Steering Committee

Steering Committee

The VIDA Steering Committee is the group that has been primarily responsible for designing the VIDA Magnet Theme and Program. They are the primary supports for the rest of the Founding Faculty, and they ensure that a variety of perspectives are brought to the planning of our new school. The assembled team represents a rich group of professional educators, eager to design and who have been highlighted as innovators within their field.

Eric Chagala - Founding Principal

Dr. Chagala graduated from UCLA with a degree in International Relations, and has been with VUSD for 15 years. He began as a History teacher at RBV, primarily teaching IB History of the Americas and 9th Grade Honors Non-European History. In addition to teaching, Dr. Chagala was the Head Coach for the RBV Cheerleading program, and was also the Varsity Women's Swim Coach. Following the 9/11 tragedy, Dr. Chagala was part of a delegation that went to the US State Department to consult for curriculum as a way for American schools to address International Terrorism. He was then invited to a consortium for Cold War Studies at UCSB to work with other teachers to build curriculum around modern geopolitical threats. In 2004, Dr. Chagala passed the US Foreign Service Examinations for the diplomatic corps, but met his future wife and dedicated the rest of his professional life to public education. Since, he has served as Assistant Principal at Vista High, Principal at Washington Middle, and now Founding principal of VIDA. In 2013, Dr. Chagala was awarded the Golden Apple for "VUSD Administrator of the Year." Dr. Chagala enjoys traveling, and has backpacked across Western Europe by himself, swam with sharks in the Caribbean, and helped take 90 US soccer players to Brazil for two weeks. Dr. Chagala has two amazing daughters, and his wife teaches writing at the college level.

Cindy Anderson - Founding Provost

Cindy Anderson is VIDA’s Founding Provost.  She has been an advocate for quality education in Vista for 20 years. Cindy has her educational roots in elementary school where she taught third through fifth grades.  As a middle school teacher, she has focused on bringing her love of mathematics and science to the students of Vista.  Cindy has worked extensively with WestEd as a K-12 Alliance Regional Director providing mathematics and science professional development in math and science to teachers statewide.

Cindy received her Bachelors of Science in Education from Kansas State University with areas of emphasis in Science and Mathematics.  She earned her Masters in Educational Leadership from National University.  She is recipient of the San Diego Science Educator Association’s Science Teacher of the Year award and the Paul D. Hood Award for Contributions to the Field of Mathematics and Science Education from WestEd.

Cindy is a life-long Vista resident.  She is married and has two daughters.  Her husband of 41 years, Robert, is also a VUSD employee. Cindy’s oldest daughter, Rya Hege, is a Vista educator and her youngest daughter, Bethany, is on staff at the University of Arizona.  Cindy enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and going to the beach as much as possible.

Annette Wilson - Founding Faculty

Mrs. Wilson has been teaching middle school math and science for five years. She graduated with honors from California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) with a depth of study in Biology and Chemistry. Annette enjoys collaborating with her colleagues to ensure that her students are getting the most innovative and engaging lessons possible. In addition to math and science, Mrs. Wilson also teaches Character Leaders, a class that focuses on learning through the six pillars of good character. At VIDA, she will share her love of caring for the environment with her students through an Ecology Design Lab. Mrs. Wilson is an avid runner and co-coaches Girls on Track and the Cross Country Team. In 2014, Mrs. Wilson was the recipient of VUSD’s Middle School Teacher of the Year award. When she is not enjoying time with her colleagues and students, Annette loves spending time with her husband, her four adult children, and her three dogs.

Jennifer Gray - VIDA Founding Faculty

Mrs. Gray graduated from the University of CaliforniaSan Diego with a degree in Sociology.  While working with area foster youth with the YMCA, she realized she could parlay her passion for social work into education. She later received her single subject teaching credentials in English, Social Science, and Health Science with a certificate in Middle Level Education. While teaching, she has obtained certifications in Quality Teachers for English Learners (QTEL) and Gifted and Talented Education(GATE) and attended trainings with both the San Diego and San Marcos Writing Projects.  She has been teaching middle school English Language Arts to students in several city school districts from San Francisco to San Diego, Oceanside, Vista ever since! When not teaching, Jen can be found reading at the beach or traveling with her husband and daughter, Ella. 

Darlene Painter - Founding Faculty

Mrs. Painter excited to be part of the founding faculty of VIDA. She has been a teacher for Vista Unified for two years. She started as a 6th grade Math and Science teacher then moved into teaching her love and passion, which is 8th grade science. Mrs. Painter will also be the ASB advisor and Robotics Design Lab teacher. Before coming to Vista she taught for 5 years at a charter school in Riverside County. Mrs. Painter has spent all of her teaching career in middle school and she loves every minute of the experience!

When not teaching or running school events Mrs. Painter loves to be out in the desert riding quads, on the river in her boat, camping with her family or scuba diving in the oceans around the world. She loves to bring adventure and life into her classrooms, which include my hobbies.

Heather Williams - Founding Faculty

As a teenager, Ms Williams knew her calling involved drawing, art and creativity. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in ART from Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh but she explored education far beyond the traditional system. Her pathway included earning a Mentorship Degree in The Prosperos School of Ontology where she learned how to use problems as opportunities. She served as an Apprentice for 5 years to Norwegian Master Painter, (Jan Valentin Saether), developing an understanding of the “alphabet” of the visual language (which she describes in her book, Drawing as a Sacred Activity, published in 2002 by New World Library). She was an Associate Teacher for 6 years, co-leading the Louise Hay International Teacher Training Program in the USA, Mexico, Canada, England, Italy and Australia. She facilitated painting and drawing workshops for many years working with people in jails, in drug and alcohol treatment facilities, people with traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, Autism, eating disorders, AIDS, cancer, bipolar, bulemia, homelessness. Ms Williams earned her Multiple Subject, Special Education and ART credentials and has been working in the Vista Unified School District as a Special Education and Art teacher since 2002. In 2012 she created this WMS mural with student help and plans are in place for many more murals at VIDA. She is very excited to be part of the Founding Faculty of VIDA, teaching ART, Sculpture and Graphic Novel classes. She has lived in Vista since 1997 and says, “All people are sacred beings with a unique story. There is creative power within each one of us and we each must draw it out!”

Ellen Crews - Founding Faculty

Mrs. Crews is excited to be teaching Math and STEM-based Design Labs at VIDA.  She received a degree in Biochemistry from U.C.S.D., studied Architecture and Environmental Toxicology at Dartmouth College, and earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis.  After working as a chemist, a clerk deciding cases involving the Department of Health and Human Services, and a full-time mom, she decided to dedicate herself to working with adolescent students.  She obtained credentials in Math and Science, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Level Education.  As a math teacher, she believes that every student can succeed at high levels, and focuses on building their conceptual understanding.  She has been highlighted in local and national film projects detailing her team’s transition to the Common Core standards, and has been a featured speaker at various conferences as well as district trainings in Vista and neighboring communities.  Her classroom is frequently loud, often messy, and dedicated to developing a love of learning.

Timothy Hutchinson - Founding Faculty

Timothy Hutchinson graduated from CSULB with a BA in Communicative Disorders. He attended National University to obtain his multiple subject clear CLAD credential and CSUSM to obtain his preliminary special education mild/ moderate credential. He returned to National University to obtain his clear special education mild/moderate credential. He plans to attend the University of Phoenix to obtain his single subject authorization for Social Studies and Technology.

His career in education started as an instructional aide and later an adult education teacher for those with developmental disabilities. He later managed several programs at the non profit corporation, Vocational Visions for adults with developmental disabilities in Orange County.

He then took a job as an IT manager for Viking Office Products where he managed the US purchasing, and inventory, PC technicians and International internal Help Desk. When Viking was purchased by Office Depot he took a buyout offer and pursued his teaching credential..

He has worked as a resource specialist for Lake Elsinore School District and then for Vista Unified School District where he currently is a special day class teacher at Washington Middle School.

Currently Mr. Hutchinson is living in Carlsbad with his wife of 37 years. He is the father of two sons and now a grandfather as well. His hobbies include, pastel and oil  painting, sculpture, scrimshaw, digital arts, photography and creative writing.

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VIDA Steering Committee Members

The VIDA Steering Committee is made up of several teachers and administrators from different backgrounds.

Eric Chagala, Co-Chairperson, Principal of VIDA

Ellen Crews, Co-Chairperson, Teacher for VIDA

Cindy Anderson, Provost for VIDA

Annette Wilson, Teacher for VIDA

Heather Williams, Teacher for VIDA

Timothy Hutchinson, Teacher for VIDA

Angela Townsend, Teacher for VIDA

Darlene Painter, Teacher for VIDA

Krissy Boian, Teacher for VIDA

Jennifer Gray, Teacher for VIDA