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Special Education Department Staff

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image 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.

image of Gloria Olamendi

Gloria Olamendi, Director

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.”

Image of Jennifer Solano

Dr. Jennifer Solano, Coordinator

Dr. Jennifer Solano has worked in special education for more than 18 years – all in the Westminster School District. She has served as a special day class teacher, speech/language pathologist, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) coach and, most recently, program specialist.  Prior to Westminster, she worked as a speech/language pathologist for the House Ear Institute, a nonprofit foundation for hearing-related scientific research, in Los Angeles.

“Jennifer’s background and skillset will strengthen our special education team,” Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Dr. Amy Lambert said. “We are very pleased to have her join the District.”

            Solano has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communicative disorders from the University of Redlands and a doctorate in educational leadership from California State University, Long Beach. 

            “I’m honored to be part of TUSD and look forward to meeting the staff, students and parents, as well as getting to know the District’s special education community,” Solano said. 

image 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.

image of Stephanie Barnes

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.

Jennifer Bailey-Dorkin, Coordinator

Jennifer Bailey-Dorkin has been with Tustin Unified School District since 2000. Prior to joining TUSD, she served as a Paraeducator, Special Education Specialist and Mentor Teacher for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. Since coming to TUSD, she has served as a Special Education Teacher, BTSA Trainer and Facilitator, prior to becoming a Coordinator for the district.

Jennifer earned her Master of Education degree from CSUSB, received her Administrative Credential from CSUF, and is currently completing a Doctoral degree in P-12 Leadership at Cal State, Fullerton.

Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, attending LA Kings hockey games and traveling. She is passionate about her work in special education and her volunteer efforts with local and national charities, serving as a speaker for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, and organizing fundraising events for Conquer Chiari. She has also served on the California State Low Incidence Disabilities Advisory Committee, and local Community Advisory Committees. Jennifer continues to enjoy being a part of this dynamic school district.

 

Image of Rae Rice

Rae Rice, Coordinator

Rae Rice has joined the Tustin Unified School District as a Special Education Coordinator.   She takes over for Jennifer Taberski, who left the District.

Rice has worked in special education for more than 22 years.  She began as a special education teacher in Durham Public Schools in North Carolina and in 2000, came to California as a special education teacher for the Santa Ana Unified School District.  During her years in Santa Ana, Rice also served as a Resource Specialist teacher, Special Education Department chair and Program Specialist. 

“Rae has a strong background in special education and will be a valuable resource for our school district,” Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Dr. Amy Lambert said.  “We are happy to have her join the TUSD Team.”

Rice has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s degree in special education from North Carolina Central University.

“I’m excited to be part of Tustin Unified and look forward to getting to know the District’s special education community,” Rice said.   

Picture of Diane Nicholas

Diane Nicholas, Coordinator

Diane has worked in special education for more than 14 years. She began as a special education teacher in La Habra City School District for 7 years before coming to Tustin Unified School District. During her years in La Habra, Diane also served as a PBIS TOSA. During her time in Tustin Unified, Diane has served as a Special Education Teacher, Inclusive Schooling TOSA, Special Education Facilitator, and Special Education Coordinator.

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 also holds an 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. 

image 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.

Additional Support:

Name Title Responsibilities Phone Number
Raquel Pineira Administrative Secretary Secretary for Assist. Superintendent 714-730-7301 ext 51336
       
Nancy Hunter Secretary II SEIS, Transportation 714-730-7301 ext 51313
Diana Markstrum Secretary II Records, Support for Coordinators 714-730-7301 ext 51386
Adriana Mendez Secretary IV Mental Health Support 714-730-7301 ext 51391
Marie Sanchez Secretary II Autism Support 714-730-7301 ext 51363
Clarissa Silva Technologist   714-730-7301 ext 51621