EAGLE STAFF PROFILES
A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.
Mr. Ben Davis
Hi, I am Ben Davis! I grew up in North Phoenix and moved to Tucson for college. Once I got here I fell in love with the University of Arizona and with the city of Tucson. After graduation in 2008, I started working at SACA as Leadership Instructor and then as an English Instructor. In 2012, I moved to Santa Cruz, CA where I met my wife Hawley. We both taught Bible and led chapels together at a private school in San Jose until moving back to Tucson this past fall. I am so happy to be back at SACA and excited to get involved again with this fantastic school. In my free time, I like to play basketball, read, watch movies, hang out with my wife and two-year-old daughter Storey.
FILM The Dark Knight
FOOD Pizza from Rocco's Little Chicago on Broadway Blvd.
YEAR IN SCHOOL Junior year of HS
BOOK The Road by Cormac McCarthy
PASTTIME Playing Basketball
HISTORICAL FIGURE C.S. Lewis
TEAM THE CHICAGO CUBS!
Mr. MARCO GARCIA
Bio coming shortly!
FILM The Rifleman + all Western movies
FOOD Greek Food
YEAR IN SCHOOL Fourth Grade
BOOK the Bible
PASTTIME Spending time with family
HISTORICAL FIGURE Jonah (Bible)
TEAM The Dodgers!
MS. MANDY GARNIER
Hi there, my name is Mandy Garnier. I am number 6 of 7 siblings. I grew up in the small town of Franklinton, Louisiana. Shortly after graduating high school, I moved to New Orleans, LA to attend Cameron Business College.
A mother of 3 young adults; 2 girls and 1 boy, plus a grandmother of 2 handsome little boys who
call me "Noni" and steal my heart daily. It was the best feeling in the whole world when I became a "Noni"/Grandmother!!! I am a survivor and a lover of myself!!!
I have been working at SACA for 3 years and find it most rewarding working with the students and
being able to interact with them daily. If I can help one student, better yet if one student helps
me to be a better person, I believe my day is well spent.
FILM The Notebook because it's such a beautiful love story. Love is Life!!!
FOOD "Soul Food" although I love seafood and Italian food as well.
YEAR IN SCHOOL Senior year
BOOK I don't have a favorite book but I love reading the Bible, fiction and
non-fiction books. I also love the writings of Toni Morrison.
MISTAKE THAT MADE
YOU A BETTER PERSON My favorite mistake was not a mistake at all but a lesson learned. It
taught me to evaluate my life, know my worth and love me.
PASTIME Spending time with my family because family is so important to me.
HISTORICAL FIGURE Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I love that he stood for peace, love and
TEAM My favorite team "by default" is the New Orleans Saints... but I may
jump ship occasionally to Raider's Nation (LOL).
MR. Omer "DAX" MORENO
Hello, I am Dax Moreno. After graduating High School in Nogales of 2003, life got a bit too real and too quickly. Not only was I worried about attending college in another city, but my means of transportation was of concern. Working a construction job gave me the funds to attain a vehicle. I departed for Tucson at the age of 19 with a ’91 Civic Hatchback and my wits (which weren’t fully developed at the time). Pima Community College was meant to be a breeze for me, quite the opposite. Social life, work pressures, living situations and bills were among the few reasons to cause worries. Eventually, I wound up working dead-end jobs, which was a blessing in disguise. The sheer necessity for a decent wage and opportunity for advancement was all I needed to pursue the next stage of my life. The age of 28 is around the time I finished up with PCC and began taking courses at the University of Arizona. I proudly graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and English in 2018.
Yes, it took about eight years for me to complete my general education (surviving and educating myself was the toughest thing I had to overcome). The multitude of knowledge and life lessons learned at the University will forever be ingrained in my being. In all honesty, no one can ever take my education away from me. It not only fortified my mind but gave me a better sense to navigate in this chaotic world.
As of lately, chess, reading, writing, hiking, running and spending time with my girlfriend seem to occupy most of my time.
FILM The Matrix
FOOD Las Vegas Sushi Rolls
YEAR IN SCHOOL The year I graduated, senior year at the U of A.
BOOK Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (1818)
MISTAKE MAKING ME
A BETTER PERSON Hitting rock bottom. Not being able to afford basic necessities.
PASTIME Enjoyment of nature.
HISTORICAL FIGURE William Shakespeare
TEAM The underdog (I'm not a sports fan)
Ms. SOPHIA MARTIN-SANCHEZ
Hi, I am Sophie Martin-Sanchez. I am the Academic Advisor at Southern Arizona Community Academy (SACA). I graduated from SACA in 2012. After graduating, I started at the University of Arizona as a pre-nursing major, and also began working in the classroom at SACA as an Academic Coach. Working with students helped me realize that I wanted to work in education and so I changed my major and goal. I have been working at SACA for more than 6 years and I really believe in our approach to personalized education for students.
In my spare time, I enjoy reading, hiking, cooking and spending time with my family.
FILM The Godfather Part II
FOOD My green chile enchiladas
YEAR IN SCHOOL Junior year of college because I was able to study abroad in
England and travel around Europe.
BOOK One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
PASTIME Reading, traveling and cooking
HISTORICAL FIGURE Thomas Jefferson
TEAM Arizona Wildcats! Bear Down!
MR. JEREMY "JJ" KATZ
Hey, my name is Jeremy Katz. I’m an Arizona boy, born and raised in Phoenix. I took every opportunity as a child to help my dad out with projects and repairs around the house. I became quite adept at using tools and developed a knack for problem solving and a keen sense of how things work. Our garage was filled with the discarded remnants of past repairs and projects. I spent a great deal of my childhood in that garage creating gadgets and gizmos out of anything I could find. As I grew, so did my curiosity about the physical world around me. My search for answers led me to the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences where I earned my B.S. in Optical Engineering and a minor in mathematics. Still not satiated, I applied for the UofA optical sciences graduate program. In addition to my teaching position here, I am currently a full time Ph.D. student. When not at SACA, you can usually find me in the UofA 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab where I am developing a new type of endoscope for laparoscopic minimally invasive surgery.
FILM It's a tie between Zombieland and Gladiator
FOOD POLLO FUNDIDO
YEAR IN SCHOOL Senior year of High School, hands down
MISTAKE THAT MADE
YOU A BETTER PERSON My first time as a teaching assistant, I sent out an email to the whole class about grading policies. I did not realize it when I was writing the email, but it had a harsh and abrasive tone. As you can imagine, the email was not well received by the students. I ended up sending out a lengthy apology email to everyone. The whole experience was embarrassing but really taught me to be mindful of how my words (written or spoken) can be interpreted.
PASTIME Acting! From the age of six all the way to college, I was up on stage performing in musicals and plays. I've acted in school productions, community theaters, and some improv troupes. At one point I even won the award for best youth actor in a lead role for all of Arizona.
HISTORICAL FIGURE Carl Friedrich Gauss
TEAM NY JETS!
MS. BROOKE OTTE
Hello, I am Brooke Otte. I am a SACA alumni and now an Academic Coach (teacher/staff aid) at Southern Arizona Community Academy. My department is in Language Arts/History where I assist students and teachers with different activities and assignments. I also actively help lead, supervise, plan, organize and participate in events and fundraisers for the groups and clubs we have here on campus. I am enrolled at Empire Beauty School to study and become certified in Cosmetology. I hope to open my own salon and beauty school. I also enjoy long boarding, camping, hiking, drawing and coloring. I also am a huge animal lover!
YEAR IN SCHOOL 7th + 12th grade
BOOK The House of Night Series
PASTIME Camping + hiking
HISTORICAL FIGURE Amelia Earhart + Martin Luther King, Jr.
TEAM Arizona Wildcats
MR. TRAVIS ROSS
Hi there, my name is Travis Ross. Born in California, my family moved all over the country where we lived in Utah, Tennessee and New York. After graduating high school in New York, I moved to Phoenix, AZ where I completed my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry at Arizona State University. My wife and I were married in June of 2018 and we moved down to Tucson so that she could start her new career as a Software Engineer at Raytheon. I am currently attending ASU online as a full time student where I will be completing my second Bachelors degree in Software Engineering. In our free time, my wife and I
enjoy hiking, camping and spending time with our five dogs.
FILM The Dark Knight
FOOD BBQ Ribs
YEAR IN SCHOOL Senior Year
BOOK Airborn by Kenneth Oppel or
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
MISTAKE THAT MADE
ME BETTER Taking too much advice to heart instead of trusting myself.
PASTIME Sports and Video Games
HISTORICAL FIGURE Neil deGrasse Tyson
TEAM ASU Sun Devils
MS. SARAH RUIZ
Hello, I am Ms. Ruiz. I grew up in a very small town called Dudleyville, Arizona; it is located 60 miles northeast of Tucson. This is a rural community where I had a lot of space and time to enjoy the great outdoors. I have
one sister and two brothers and my parents still live in this small town. My memories living in
Dudleyville are very sweet and simple. I was always around family and enjoyed tubing down the
Gila River, riding ATV's, horseback riding, playing sports and tons of family gatherings.
I moved to Tucson, was married and started my beautiful family. I have two incredible sons. I was
blessed to stay home for several years to be with my children and also care for my nieces and nephews. When it was time for me to enter the workforce, I followed my passion and love for CHILDREN. It was natural for me to work in education and with children. I have spent the last 19 years working in education and have been at Southern Arizona Community Academy for the last
2 1/2 years. I have truly enjoyed the students and staff at this wonderful school.
FILM The Green Mile
FOOD Mexican Food; Tacos, Tacos and Tacos.
YEAR IN SCHOOL Freshman year of high school
BOOK The Bluest Eye
MISTAKE THAT MADE
ME BETTER Moving away from home too soon, I realized I needed structure in
PASTIME Yard work.
HISTORICAL FIGURE Mother Theresa
TEAM San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Braves, these are my son's favorite
teams since he was a little boy.
MR. Larry SPETA
Hello, my name is Larry Speta and I was the principal at three different schools before becoming the principal for Southern Arizona Community Academy (SACA). I am honored to be the principal at SACA this year and come with over eighteen years of experience as both a science teacher and an administrator, as well as having served as an instructor for Aviation Maintenance while in the Marines. Before becoming an educator in Arizona, I served in the Marine Corps for twenty-six years. I can say that my feet have touched on every continent to include Antarctica during my travels. While in the Marine Corps I married my wife Darlene, who I credit for the success of all of my children.
Originally from New York, my education includes master’s degrees from the University of Phoenix in Educational Leadership and Administration, and one from Concordia University, a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction (Math and Science). While in the Marine Corps, I earned a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior College (Magna Cum Laude).
My passion is teaching and learning in any of the sciences (I love learning).
YEAR IN SCHOOL Middle School- 8th grade
BOOK Elric of MeIniboné by Michael Moorcock
MISTAKE THAT MADE
ME BETTER Happened in high school when a friend and I had a big fight,
midway through the fight almost at the same time, we realized
what we were fighting about was rather stupid. The lesson learned
was when you are really angry- step back and ask yourself "is it
worth fighting about or do you have something more important
or fun to do?"
PASTIME Gardening, reading, martial arts and spending time with family.
HISTORICAL FIGURE George Washington
TEAM Any as long as it is a good game where both teams try their
MR. TONY WEST
Hey, I am Tony West. Born in the Philippines, both parents were in the Navy and stationed in Subic Bay during my birth. I am the youngest of four brothers. Moved to Tucson when I was 3. Attended Van Horne
Elementary School, Magee Middle School, and graduated from Tucson Accelerated High School in 2008. Spend the next 7 years working in Market Research before going to the University of
Arizona. Graduated from the University of Arizona in 2017 with a degree in Astrophysics. Worked at BASIS as a subject expert math teacher before coming to SACA.
FILM Tremors 1990 and The Thing 1982
YEAR IN SCHOOL My first Quantum Mechanics class at the U of A
BOOK The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings
PASTIME Hiking, Backpacking, Stargazing
HISTORICAL FIGURE Alexander the Great
TEAM The SACA Team
Ms. Cyndi Cubillas
Bio Coming Shortly!
FILM The Godfather Trilogy, Miracle on Ice, A League of Their Own and
all of the Marvel movies
FOOD My Nana's Tamales
YEAR IN SCHOOL Senior Year of High School
BOOK JFK: The Conspiracy of Silence
PASTIME Anything Softball
HISTORICAL FIGURE The Big JC, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jr. + Wonder Woman
TEAM The University of Arizona Softball team, Los Doyers and the Patriots
Ms. Terrie Cubillas
Bio coming shortly!
FILM Gone with the Wind and the Lonesome Dove series
FOOD Tacos Dorados and Nana's Tamales
YEAR IN SCHOOL Senior year of high school
BOOK The Bible and The Fifth Seal and The Sixth Covenant by
Bodie and Brock Thoene
PASTIME Gardening and traveling to the White Mountains
HISTORICAL FIGURE Jesus Christ, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln + Ronald Reagan
TEAM The Yankees, Arizona Wildcats, the Dodgers and any team Cyndi is
on or coaching
MR. ABELARDO Cubillas, Jr.
As the Director and Founder of SACA, Mr. Cubillas has always had a vision to help students reach their highest potential. Graduating from the University of Arizona with a B.A. in Spanish and Health, Mr. Cubillas went on to receive his M.Ed. Masters of Education at the University of Arizona as well. Throughout his career in education, he has served as a classroom teacher, a department head, a baseball coach, a High School Dean of Students, Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction as well as Principal. His love for education is combined with an entrepreneurial spirit as he also is President of Cubco, Inc., a General Construction and Roofing Firm as well as Cubco Realty and Investments. He enjoys working outdoors, whether on his backyard or on a construction project, as well as playing guitar, watching baseball and spending time with his family.
FILM McClintock! and The Sand Lot
FOOD T-bone steak at Lil Abners
YEAR IN SCHOOL Sophomore year in high school because the Dodgers won the
BOOK The Bible and El Corazón de Piedra Verde by Salvador de Madariaga
PASTIME Watching 50s and 60s Westerns and Baseball games
HISTORICAL FIGURE Christ Jesus, the Apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein
TEAM The Dodgers
Official Giver of Hugs
Hi there, my name is Ivy and I love this school. I get so excited on my way to work. I didn't always have this great of a life. When I was a baby, my brothers and sisters and I were found under the rubble of a fallen house. There was a big storm on our island, they called it Hurricane Maria and it hit our island home of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands very hard. I owe my life to some wonderful people who found us and got us to the vet right away. Originally my sister was scheduled to fly to the America, but she got adopted on the island. So one of the nice vets came in to visit our litter and said "who wants to go to the United States today?" and I jumped right up and ran into her arms! I was ready for adventure! So the nice lady got me a traveling outfit and took me on three different huge, metal very noisy birds and we flew through the air, all the way to my new life and family in Arizona. I was on TV and they call me a survivor and said there was no way I should have lived... but I did. I LOVE it here. I don't really like the heat, but I LOVE my family. I love going to my training classes and I most especially love the students at SACA. I am so lucky and blessed to be here.
FILM A tie between Lady and the Tramp and whatever my dad and mom
are watching at the moment so I can be right on their lap.
FOOD I'm a big fan of steak and cheese.
YEAR IN SCHOOL Every year.
BOOK I can't read... yet but we are working on it.
PASTIME I LOVE to be anywhere with my dad. I love to play ball and go on
walks and road trips.
HISTORICAL FIGURE Snoopy and John Wayne
TEAM The Dodgers and the teams at the Puppy Bowl over Thanksgiving