CCA:Department of Special Education
CCA Department of Special Education

Welcome to the CCA Department of Special Education!

Gillian Barkalow, Educational Specialist & Department Chair

Hometown:  Born locally in San Marcos, but grew up in Ventura, California.

Education:  My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts, emphasis on painting, with a minor in English Literature from Occidental College.  I received my mild/moderate teaching credential from National University and am finishing my Masters in Education from National this year.

Work Experience:  I worked in the “real world” for a few years at a magazine and then at  I began teaching in 2001 at Hawthorne High School where I was an SDC Literacy, English, & Art teacher for four years.  I had a one-year stint with Poway Unified where I taught 6th grade RSP until I had the amazing opportunity to teach at CCA.

Hobbies/Interests:  I love to go running or hiking, and am trying to surf more (long board).  I like to go to the movies (sports movies are my favorite), read books & magazines, draw/paint, and spend time with friends.  My goal is to travel more—I’ve been to Australia, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and around the U.S., but there is so much more to see.

Contact Information:


Joel McCuistion, Educational Specialist

Hometown: A native of Ventura County. I spent time growing up in Oxnard, Ventura, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks.

Education: An alumni of Cal Lutheran University, I earned a B.A. in Communication with a focus in film production. I also earned my Teaching Credentials, and an M.S. in Education with an emphasis in Mild/Moderate Disabilities.

Work Experience: I began my teaching career as a substitute teacher in Simi Valley with a long term job at Apollo continuation High School. I then moved on to work full time at Calabasas High school for the next six years. There I taught both RSP and SDC students with disabilities ranging from Autism, Tourettes, to Learning Disabled and Emotionally Disturbed.

Contact Information:

The best way to contact me is by email at


Michael Minnick, Educational Specialist

Hometown: I've lived along the long lonesome highway 5 growing up in Los Angeles, making my way North on the 5 to the Bay Area and then coming back South to settle in San Diego.

Education: I went to non-football schools BIOLA and SANTA CLARA

Work Experience: I did some time teaching at a group home school and a day-treatment center in the Bay Area.  I spent several great years at Grossmont High School in San Diego as a teacher and a counselor.  Most recently I did some time at Torrey Pines High School.

Interests: Bob Dylan fanatic and my favorite line from a movie is, "sometimes nothing is a real cool hand" from Cool Hand Luke.

Contact Information:


Rachel Orchard, Educational Specialist

Hometown:  I grew up in Upstate New York and moved to California shortly after graduating from college.

Education:  I earned my undergraduate degree from Geneseo-State University of New York.  At SUNY Geneseo, I majored in Special Education/Elementary Education with a concentration in English.  I recently earned my Masters in Education with a specialization in National Board Certification.

Work experience:  My teaching career began in the Poway Unified School District.  After spending three years teaching both Special Day Classes and Resource Specialist classes in the Poway district, I have decided to join CCA!

Hobbies/interests:  I enjoy running, cooking, traveling (especially Northern California and New England), spending time with friends and family, and taking my dog to the beach.

Contact Information:


Julie Rogers, Educational Specialist

Hometown: From Pittsburgh, PA. I am currently residing in University Heights.

Education: Undergraduate degree in History and Philosophy from Ohio University. I studied abroad for one year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. I earned my teaching credential in Special Education, mild/moderate from San Diego State University. I'm currently working on my Master of Science in Special Education at San Diego State University.

Work Experience: I began my teaching career at Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch. I moved to La Coast Canyon High School in the spring of 2006.  I had an opportunity to transfer to Canyon Crest Academy in the Fall of 2006 and have been loving CCA every since.

Hobbies/Interests: In my free time I like to run, swim, hike, surf, and walk. I like to read and participate in a book club with my friends. I also love to travel and was able to take a year off work to travel across Australia and South East Asia.  My favorite thing in life is spending time with friends and family.

Contact Information:

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Be advised that all text and images contained herein are
Copyright © 2006 Reno Medina CCA Department of Special Education
and cannot be used or altered without the written consent of the author.

Page last updated December 17, 2007 11:06 AM