Faculty Bios

Martin Freel
Principal

In the Spring of 2020, I was hired to become the new principal at St. Jude the Apostle School. Working with young men and women in schools has always been passion of mine, but the chance to be principal at a school such as St. Jude’s has always been my dream. I feel very fortunate to work and live in a community that has such a great interest in how our students develop both spiritually and academically. As principal, I look forward to continually improving our academic programs, our religious educational opportunities and building a strong community everyday.

Before coming to St. Jude’s, I worked in the Las Virgenes Unified School District for nearly a decade. I began teaching at A.E. Wright Middle School as a Special Education teacher after three years of teaching special education for the VCOE. At A.E. Wright I oversaw the Social Communications program which was a specialized program that helped develop social skills and emotional regulation abilities for students with autism or other social/emotional learning needs. I also served as the Special Education department chair before having our program moved for two years to Lindero Canyon Middle School.

During my years as a teacher, I received my Masters in Education from Azusa Pacific University. In addition to my Masters, I also received my Administrative Credential from the LVUSD new CenterEdX program that worked with UC Santa Barbara. I was a part of the first graduating cohort and recipient of the Kaizen Award for candidate leadership. I then was appointed to be the first Dean of Student Safety in LVUSD and worked closely with local law enforcement to help reduce drug, alcohol and tobacco use on our school campuses. I oversaw 14 school campuses’ school safety plans and presented to over 7,000 students in one year about the harmful effects of vaping and drug use in teens today. Following my time as the Dean of Student Safety, I became the Assistant Principal at Calabasas High School. In this capacity, I oversaw athletics, safety and facilities in addition to our Science, Art, PE and Special Education programs.

I have always loved working with high school student-athletes as a high school football coach. I am entering my 13th season as a high school coach, currently serving as the defensive coordinator at Oak Park High School. I have been privileged to coach dozens of student-athletes that have gone on to play college football and a few have even played in the NFL. The connection between being a coach and teacher is strong and has taught me that the most important quality I can bring to any school is the ability to build and maintain relationships. Lastly, and most importantly, I am a proud husband to my wife Brenda and our four children, Colin, Dylan, Olivia and Braxton. We are all blessed to be a part of the St. Jude’s community.

It is a great honor to have the ability to work with our staff and students at St. Jude’s. I believe deeply in creating an environment that is positive and proactive. Our school is dedicated daily to safety, academic excellence, spiritual growth and positivity for each of our students.

Angelica Arisohn
Kindergarten Teacher

I have been a member of the St. Jude family since 2015.  I was previously a staff member at St. Peter Claver Preschool and Kindergarten in Simi Valley, California, for four and a half years.  Although I enjoyed working with preschool and kindergarten students very much, I was very excited about teaching first grade.  I felt it was God’s plan when I became a part of the St. Jude family.  The timing was perfect and everything fell right into place.

I was born and raised in Simi Valley, California.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from California Lutheran University.  I also received my California Teaching Credential and Masters in Multiple Subjects from Loyola Marymount University.  I hold a cleared teaching credential.

I feel students need to be educated in all aspects:  socially, academically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My favorite part about teaching is watching the students grow and make strides in their learning every day.  I love teaching at St. Jude because I can use God on a daily basis to help children make good choices.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Johnny, along with our two children, Avery and Anthony.  My favorite place to go is Disneyland.  I also like to go shopping and exercise.  I love to watch sports, especially baseball and football.  I feel extremely blessed to be part of the St. Jude the Apostle School family!

Denise Itule
First Grade Teacher

I have been a member of the St. Jude family since 2015.  I was previously a staff member at St. Peter Claver Preschool and Kindergarten in Simi Valley, California, for four and a half years.  Although I enjoyed working with preschool and kindergarten students very much, I was very excited about teaching first grade.  I felt it was God’s plan when I became a part of the St. Jude family.  The timing was perfect and everything fell right into place.

I was born and raised in Simi Valley, California.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from California Lutheran University.  I also received my California Teaching Credential and Masters in Multiple Subjects from Loyola Marymount University.  I hold a cleared teaching credential.

I feel students need to be educated in all aspects:  socially, academically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My favorite part about teaching is watching the students grow and make strides in their learning every day.  I love teaching at St. Jude because I can use God on a daily basis to help children make good choices.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Johnny, along with our two children, Avery and Anthony.  My favorite place to go is Disneyland.  I also like to go shopping and exercise.  I love to watch sports, especially baseball and football.  I feel extremely blessed to be part of the St. Jude the Apostle School family!

Denise Itule
First Grade Teacher

I have been a member of the St. Jude family since 2015.  I was previously a staff member at St. Peter Claver Preschool and Kindergarten in Simi Valley, California, for four and a half years.  Although I enjoyed working with preschool and kindergarten students very much, I was very excited about teaching first grade.  I felt it was God’s plan when I became a part of the St. Jude family.  The timing was perfect and everything fell right into place.

I was born and raised in Simi Valley, California.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from California Lutheran University.  I also received my California Teaching Credential and Masters in Multiple Subjects from Loyola Marymount University.  I hold a cleared teaching credential.

I feel students need to be educated in all aspects:  socially, academically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My favorite part about teaching is watching the students grow and make strides in their learning every day.  I love teaching at St. Jude because I can use God on a daily basis to help children make good choices.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Johnny, along with our two children, Avery and Anthony.  My favorite place to go is Disneyland.  I also like to go shopping and exercise.  I love to watch sports, especially baseball and football.  I feel extremely blessed to be part of the St. Jude the Apostle School family!

Kaitlyn Theodoulou
Assistant Principal
Second Grade Teacher

I am so excited to return to St. Jude as the Assistant Principal and Second Grade teacher! I went to St. Jude from kindergarten through eighth grade, so coming back to teach is like coming home for me! I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I received a Bachelors of Science in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Child Development and a California Multiple Subject Credential.

Being able to teach at St. Jude has always been a dream of mine. Growing up with a St. Jude, Catholic education made me the person I am today. This education taught me to live every aspect of my life with compassion and love. I believe in the importance in teaching God’s love through every lesson. I hope that my graduating students know that God is and will always be there for them, and that living through Christ and His teachings will make them strong leaders of society.

As the second grade teacher, I try to make every day engaging and fun. Creating memorable moments for my students makes teaching the most amazing job in the world. My favorite part about teaching is seeing my students discover new concepts. Their look of excitement in finally understanding something that once seemed challenging is the best part of being a teacher.

As an Assistant Principal, I encourage all students to be good leaders and kind above all else. I believe that teaching important skills, such as responsibility and empathy, will greatly help the students to become successful members of society.  As a member of the Administrative team, I enjoy helping St. Jude School strengthen as a community and grow academically each year.

I am the oldest of four children and love spending time with my family more than anything. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, traveling with my husband, cooking, hiking, and doing jigsaw puzzles. My passion is teaching, and I feel so fortunate and blessed to return to the St. Jude School family!

Sara Andrea
Third Grade Teacher

I am from Pennsylvania where I received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Masters of Science degree in Elementary Administration.  I hold a California Teaching Credential and a Preliminary Administration Credential.  During my years in education, I have taught kindergarten, fourth grade, fifth grade, and eighth grade.  I am currently the third grade teacher at St. Jude the Apostle School.

My first teaching position was at a Catholic school in Pennsylvania where I taught fourth and fifth grades.  After I moved to California, I taught fifth grade for five years at a private school, Sierra Canyon.  While at Sierra Canyon, I was the fifth grade team leader and student council advisor.  I took on the position as testing coordinator, where I remained for eight and a half years.  I taught at Sierra Canyon for a total of thirteen and a half years.

I was very interested in the teaching position at St. Jude due to my Catholic upbringing and having started my career in a Catholic school.  I feel very blessed that the families of St. Jude welcomed me into the community.  I am so happy to be a part of it!

Gabriela Pantoja
Fourth Grade Teacher

I am ecstatic to return to St. Jude as the fourth grade homeroom teacher.  I began my journey here as an aide in the resource room, as well as supporting math intervention.  I also worked in the after-school program!  I did so while an undergraduate at California Lutheran University where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Educational Studies, and later my teaching credential.  I also received my Masters Degree in Teacher Leadership from Cal Lutheran in 2020!

Being a teacher at St. Jude is like coming home for me.  I grew up in the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Ventura where I received a Catholic education up through high school.  This has taught me the importance of keeping God at the center of my lessons so that each child may know that they are made in the likeness of Him.  It is my hope that my students grow to be kind, responsible members of society, living through Christ, as well as being both technologically savvy and proficient.

I am the eldest sister of two siblings in our family of four and love spending quality time with my younger brother and parents.  During my downtime, I enjoy cooking and baking, hiking, horseback riding, and traveling.  It has always been my passion to work with children, and I could not be more blessed to be a member of the St. Jude family!

Carey Novak
Fifth Grade Teacher

Being a teacher has always been my vocation since I was in Kindergarten.  I have always loved learning and have been fortunate to love what I do.

As a native of California, I was born and raised in Westlake Village and have been part of the St. Jude parish for most of my life.  I attended La Reina High School for 7th through 12th grades.  After graduating, I chose to attend the University of Portland in Oregon, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  I then earned my Master’s degree in Elementary Education and teaching credential at Pepperdine University.

One of my goals when I began teaching was to be a Catholic school educator.  I have been teaching at St. Jude the Apostle School since 1996 and have loved it here since my first day of teaching.  My philosophy is to take advantage of each lesson that is presented, whether it is academic or just simply about life.  I want my students to ask questions and to take accountability for their mistakes and learn from them.  I want for them to work hard and to have fun.  Above all else, my hope is that they respect everyone, and most importantly, keep Christ at the center.

On a more personal note, I am so grateful for my ever-growing Catholic faith, my husband, and our son.  I very much enjoy learning, spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, playing a myriad of games with family and friends, and playing golf.

Eli Anzoleaga
Sixth Grade Teacher

Being a teacher has always been my vocation since I was in Kindergarten.  I have always loved learning and have been fortunate to love what I do.

As a native of California, I was born and raised in Westlake Village and have been part of the St. Jude parish for most of my life.  I attended La Reina High School for 7th through 12th grades.  After graduating, I chose to attend the University of Portland in Oregon, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  I then earned my Master’s degree in Elementary Education and teaching credential at Pepperdine University.

One of my goals when I began teaching was to be a Catholic school educator.  I have been teaching at St. Jude the Apostle School since 1996 and have loved it here since my first day of teaching.  My philosophy is to take advantage of each lesson that is presented, whether it is academic or just simply about life.  I want my students to ask questions and to take accountability for their mistakes and learn from them.  I want for them to work hard and to have fun.  Above all else, my hope is that they respect everyone, and most importantly, keep Christ at the center.

On a more personal note, I am so grateful for my ever-growing Catholic faith, my husband, and our son.  I very much enjoy learning, spending time with my family, traveling, cooking, playing a myriad of games with family and friends, and playing golf.

Erin Cleary
Seventh Grade Teacher

I attended California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks for my undergraduate degree. While I had originally started as a history major, I found myself much more drawn to teaching than I had originally anticipated. I ended up majoring in Liberal Studies with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Through an exchange program at Cal Lutheran, I was able to intern in schools throughout Ventura County and even in Swedish primary schools. It was these internships, my work with my local community, and my degree that initially gave me a strong background in educating the whole student.

After graduating from Cal Lutheran, I immediately started graduate school at Loyola Marymount University in a program called PLACE Corps. Through this program I earned my Masters of Arts in Education and teaching credential while I taught at an under-resourced Catholic School in the Boyle Heights community of East Los Angeles. My time at this school, run by the Daughters of Charity, was incredibly formative for me. From experiences such as running the school spelling bee or moderating the Vincentian-Marian Youth, a club for middle school students that focused on Vincentian service and Marian devotion, I developed a deep appreciation for Catholic education.

After completing my Masters in Education, I continued to teach at the same school for the next two years. During this time, I completed a Masters of Education in Instructional Design. I truly love learning and believe that it opens doors for people. As a teacher, this is one of my goals: to help my students appreciate and love learning as well. Middle school is an incredibly formative time in a student’s life, and it’s during this time that it is important to develop good life skills and study habits.

Jilian Vitelli
Assistant Principal
Eighth Grade

As a product of Catholic education, I knew the value in Catholic education and wanted to  share my faith with the students I teach. God apparently had the same plan for me as this  is my first job out of college, and I truly feel that St. Jude is the place I am meant to be.

I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my undergraduate studies,  earning my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. During my time in college, I  volunteered in a public school, working with fifth grade and kindergarten students, and  realized that education was my true calling.

I came to St. Jude in 2002 as a teacher’s aide in the third grade. I learned so much from  the amazing teachers I had the privilege to work with and was given the opportunity to  apply what I was learning in my credential classes at Cal State Northridge. After two  years of experience and the completion of the credential program, I was ready for a  classroom of my own. I never would have chosen junior high, but again, God knows  better than I do, and junior high has been the perfect fit for me.

I have been able to integrate my love of teaching with my love of reading in the  Literature classes that I teach. Whether reading short stories, poems, plays, or novels, the  students and I work together to analyze what we are reading and find the overall message.  What I love most about teaching at St. Jude is that we then get to apply these messages to  our Catholic faith. The students get to discover our Catholic values in a variety of places  and not just in Religion books. I can’t imagine not integrating my faith into the Literature that I teach!

As an Assistant Principal, I strive to be a positive example of kindness and faith for the  students. With a firm but loving hand, I hope to help all students reach their full potential  and grow as individuals both through their triumphs and struggles. St. Jude is an  amazing community, and I am so proud to be a part of the leadership of the school!