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Special Education Department Staff

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Picture of Dr. Amy Lambert

Dr. Amy Lambert, Assistant Superintendent

Dr. Lambert has worked in education for 29 years, and prior to joining the Tustin Unified School District, she served as assistant superintendent of special education for the Glendale Unified School District, while she was also the Special Education Local Plan Area director for the Foothill SELPA in Los Angeles County.

Dr. Lambert started her career in education teaching vocational and applied academics curriculum to at-risk students and students with developmental disabilities at the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (ROC). Over the following years, she served as an instructional coordinator for the center, administrator of instructional programs for North Orange County ROP, Assistant Superintendent of the Southern California ROC, and Director of Student and Special Services for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. Dr. Lambert has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Pepperdine University, a master’s degree in occupational studies from California State University, Long Beach, and a doctorate in administration from the University of Southern California.


Cherie Kuntz, Director

Cherie Kuntz has worked in special education for the past 35 years. She has been with Tustin Unified School District since September 1997. Prior to joining TUSD, she was a Program Director at Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa. Since coming to TUSD she has worked as an RSP teacher, Special Education Facilitator and Special Education Coordinator.

Cherie earned a Master of Science in Education degree at Cal Lutheran University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ergonomics/P.E. at UC Santa Barbara. She holds an Administrative credential, RSP certification, Moderate/Severe teaching credential and General Education teaching credential.

When not at work, Cherie enjoys time with her family, gardening and reading.
Gloria Olamendi

Gloria Olamendi, Coordinator

Gloria Olamendi has worked in education for the past 16 years and joined Tustin Unified as a coordinator of special education in 2017. Prior to TUSD, she was a general education teacher, special education teacher, curriculum specialist and special education coordinator in the Santa Ana Unified School District.

“Gloria’s unique experience and expertise in both general and special education, and her positive approach to working with students, staff and parents will continue to serve the District well,” Superintendent Dr. Gregory Franklin said.

Olamendi has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in cross-cultural teaching methods from National University in Costa Mesa and is presently in the doctoral program at USC Rossier School of Education.

Among her awards and honors, Olamendi was named Santa Ana Unified English Language Development (ELD) Best Practices Teacher and selected for the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) List of Exceptional Teachers.

Additionally, Olamendi lectures in general education credential courses at the University of California, Irvine, and has served as a presenter on special education topics for the California School Boards Association Conference and OCDE Special Education Series.

“I am so honored to serve the staff, students, and families within TUSD as the Director of Special Education,” Olamendi said. “I look forward to our shared work in supporting the academic and life achievement of all students.”

Picture of Shannon Ambuehl

Shannon Ambuehl, Coordinator

Shannon has worked in education for 10+ years. Originally, Shannon received her general education credential and had planned to teach within the general education setting. However, having a child of her own with special needs, Shannon quickly knew that the specialized field of special education is where her heart lies. Soon after receiving her General Education Credential, Shannon pursued her Education Specialist Credential from Azusa Pacific University and began teaching students with special needs at both the elementary and secondary levels within the Fullerton Elementary School District. Shannon then became an Itinerant/TOSA Teacher implementing specialized reading programs and interventions to students with special needs, covering many of Fullerton's sites. She then moved on to supporting special education programs as a Program Specialist for the Fullerton Elementary School District. Shannon joined TUSD this year as a Coordinator in Special Education.

Shannon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from The California State University, San Marcos, and a Master’s Degree in Education from The University of California, Riverside. Additionally, she holds an Administrative Credential and an Assistive Technology Certificate. Shannon's real passions in special education lie within special education law, policies and procedures, professional development, assistive technology, and UDL.

In her free time, Shannon enjoys spending time with her two girls, camping, hiking, traveling, cooking, and exploring the field of real estate.

Stephanie Barnes, Coordinator

Stephanie Barnes joins TUSD with a range of experience in coordinating special education programs. From preschool to adult transition, Stephanie has found her passion in supporting IEP teams and ensuring student success. Before coming to TUSD, Stephanie served as a school psychologist at the preschool, elementary, and secondary levels. Although her current role is coordinating mental health and psych services, her love for assessment keeps her engaged with many students and their IEP teams.

Stephanie earned a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of San Francisco, a Master’s in School Psychology from San Francisco State University, and Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of California at San Diego. Stephanie also possesses the following credentials: PPS school psychology, PPS school counseling, and in administrative services.

When not at work, Stephanie enjoys yoga and spending time with her family, friends and French bulldog.

Picture of Jennifer Dorkin

Jennifer Dorkin, Coordinator

Jennifer Dorkin has worked in public education for the past 30 years. She has been with Tustin Unified School District since July 1, 2000. Prior to joining TUSD, she served first as a Paraeducator, then a Special Education Specialist and Mentor Teacher for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. Since coming to TUSD she has worked as a Special Education Teacher, BTSA Trainer and Special Education Facilitator (from 2002-05 and again, presently).

Jennifer earned her Master of Education degree at Cal State San Bernardino, and attended Cal State Fullerton's Administration and Leadership Program, with a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Preliminary Administrative Credential in progress.

Jennifer is an avid LA Kings hockey fan and also loves to play in-line and ice hockey. She is passionate about her work with students with special needs, and her volunteer efforts with local and national charities.

Picture of Becky Houston

Becky Houston, Facilitator

Becky Houston has been with Tustin Unified School District as a Facilitator for Special Education since October 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Psychology from the University of California, Davis, as well as a Moderate/Severe Teaching Credential, and a Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Education from California State University, Sacramento.

Becky began her career in education as an instructional aide for a non-public school for autism in Sacramento. After earning her credential, she began teaching in San Juan Unified School District as an Independent Living Skills teacher at the high school level. She later became an Autism Inclusion Specialist in the same district for students Kindergarten through 6th grade. In that position, Becky supported students with Autism in the general education environment throughout their school day.

Becky enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and eating/discovering new foods.

Picture of Diane Nicholas

Diane Nicholas, Facilitator

Diane began her career in special education 10 years ago in the La Habra City School District teaching an autism specific class. She taught students with autism and supported them with mainstreaming for 7 years. After that, she worked as a behavior TOSA for one year. She then went on to become a resource specialist for 2 years. This is Diane's second year at Tustin Unified and her first year as an inclusion TOSA.

Diane earned her bachelor's degree in liberal studies and her master's degree in curriculum and instruction from San Diego State University. She has a multiple subject credential, and education specialist credential. She recently earned a preliminary administrative services credential.

Diane is passionate about working with students with special needs and ensuring their needs are met. She is also focused on sharing UDl strategies and allowing access to the curriculum to all students. In her free time, Diane enjoys spending time with her family, knitting, reading, and baking.

Jennifer Taberski, Facilitator

Jennifer Taberski has worked in the education field since 1999. She has taught in both general and special education settings, and is proud to be part of the Tustin USD Special Education Department. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member at CSU, Fullerton in the Special Education Department. Jennifer previously taught at Blind Children's Learning Center and has presented at the national conference for NAEYC and the state annual conference for Cal-TASH. Her research interests include promoting inclusion of children with disabilities and improving professional development practices for teachers.

Additional Support:

NameTitleResponsibilitiesPhone Number
Raquel PineiraAdministrative SecretarySecretary for Assist. Superintendent714-730-7301 ext 51336

Nancy HunterSecretary IISEIS, Transportation714-730-7301 ext 51313
Diana MarkstrumSecretary IIRecords, Support for Coordinators714-730-7301 ext 51386
Adriana MendezSecretary IVMental Health Support714-730-7301 ext 51391
Marie SanchezSecretary IIAutism Support714-730-7301 ext 51363