Our Faculty


Scott Allen, Math

More info coming soon.

Beck Virgil

Virgil Beck, Math & Science

BAE Natural Science, Eastern Washington University. M. Ed. Education, University of Washington. Having grown up in both Seattle and North Idaho, his heart lies somewhere in between––maybe at Vantage. Virgil is an avid cyclist and enjoys both the math and science of bicycle wheel building. In 1995, Virgil completed Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue School, as well as a successful ascent of Mt. Baker. He also hopes that his experience as a photographer, bike mechanic, sailboat crewmember, and dramatist will help him delight the 7th graders at EW.

Aurora DLC headshot

Aurora de la Cruz, Music

BA Music, University of Oregon and MA in Music Education, University of Oregon. Aurora started Explorer West's music program in 1998 and developed the curriculum over the course of 19 years. She taught music at Westside Elementary School and was a teaching associate for 3rd grade at the Bertschi School, just prior to returning to Explorer West in 2022! She believes in fostering the virtues of teamwork, kindness, and joy in all of her endeavors. Aurora currently sings with the Seattle Symphony Chorale and has been performing and recording with the Seattle Symphony since 2007. Besides her love of music and teaching, Aurora enjoys solving puzzles, sailing around the San Juan Islands with her family, and aspiring to be a decent golfer.

Hall Daniela

Daniela Hall, Social Studies/History, Learning Services Coordinator

BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis; MS in Geography, Oregon State University. Daniela joins the Explorer West faculty after 13 years teaching middle school at the Evergreen School in Shoreline and 12 years teaching geography and science at Olympic College in Bremerton. Daniela loves middle schoolers for their enthusiasm, creativity, and corny jokes, and endeavors to capitalize on her students' energy and passions to guide her classroom activities. Originally from the east coast, Daniela grew up in Miami, Florida, and as a kid also spent much time visiting family in the New York City area. Like Lewis and Clark, St. Louis truly was her gateway to the west, and after college, she landed in the Pacific Northwest. Daniela lives in West Seattle with her husband, Mike, and two children, Dempsey and Mila.

Kaine Tara

Tara Kaine, Dean of Students & Drama

BA Toronto University with a special focus on Drama Education and Washington Certified Teacher in Drama for grades K-12. Tara joins Explorer West in the Fall of 2017 after spending the last three years as the drama program coordinator, director, and teacher at Salmon Bay K-8 in Seattle. Tara is also the founder and director of Acting Out Literacy in Seattle where she designed the curriculum for theatre skills, literacy, and social and emotional development in alignment with meeting State and National standards. In addition, Tara has taught and directed at Seattle Children’s Theatre Summer Season and the Seattle Public Theatre’s Youth Program. She strives to create a caring community where students feel heard and are able to take risks to achieve excellence. Working with diverse populations and ages of students, with diverse needs, Tara has learned to prioritize students’ social and emotional development as part of all instruction. As part of community building, she uses a variety of teaching tools to model and deepen our understanding of equity and social justice. Once we have created that foundation together, students are able to thrive and shine in any subject they explore.

Lisa Keith

Lisa Keith, 7th & 8th Grade English

MA Seattle University. Lisa (she/her) grew up near Olympia and spent her childhood exploring the forests and tidelands of South Puget Sound and the homelands of the Nisqually people. She loved to play "school" in the woods near her home and these days is excited to teach at a school that loves the outdoors just as much as she does. Lisa studied creative writing at Western Washington University and was a Writing Fellow supporting students in the writing-intensive courses there. Before joining Explorer West, she spent six years at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, most recently as School Programs and Site Supervisor. There, she led field trips, mentored high school interns in riparian fieldwork and community outreach, and developed and taught curriculum for teen programs. Lisa strives to create a welcoming and playful environment where students of all backgrounds are supported socially and emotionally and where they are encouraged to bring their best to all they do.

Kostle Matt

Matt Kostle, Outdoor Education Coordinator

BA University of Northern Iowa. Matt has extensive experience leading outdoor excursions from ice climbing to canoe expeditions to wilderness first aid classes for kids and adults all around the U.S. He also works for Seattle's Parks Department as a Camp Long Challenge and Ropes Course Facilitator. Matt has led Explorer West's outdoor education program since 2015.

Moore Kristin

Kristin Moore, Science

BA Ripon College and MEd, University of Washington. Kristin joined the Explorer West faculty in 1997. Claiming an inability to sit still for very long, Kristin sympathizes with her often-squiggly students. Consequently, her science classes teem with hands-on projects, and she emphasizes learning in the great outdoors during our overnight trips. Kristin brings a wealth of wilderness, community service, administrative, and middle school teaching experience to Explorer West. During the summers, she is the Sr. Camp Program Director at Camp Treetops, a 7-week camp on a working farm committed to simple and sustainable living. An avid backpacker and environmentalist, Kristin contributes a great deal of experience to our outdoor education program. She is currently certified as a Lifeguard and Wilderness First Responder.

Owens Tim

Tim Owens, Dean of Students & Social Studies/History

BA Politics and Government, The University of Puget Sound and MA in Teaching, Seattle University.  Tim joined Explorer West after teaching eight years at Madison Middle School in West Seattle. He was first hit with the teaching bug while teaching at a high school in rural, northern Japan where he was an assistant language teacher for two years.  Tim has a vast appreciation and understanding of the world through study and travel.  In addition to living in Japan, Tim lived and studied in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.  Tim and his wife, Shelby, live in West Seattle and enjoy hiking, backpacking and international travel in their spare time.

Robertson Palmer Sarah

Sarah Robertson Palmer, Art

BA Art History, University of California at Santa Barbara; MA Art ED, Art of Education University; additional studies at The California College of Arts and The Pratt Fine Arts Center. Sarah has developed, taught, and administered art programs for over 30 years at numerous arts and educational organizations. Sarah enjoys painting, printmaking, ceramics, metalsmithing, collage, mixed media, and jewelry. She has created, exhibited, and sold her art in a variety of venues, and is co-author of a cultural arts activity book, Festivals of Light. Her artwork is featured in the book, Wild With A Glue Gun. World travels inspire her to create a multi-media fine arts and crafts curriculum for her students that includes art history, cultural awareness, and celebration of the imagination.


Cilla Scofield, 6th Grade English & 7th Grade Latin

BA Ancient Studies, Bates College; BA Comparative Literature, MA Classics, University of Washington; Master of Teaching, Seattle University, Washington certified teacher in Latin and Language Arts. Cilla grew up in Hopkinton, New Hampshire where she has fond memories of bike riding on back roads and swimming in lakes. She has worked in education for over 20 years, as an early childhood teacher, a Classics TA, and a middle and high school Latin and Language Arts teacher. Prior to joining Explorer West, Cilla taught at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. She is excited to teach English to EW students who are also learning Latin, as there are so many opportunities for students to make connections: understanding how language works reinforces an understanding of how literature creates meaning. Cilla is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive classroom where students feel safe sharing ideas and interpreting challenging texts. One of the many things she appreciates about middle school students is that "they ask really interesting questions!"

Webber Maripat

Maripat Webber, Latin

BA Latin/English, Dominican College and MA Classics, University of Hawaii, Graduate work in Classics and English, University of Washington. Maripat grew up in the Bay Area and came to Seattle in 1976 for graduate school. She subsequently worked in a variety of roles for various non-profit organizations in Seattle and tutoring in her off hours before gravitating to technical writing. She was Production Editor for Linux Journal and has held editing and writing positions at a number of software companies. Maripat joined the Explorer West faculty in 2004. Since 2006, she has co-led the annual 8th grade trip to Rome. Her interests include books, gardening, books, ancient cultures, Medieval and Renaissance Literature, books, Hawaiiana, and aboriginal canines. Maripat has raised, trained, and lived with Basenjis for 40 years. She and her dogs enjoy long walks, lure coursing, and curling up after all that activity with a good book, usually about the history and archaeology of Rome.

Terra, Yara

Terra Yara, Athletic Director, Physical Education, & Health

BEd Physical Education with a Minor in Athletic Training, University of Hawaii. Born and raised in Hawaii, Terra taught Health/Lifeskills for over 5 years in Hawaii and middle school PE for 13 years in Seattle.  She taught the PACE (Prepared Attitude Cooperation Effort) concept to former Physical Education faculty at Explorer West, so she knows the current system well. She has coached high school volleyball and tennis for 18 years and has earned the Coach of the Year award on several occasions. Terra loves to play tennis and volleyball whenever she can and competes in USTA team tennis competitions on a regular basis.  In her spare time, she invests in real estate, is learning computer programming, and loves to travel to new places.