Dr. Teresa Aris – Director

Dr. Aris has served individuals with disabilities for over 33 years. Some of her experiences include: Special education teacher grades k-12; all disabilities, President of the Wyoming State Independent Living Council, President of the Board of The ARC of Laramie County, Board member for Oregon Council for Exceptional Children, Oregon Autism Group, Exceed Enterprises, and Special Olympics. She has served as an advocate to help parents of children with disabilities, as well as adults with disabilities, since 2010. In addition, she has organized symposiums to bridge the gaps of services and supports to these individuals as well. Dr. Aris currently owns Individualized Learning Centers, New Hope Advocacy, and Paragon HOPE in Phoenix Arizona. These organizations work to preserve the rights of individuals with disabilities and empower them for a life filled with joy and purpose.

Qualifications Include: BS Special and Elementary Education 1986, MAEd Educational Leadership and Administration 1992, National Board Certified Teacher: Exceptional Needs, Birth through Young Adulthood (YA) 2007, Ed.D.: Special Education 2016


Lauren Kehoe – Academic Director / Lead Special Education Teacher

Lauren graduated from The University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and holds a current endorsement in Structured English Immersion. Lauren has been with Nova for 4 years and serves as the lead teacher, overseeing all of our teachers, curriculum, 504s, and Individualized Education Plans. With an extensive background working with children who exhibit behavioral issues and Adverse Childhood Experiences, Lauren also serves as Nova’s certified crisis management trainer.


Nadine Esquivel – Executive Assistant

Nadine is Nova Learning Center’s Executive Assistant. She has a passion for working with children. She is dedicated to empowering children. She has personal experience working with children on the spectrum. She has seen the positive benefits it can have on a child if services are provided on a consistent basis. She is currently attending the University of Arizona to obtain a bachelor’s in Psychology.


Alysson Zatarga – Therapeutic Program Director

Alysson has her MA, MEd, LPC, and is the Therapeutic Program Director for Nova Learning Center. She oversees and helps guide our school counselors.



Tawny Villalobos – Teacher

Ms.Villalobos is new to Arizona coming from California, where she was born and raised. Tawny graduated from The University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services as well has studied in Education focusing on multiple subject credentials at Pepperdine University. Tawny has an extensive background in teaching public and special education classrooms; as well as a Behavioral Therapist for a private ABA company. With her passion for education and applied behavioral therapy, she is excited to start with Nova Learning Center.


Troy Dorsey – Lead Behavior Coach

Troy has been working in education for 8 years. He moved here from Denver, CO where he has taught Social Issues and College & Career Prep. Has also worked on the behavior side of things as a social worker, community liaison, and now as the Lead Behavior Coach here at Nova Learning Center. He currently holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Colorado State University. He is excited to work at the learning Nova Learning Center, because he enjoys making a positive difference in children’s life and believes the goals and vision Nova has set. He is currently working on his Masters in Counseling through Arizona State University. He has a loving fiance Paula, 5 year old son Keanu and is the owner of a husky/wolf mix. His after school activity involves coaching the varsity boys basketball team at Apollo High School in Glendale, AZ.


Jennea Ellis – Behavior Coach 

Jennea serves as a behavioral coach for grades K-8 here at Nova. With experience in working with and teaching kids combined with having overcome personal hardships of her own, she is very passionate about mental health and child development. She recognizes the impact it has on children when given a positive education environment. Jennea has a goal of getting her degree to become a licensed child psychologist in the near future.


Tyler Huisman – Behavior Coach 

Tyler moved to Arizona this year from Iowa where he was born and raised. He received his Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Iowa. Tyler has been advocating for students needs the past 6 years. He is currently working on his Masters in School Counseling and is excited to help contribute to Nova’s mission.