Meet the Team
Allegiance STEAM Academy was created by a team of parents who wanted school choice in their community.
Sebastian Cognetta holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education. He began his teaching career in 1999 teaching middle school math and science in Fontana, CA. After teaching, Dr. Cognetta supported schools and districts across the country in several initiatives to improve student outcomes. The initiatives ranged from School Leadership, Response to Intervention, Evidence-based Instruction, Inclusion and Co-teaching, Instructional Technology, Supporting English Learners and Innovation and Design Thinking.
Dr. Cognetta then helped design and lead Aveson Charter Schools, two charter schools, in Altadena, CA. Blending evidence-based practices with innovative solutions, Dr. Cognetta has helped Aveson become a national pioneer in learner-centered and personalized education.
He was also instrumental in shifting professional development for teachers from traditional models of trainings and workshops to teacher-driven, collaborative and personalized models.
As the father of two school-age children, Dr. Cognetta knows firsthand the importance of taking an active role in the education of our children and the responsibility placed on school leaders. At a January board meeting Dr. Cognetta stated, “How I approach working in education is I am humbled by the gravity of this responsibility. You are entrusting us with your most valued possession, your children.”
Callie Moreno holds a Educational Doctorate from UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program. She began her career in education at Aveson Charter Schools during its founding year. She has taught math in third through eighth grades as well as upper elementary science and social studies using a project-based learning approach. After teaching, Dr. Moreno held a position as K-8 math coordinator and instructional coach, developing and overseeing the implementation of an elementary math intervention program and working closely with teachers to develop K-8 alignment in the math department.
Dr. Moreno has worked closely with Dr. Cognetta for several years to articulate timely and relevant professional development for teachers related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She has collaborated with Special Educators to adapt and modify curriculum, and to identify and select appropriate instructional strategies and accommodations to meet students’ individual needs.
Outside of her work experience and formal education, the greatest experience that has prepared Dr. Moreno to lead ASA Thrive is parenthood. Observing first hand the curiosity, discovery, and development of one’s own child brings to life the importance and obligation of the school community to know and see each child as an individual.
Teachers and Staff
ASA email use policy is designed to make communication between school and home efficient, productive and personal. Teachers will use email to “push out” mass communication including newsletters and updates that pertain to an entire class. The constraints of email communication are far too great. Therefore, teachers will not be using email to communicate with individual families. For questions or concerns regarding an individual student, teachers will be communicating by phone or in face to face meetings.
Office staff, including directors and the CEO, when possible, will also limit email use when communicating with individual families.
Board of Directors
Mr. Andrew Vestey was raised by a single mother in San Gabriel, CA until the age of 14. Mr. Vestey moved to Chino, CA, where he attended Don Lugo High School. During high school, Mr. Vestey played varsity football and varsity baseball. Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Vestey was continued his education at Chaffey College. At 18 years old, he was hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a Custody Assistant. Mr. Vestey was then hired two years later as a Deputy Sheriff for the Sheriff’s Department. In 2002, Mr. Vestey left the Sheriff’s Department and began working for the Chino Police Department as a patrol officer. In 2005, Mr. Vestey left the Chino Police Department and began working as a Police Officer for the Fontana Police Department. At the Fontana Police Department, he has been assigned as a patrol officer, SWAT member, field training officer, narcotics investigator, DEA Task Force Officer, Police Corporal, Detective and taser instructor. Mr. Vestey is a decorated law enforcement professional and has been recognized several times for his commitment to the community. Mr. Vestey received the Chino Police Department’s bravery award for his actions during an active shooter situation in a residential neighborhood. Mr. Vestey was named the Fontana Police Department’s employee of the month and employee of the year while assigned to the Narcotics Unit. Mr. Vestey was also recognized as the California Narcotic Officers Association Region 5 Al Stewart Award recipient as the narcotics officer of the year.
While growing up, Mr. Vestey learned the importance of education. He continued his education, while serving the community as a Police Officer. Mr. Vestey earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Fullerton and his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.
He has been married for 10 years to Laura Vestey. They have one son and two daughters, who will attend Allegiance STEAM Academy. Mr. Vestey is active in coaching baseball in Chino Hills Pony and has also coached soccer at Chino AYSO. Mr. Vestey was a member of the Fontana Police Officers Association Board of Directors, where he served as President for two years. During his time on the Board of Directors, Mr. Vestey volunteered hundreds of hours to the Fontana community and was the lead negotiator in two contract negotiations. Mr. Vestey also served as a member of the Board of Directors of a charter school in the Chino Valley, serving as the Board Chairman.
Mr. Vestey is excited for this new journey not only for his family, but for all families who believe in School Choice. Mr. Vestey believes all children should be afforded a quality education that will meet their needs.
Samantha Odo received her BS in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology from University of California, San Diego in 1999. She is currently a Senior Key Account Manager for Merck KGaA a German multinational chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences company headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany. Merck KGaA has around 50,000 employees in around 70 countries and is the world's oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company, as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Previously, she held a Life Science Specialist position with Sigma Aldrich an American chemical, life science and biotechnology company with 9,600 employees in 40 countries.
She was also a Regional Manager for BMG Labtechnologies, Inc a capital equipment company providing research equipment to pharmaceutical, biotechology, government and university research laboratories from 2001-2009. Samantha’s interest in science started early in her childhood, but her AP Biology teacher in high school gave her a motivation to take that interest to passion of wanting to learn more. She hopes to give children an opportunity to experience science and technology as she did in a school setting in hopes to exposing as many students as possible in science and technology. School choice is very important to Samantha and her dream is to be a partner in providing families options and choices in their children’s education.
Mr. Jason Liso is a staunch supporter of school choice, and the STEAM philosophy. He is excited to serve on the Board and be a part of the growth of this amazing new school.
Mr. Liso was raised in Fullerton, California. He attend grade school in the La Habra City School District and attended Sonora High School in La Habra, California. At Sonora Mr. Liso played baseball, basketball and football. He was also involved in student government, serving as the ASB Social Science Senator. After graduating in 1999, Mr. Liso then attended California State University, Fullerton as part of the inaugural class of the University Honors and Scholars Program.
While at CSUF Mr. Liso studied political science and minored in criminal justice, graduating in 2003 cum laude with University Honors. He was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honors society and Golden Key International Honors Society. Mr. Liso also worked as a Congressional Intern for Hon. Ed Royce of California's 39th Congressional District.
In 2003 Mr. Liso attended Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California where he studied law, with an emphasis in criminal law. While at Whittier, he participated in the Moot Court Program and in his third year, acted as the program's Chief Justice (President). Mr. Liso graduated from law school in 2006, magna cum laude in the top 10% of his class. He took and passed the November 2006 California Bar Exam.
Mr. Liso is currently a Deputy District Attorney for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, a position he has held since 2007. During his time in the District Attorney's Office, he has prosecuted misdemeanor crimes and felony crimes including murder cases. One of his high profile cases involved the prosecution of a Rialto Unified School District employee accused of embezzling over $4 million dollars of public funds. Mr. Liso secured a conviction and secured over $1 million dollars of restitution for the victim school district. He is currently assigned to the Central Division prosecuting Felony Homicides.
Since 2012 Mr. Liso has served as a Captain in the United States Air Force Reserve. He is a member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps attached to the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Prior to that, he was assigned to the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. During his time in the Air Force Mr. Liso has earned the Air Force Commendation Medal and was the 12th Air Force Air Reserve Component Judge Advocate General of the Year for 2015.
Mr. Liso is married to Danielle, and has twin boys who attend ASA. In his spare time Mr. Liso enjoys camping, riding ATVs, playing softball, basketball and reading about American History, military history, and sports.
Marcilyn Jones is a native to the Inland Empire, having graduated from Canyon Hills Junior High and Ayala High School. After moving away to attend California State University, Northridge Marcilyn obtained her BA in English with a focus in Education.
Upon her completion of her BA degree, she worked in behavior Therapy with Autistic children at The Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis and then pursued her Masters of Arts in Education and her Single Subject Teaching Credential in English. In 2004, she began teaching English at Opportunities for Learning Public Charter School. She has worked in charter schools for over 10 years as a Teacher, an Assistant Principal and now an English Language Development Program Head. Her current position at Opportunities for Learning Public Charter Schools allows her to support Bilingual Learners by creating resources, training teachers on data driven instruction and overseeing instructional programs that encourage and support language acquisition for a network of over 140,000 students served since 1999 across several districts.
Throughout her professional career, she has served as a Western Association for Credentialing (WASC) Committee Member and Chair, coached Girls Basketball, supported opening/petitioning new charters, developed curriculum, is a trainer of the SIOP Instructional Model (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) and has recently completed her Administrative Credential Program in 2018.
Her passion for educational choice and evolution is the reason why she wanted to be a part of the ASA family. She is married to a Build Engineer and has three amazing children, two boys and one girl. She enjoys traveling with her family and trying new restaurants in her free time.
Because of her charter school experience, Marcilyn is a key asset to supporting the development and success of ASA, to be one of the best school options in the Chino Valley. She is excited to assist with carrying out their vision and plans for the success of all students.
Melanie Choi has worked as a Premium Auditor since 2004 when she moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to Southern California. She has Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
After moving to California, Ms. Choi began her training as a premium auditor specializing in workers compensation and general liability audits. In her 14 years of experience she has audited companies such as Legoland, U-haul, Shea Homes and Crunch Holdings. In addition, she has assisted with fraud audits for district attorney’s in San Diego.
Ms. Choi is a mother who is devoted to her daughter. During her free time she loves to help her daughter with extracurricular activities such as golf, tennis and Girl Scouts. And when she finds the time, she loves to watch movies.