 million and $100 million throughout California. She enjoys bringing experts together from various industries - construction, legal, financial, and nonprofit developers - to achieve the common goal of building much needed low-income housing.
She also brings with her several years in the solar construction industry, as a project coordinator, for high profile solar projects for large clients such as Sierra Nevada Brewery and Butte College. In this position, she worked closely with facilities staff and large construction companies to facilitate efficient meetings, and coordinated daily construction needs.
In addition, Tam has been involved in nonprofit development since her years as a program manager for the Work Training Center-Creative Learning Center, a program for people with disabilities, and managed 20 staff members with budgets of more than $500,000. She has been on the board of several nonprofits in Chico including the Peg Taylor Center, Chico Country Day’s Parent Support Group, and the Inspire Support Team.
For the North Valley Housing Trust, a homeless housing nonprofit, she spearheaded various out-of-the-box fundraising events, such as the Annual Spring Masquerade Dinner/Dance held by the nonprofit, raising more than $50,000, while maintaining the day-to-day operations of the new non-profit.
In all, she has 15 years of non-profit development/management.
She also has experience with Event Management - providing a local nonprofit with event management during a large annual fundraiser at the Sierra Nevada Big Room. She has volunteered for Chico Country Day School’s Annual fundraiser several years in a row.
In the past, she also owned a Web Design company, was a recruiter, and worked for a internationally known PR company.
For variety, she enjoys volunteering at Chicostart by providing event management consulting.
Currently, she’s helping Chicostart with coordinating Covid-19 PPE resources - linking local manufacturers with medical facilities, nursing homes, and senior programs in need, to expedite local PPE production.
Tam is passionate about alleviating homelessness, education of our youth, innovation for a better world, event planning, and empowering women.