Our team consists of professional educators, parents, and community volunteers. We share the goal of building up the body of Christ by witnessing to God’s love, modeling virtue, and offering our students the best educational environment possible.
Matthew Najera Headmaster
Mr. Najera is co-founder and president of Saint Therese Classical Academy. He is an experienced educator having taught catechism and Theology for over sixteen years; thirteen of those years as a high school instructor. His educational background includes a bachelor of science in Biology with a minor in Philosophy from the University of California at Davis with postgraduate studies in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Prior to entering the field of education, he worked in Mexico for two years with the Order of Friar Minors, followed by five years in Biotechnology. In addition to serving as headmaster of the academy, Mr. Najera teaches Math and Science.
Chris Van Wyk Social Studies & Theology
Before entering the vocation of education, Mr. Van Wyk played baseball and studied Political Science at Westmont, graduating with honors. After teaching at Bishop Diego High School for eight years, Chris married and moved to San Diego, where he taught at the University of San Diego High School. He has taught English, History, and Theology at the High School level and his special subject of interest is Catholic theology. He holds an Advanced Catechetical Minister certificate through the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, has taken extensive theology coursework through Mount St. Mary’s College and LMU, and is currently finishing a Masters in Theology through Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Michael Wilds Literature
Oxford Academics Michael “Doc” Wilds is the founder of Santa Barbara’s Oxford Academy, he is the educational director of YSTRIVE for Youth, he is a co-host at KZSB Teen Sports Radio, and he also teaches Saint Thérèse Classical Academy’s Great Books Curriculum. For the past three decades, Michael has been nourishing the minds of young scholars with the great books in school settings and enrichment programs. In his words, Oxford Academy “is a place of focus, a place where, for a moment the distractions recede. Here, Literature, History, Art, Mathematics, Anthropology, Philosophy, Music, Poetry, and Physics all come together as part of the same story.” Michael brilliantly harmonizes the story of the great books with the story of our Christian faith.
Eben Drost Music & Choir
Team member since 2014
Mr. Drost is a local musician with extensive experience in classical, jazz, and pop styles. He studied music at Westmont College for four years, studying piano under both Dr. Steve Hodson and John Douglas. While at Westmont, he also studied vocal pedagogy with Dr. Nichole Dechaine, and in his senior year was president of the College Choir, under Dr. Michael Shasberger. Upon graduation, he received the departmental award in music. Eben has valuable experience as a piano teacher, guitar teacher, accompanist, and worship leader. He is also currently pursuing a Masters in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Jacob Nuesca Latin
Team member since 2015
Mr. Nuesca earned a degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2012. He also has postgraduate studies at the Dominican School of Theology in Berkeley California. In addition to teaching Latin at Saint Therese Classical Academy, he substitute teaches for the Santa Barbara School District.
Patrick Torrellas Track Coach
Team member since 2015
Mr. Torrellas spent two years studying and running track for the Cal Lutheran track team. As a member of the team, he competed in the Mid-Distance/Long Sprinting events and represented the university at the NCAA Division III national Championships in Cleveland Ohio (2010). He transferred to the University of Portland, where he finished college and athletic eligibility at the Division 1 Track Level. While attending Portland, he became a member of the University’s Army ROTC program. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History in 2012, along with his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as the Commanding officer of an Army Reserve Detachment located in Sherman Oaks, Ca. He enjoys staying physically active, and being outdoors as often as possible.