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    • Our Teachers
    • Calendar 2017-18
    • Honor Code
    • Photo Release
Current Activities
    • On-going Investigations
  • Fieldtrip schedule
  • Friday Reflections

Our Teachers

Tiah Schindelheim Rodriguez

Tiah Schindelheim Rodriguez hails originally from Steinbeck’s own Salinas Valley, where she cultivated an avid appetite for novels, research, and language. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from her small town high school and carried her academic distinction through her undergrad at University of California, Berkeley, where she earned the Classics Department Book Award for her senior thesis, graduating with highest honors in her Department in 2003. She pursued Classical Civilizations for her graduate studies, which led her to Florida State University. There, in addition to her studies, research, and volunteer hours at the Student Disability Resource Center, she designed and taught Greek and Latin Elements in the English Vocabulary, a 3000 course for college juniors and seniors. Realizing her passion for education transcended the classical world, she moved to Washington, where she earned her Masters in Education and her Secondary English Language Educator Certificate in 2008. She has been blessed to teach all levels of core English and College English in the High School Classroom sponsored by U.W. at Henry M. Jackson High School from 2008-2011. She moved to Bellevue High School from 2011-2015, where she taught core Junior and Senior English along with advising the student newspaper, the Barque. She currently teaches English 9, English 10 Honors, and AP English Language. As an instructor, it is Tiah’s belief that creating a safe classroom environment that is inclusive and respects diversity is the first step in helping students feel comfortable enough to offer their own opinions and responses to questions and discussions without the fear of harassment or prejudgment. Genuinely listening to students and getting to know them will help students feel respected as individuals in a collaborative community in which their contributions aid in the discovery and advancement of multifaceted perspectives on various themes in literature and in life. She want students to be comfortable with her as a person and as an instructor, as well as being comfortable with their peers, which Tiah believes will reinforce a stable foundation of mutual respect, enabling meaningful discussions, group work, and interactions.Most of all, she wants to work with students to establish an environment where all students feel encouraged to participate so they can learn from each other and from instructors in a relatively equal setting. Aside from teaching, Mrs. Schindelheim Rodriguez enjoys painting, reading, dancing, and nerdy pursuits like Dungeons and Dragons, Hearthstone, and Cosplay.

David Zook

David’s professional career started even before his graduation from college when he did a semester abroad in Japan, got a teaching position and ended up staying in Japan for nearly 12 years!!! After teaching English and Math for 6 years, he taught himself how to program then transitioned into a marketing job in the software industry. After spending 10 years in the software industry, David returned to teaching, this time as a Tutoring Center owner. Over the next 15 years he and his staff have tutored over 5,000 students in virtually all academic subjects.

Over the years, David developed a new vision of what works and what doesn’t work in education he has dubbed Awesome Schooling that incorporates all the sources of education available to US students to achieve a customized, motivating, challenging high school experience for EVERY child. Based on this vision of diverse resources being coordinated to provide customized yet challenging education, David founded Big Brains Preparatory. The BBP educational experience is built around online curriculum, flexible hours, tutorial-based learning, Passion Projects and an Honor Code.

Marc Schleh

Is a Bellevue native and a graduate of Newport High School and the University of Washington Honors Program, where I received a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I spent five years working in the biotechnology industry at Amgen, Inc., and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, during which time I studied viruses including HIV. My work from college and industry led to the publishing of four research papers. After a brief stint as a graduate that the cost of medical education was unjustified by the ends and chose to apply my interests in medicine and science to teaching. My educational philosophy is that students can perform at the highest level in any subject, so long as they employ study habits that best suit them and that are tailored to the material they are learning. I help students realize those habits so they gain the confidence to meet a variety of academic challenges. Many years of studying for tests in graduate and medical school as well as for entrance exams such as the MCAT, GRE, and the DAT have given me a broad background in learning all academic subjects.

Allie Pfleger

Teaching has always been a huge part of Allie’s life. Her mom’s whole side of the family teaches, and growing up in a family that valued education heavily allowed Allie many opportunities to see how important good teaching is for students. Though she wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, a series of wonderful math teachers in middle school, high school, and university convinced her that education was truly a worthwhile pursuit. She attended University of Washington to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. She has been teaching, tutoring, and coaching robotics with Big Brains for six incredible years. Teaching, from helping out in ballet classes and Sunday school, to after school science and robotics programs, to our outstanding education program here, is Allie’s number one passion in life.

Sarah Clayton

Sarah has been tutoring for over a decade. She tutors a wide range of topics, including writing, history and Japanese. She has considerable experience working with students to help them develop study habits that promote academic success.

Sarah has a master’s degree from Washington University and is currently completing a doctoral degree at the University of Washington.

Brenda Jow

Brenda is currently a senior at the University of Washington, she is majoring in Early Childhood and Family studies and speaks fluent Chinese. She is currently teaching ESL and Mandarin at Big Brains. She has been teaching Mandarin for the past 4 years. Brenda believes that the best way to learn is by having fun. Brenda enjoys music, coffee and traveling.

Judith Mercado

Judith grew up in Bellevue and attended the Bellevue School District. She began here career working with youth with a leadership roll in high school and has known her path ever since. She is currently pursuing her Teaching Credentials while working at Big Brains.

Judith is very passionate and enthusiastic about education. She strongly believes that in order to learn you need to know how to struggle. Currently, teaches Spanish, ESL and is a Robotics mentor.

Tricia Dela Cruz

Tricia came to the United States when she was fourteen. She attended Bellevue College after graduating from high school and earned her Associates Degree in Arts and Sciences. She now attends the University of Washington to earn her Bachelor’s Degree studying Psychology.

Tricia enjoys teaching and working with children; she grew up with many kids around her. She believes that students are more successful when we teach lessons in a variety ways.

She also enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, rafting and swimming.

Newton Le

Washington State University graduate in Political Science. Already with over 3+ years of experience tutoring and working with youth, Newton has quickly become a integral member of our team, adding depth to our English and Literature Department. In addition to being an educator, Newton works with David Project Managing development of our Education Management App. Project Manager, English and Literature Educator at Big Brains.

Honor Pledge

Our purpose as an institution is to promote excellence in our students and to help them grow into strong adults and quality members of society, while we fully understand the pressures to excel and get good grades. We also recognize that in order to develop strength of character, all students must be able to acknowledge their own failures, as well as, enjoying their successes. As such, students and faculty both are honor bound not to misrepresent their effort, actions and thoughts. With our Honor Code, we ensure that the unique features of Big Brains Preparatory that have brought us here, self-paced learning, Passion Projects and flexible study environments, are protected for us and for others.

Our Honor Code grants the school community confidence in the words and actions of each other in a way that permeates every aspect of campus life. Trust between students, faculty, and staff enriches the widespread collaboration that is essential to this type of learning. The Honor Code deepens bonds between students and encourages a sense of personal responsibility that extends beyond the classroom and into the lives of leadership and learning that students will pursue after graduation.

HONOR PLEDGE OF Big Brains Preparatory The following statement is the official honor pledge of Big Brains Preparatory.

“On my honor I have neither given nor received unauthorized information regarding this work, I have followed and will continue to observe all regulations regarding it, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others.”

Every signature helps sustain a climate of freedom and further secures the commitment to academic honesty and social responsibility that characterizes a Big Brains education.

I pledge to be bound by the Honor Code. ______________________________________

Photo Release

Name: _______________________________________________ (Initial) I hereby grant permission to Big Brains Education (BBE) and its assigns and licensees to take photographs or videos of me, and to make recordings of my voice. I give BBE permission to use these images, videos, and recordings, as well as my likeness and voice, as follows. No names will be used with the images.

  • The use may include reproduction, distribution, derivative works, display, and performance.
  • The use may be in composite or modified forms and in any media, now known or later developed, including without limitation newspapers, television, radio, the World Wide Web, and social media.
  • The use may be for any purpose throughout the world and in perpetuity, including, without limitation, education, trade, advertising, and promotion.

I further acknowledge that I will not be compensated for these uses, and that BBE exclusively owns all rights to the images, videos, and recordings, and to any derivative works created from them. I waive the right to inspect or approve the uses of any printed or electronic copy. I hereby release BBE and its assigns and licensees from any claims that may arise from these uses, including without limitation claims of defamation or invasion of privacy, or of infringement of moral rights or rights of publicity or copyright.

This Release is binding on me, my heirs, assigns, and estate. BBE is not obligated to use any of the rights granted under this Release. This Release expresses the complete understanding of the parties.

_______________ (Initial) I do not grant permission to Big Brains Education (BBE) and its assigns and licensees to take photographs or videos of me, and to make recordings of my voice.

On-going Investigations
Fieldtrip schedule

Friday Field Trips

Yunica Zhao Friday Reflection

31 March 2017

This Friday is the last Friday of this month, so our mission for today is to finish all our late work in school or we will get zeros in our grade books. However, before we did our work, we still needed to do current events like usual.

After the current events is Study Hall. Actually, it is easy for me because I had almost done all the work, so I do not have too much pressure today. I only need to finish a physics assignment then I am done. When I finished the work, it was lunch time. I showed my APEX to the teacher and left school. Leaves school early felt good. I do not need to worry about homework and I can have a good weekend.

Therefore, I think doing assignments on time is very important, or you will have a lot of pressure at the end of the month. I do not like that feeling, it makes me uncomfortable. In fact, doing homework everyday is not a very difficult thing. I hope I can keep doing this. Beside, I think a study hall at the end of the month is very necessary, because it can give students a chance to fix their problems and catch up.

Halloween Party


For our Halloween party, students and staff brought fruits, chips, cupcakes and pies for everyone to enjoy. After we ate, we carved pumpkins and then had a costume contest for which Ishan, the winner, got a trophy.

Chuck’s Friday Trip Reflection

In Feb 17th, we build our own rocket on morning and launched in Bellevue Downtown Park at after noon then we went back to school. I have a great time even I came late and miss the building time at morning. But I still have a good time in launching part. Thanks for Allie borrow me that rocket she build and let me use it to launch it.

After lunch, all of us are building the last part of the rocket, the engine and ignition to put in the end of the rocket. Then we start to walk to the Bellevue Downtown Park. When we reached the park, we found a place to set up the launch pad. Because it was ran last night, so the park was wet and grass with mud are moist. After set up the launch pad, we use the little tube to put the rocket on launch pad, then we group up to a circle and the people who launching their rocket is holding the electronic launcher. Then he put the key in, after count down, he push the button, and the rocket launched. But the launch is not always successfully, sometimes the ignition part didn’t touch well on engine, then the launch will filed. But we always can fix it. After each person launch their rocket twice, we start to clean our mess and walk back to school to having our Friday Reflection.

This Friday I learned how to build rocket and the importance of teamwork. I’m really like this field trips. It’s fun and taught us something. It’s pretty good and I like it. I wish we can have more trips like this.

Mox Boarding House 2/3/17

Today students were in for a big surprise! Not knowing where they were heading, the students were excited and impatient, asking “Where?” time and again. Arriving at Mox Boarding House, the students were pleasantly surprised to see a library full of board games.

Students got to play new and exciting board games they’d never played before. They were forced to engage with other students outside of their social groups. Seeing them interacting with each other and not only playing but, getting to know each other personally was an extra positive outcome.

Reflection, Aaron

Written by Aaron Field Trip 2/3/17

This is first field trip for me of this semester. We went to Mox, the board game house, and this was the third time that I went there. It was a very interesting field trip because some brand new game!

After the current events, we jumped in car and drove to Mox. It was always cool to see a place with so many board games. I was stunned because there were so many games to choose. Gabe chose a game called Splendor. I thought that was lame game because it had an old white box. But I was wrong; Splendor was one of the best board game that I ever played. Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige. The thing that amazed me was – John, he was so good at this game even though it was the first he played it. He literally dominates the whole game. Vijay was pissed off at John because John stopped him from getting a really good card, and John won the game in the end.

We had lunch and spent another at the board game house before we went back to school. It was very fun field trip, I enjoyed it. It was good to spend time with friends and play board games together.

Seattle Art Museum 12/1/16

Today we visited the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Students were excited to roam through the Global Art Collection. The students especially enjoyed two exhibits: the Native American and African Cultural exhibits. Following our visit to the museum, we had lunch near the Ferris Wheel then explored Pike Place Market, while savoring samples and coffee.

Indoor Rock Climbing, 12/1/16


We all went to the Indoor climbing gym to get some exercise and face our fear or heights. Surprised by how athletic Trish is. And Aaron’s quite a climber… David’s not quite as brave as he thinks he is.

Trish will do ice skating

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David will do rafting’

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David will do Mt. Si climbing

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Trish will do Halloween Party

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Newton will do Pacific Science Center

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Aaron’s Reflection Piece:

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