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Senior Administration

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RYANNE PLAISANCE

Head of School

I began my career in Chicago working with homeless families.  It was during this time I became really interested in our education system and how it was supporting all our children.  Education is the key for our children to connect their passions with a purpose.  We are natural born scientists. Children want to know things.  They want the opportunity to explore and discover.  They want to be challenged and in the best learning environments they often surprise us with what they can accomplish.

 

In the next few years, I had moved to Los Angeles and spent time working with both children who were homeless, in the foster care system, and in private school settings.  As a teacher I spent time dreaming about a school that would allow me to provide our children with an environment that catered to each of them.  I worked with kids in Preschool to High School as a teacher and curriculum developer.  In early childhood, kids would come to me eager to learn but by High School most couldn’t wait to escape school.  I often questioned what we were doing.  These kids were spending so much time memorizing information to ace a test but were not able to apply this knowledge.  I studied other school models nationally and internationally.  Charged with research that would better our education  system, I spent time working in administration and policy.  The results were slow and I wondered where my own daughters were going to attend school.  I needed something better today-- not in 20 years.  I wanted my kids to attend a Language Immersion school that focused on the arts as much as it did language acquisition.  I wanted my kids to learn biology by working with scientists in nature.  I wanted them to become global citizens.  I wanted them to be socially and emotionally intelligent.  I wanted them to find meaning in their work and education.  I wanted a lot!  It was then that my partner and I created a plan to open Argo Navis School.

 

In 2015 we opened our first preschool.  In September of 2017 we opened the doors to our elementary school.  I dreamed about this school, but I couldn’t have imagined the community that has made Argo Navis a success.  We are a community that values people, entrepreneurship, and supporting all children to reach their potential academically and developmentally.  I invite you to tour our schools and see if we are a good match for what you want for your child’s education.

I attended DePaul University's prestigious BFA Acting program and hold a Master of Arts in Human Development specializing in Early Childhood Education.

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PAUL CONWAY

Director of Strategic Operations / CFO

I was primed for success.  I attended a private grade school, went to a College Preparatory and graduated with Honors.  And when I took the ACTs to get into college, I scored so low that everyone (including me) thought it must've been a mistake.  Then I took the ACTs again, and scored even lower.  I spent the next 20 years of my life battling the self-image that I was actually a dumb kid pretending to be smart.  All because of one test.

Today there is so much research that shows us that each person learns differently and uniquely, and that a standardized test cannot measure the sum of a person's potential.  And certainly not the quality of character which drives and motivates a person to true success and happiness in life.

We launched this school with many ambitions, not least, to provide a place of learning which strives for academic achievement while guiding young students to find "joy in learning".  We believe emotional intelligence is equivalent in importance to academic excellence, and discovering how each child learns and processes is a critical key to this path.  We do not "teach to the test", rather, we ask questions that open young minds to explore, discover, and learn deeply for themselves, all while cultivating a passion for learning.  As human beings, this is true learning, and it is joyful!

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DINA CRUZ

Preschool Director

Hello there! Let me take you on a journey through my story. My roots were nurtured in the vibrant embrace of Sherman Oaks, CA, where countless fond memories were forged. A little over seven years ago, my adventure took an exciting turn as my husband and I embarked on a new chapter in the heart of Los Angeles. Our days are graced by the presence of three incredible children—a 19-year-old, a 6-year-old, and an equally charming 5-year-old. These young souls bring endless joy to our lives, and they're also proud attendees of the esteemed Argo Navis Elementary School.

From the tender age of fifteen, a profound connection with children revealed my true calling—the art of teaching, which has seamlessly allowed me to bond with students of all ages. Witnessing their boundless curiosity and unwavering enthusiasm for understanding the world became a fount of wisdom and inspiration for my own growth. Proficient in both Spanish and English, I hold dear the opportunity to share the splendor of the Spanish language with both children and the broader community.

At Argo Navis, my role as the Director of the Argo Navis Preschool fills me with profound fulfillment with helping the children to freely express themselves and to create a space where their thoughts find eloquent articulation. Argo Navis' unique emphasis on nature resonates deeply with me—an affinity that infuses every aspect of the institution. Unlike any other educational environment, this school seamlessly merges academic rigor with unabashed enjoyment, igniting a harmonious student-school relationship that's nothing short of transformative.

Beyond the educational realm, my personal delights often lead me outdoors, where I revel in camping escapades, beachfront explorations, and the thrill of truck adventures with my cherished family. My passions extend to the culinary arts, uncovering hidden treasures during shopping excursions, crafting imaginative creations, and curating the perfect interior spaces.

Should our paths cross in public, I extend an open invitation to strike up a conversation. Engaging dialogues about our shared world, personal interests, or anything related to the enchanting realm of Argo Navis are always a delight. So, don't hesitate to say hello—it's a pleasure I eagerly anticipate!

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CARRIE HARTMAN

Director of Culinary Programs

Growing up in a rural suburb of Chicago, I developed wanderlust. I wanted to travel around the globe and into space. I dreamed of visiting far-off lands while watching PBS. I gravitated towards cooking shows and became fascinated with the expression of culture through food. I started cooking for my family at age 10 and it still remains my favorite activity.


My love of math, physics, and space exploration lead me to engineering. After finishing my B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career as an Astrodynamicist. For 16 years, I planned, launched, and flew communication satellite missions from the Boeing mission control center in El Segundo, CA.  While still at Boeing, I was able to return to my passion for food. I completed a Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree program at the Art Institute of Los Angeles.


I left Boeing with two objectives: spend more time with my family and “do good through food”. The first year after Boeing, I volunteered as a Culinary Instructor at L.A. Kitchen’s Empower L.A. job training program. The second year, I worked as an Engineering Project Manager at Local Roots Farms. And now, I’m the Director of Culinary Programs. I’m looking forward to sparking wanderlust in a whole new generation of explorers.

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LAUREN TARNE

Admissions Manager

I’m an LA native who spent my youth living throughout the San Fernando valley. After high school, I knew I wanted to experience a world outside of LA so I chose to go to Arizona for college. I have lived in Dallas, San Francisco, Las Vegas but this LA girl couldn't stay away for long. 

 

While I majored in Media Arts, Theater Arts and French, I found that one's opportunities in the workplace often didn't align with one's field of study -- a nagging reality that I learned to accept. I started off working in public relations, marketing and branding. I worked with high profile clients and small businesses alike and across industries including architecture, aviation, entertainment, fashion, technology and more. I honed those important client-facing skills the hard way while gaining invaluable business insights.

 

In my next chapter, I dove into the exciting and temperamental profession of real estate. I was able to weave my marketing and client service skills seamlessly into this entrepreneurial venture. After 10 years of building a successful business, I decided to take a break as I was about to embark on yet another life change - becoming a mother. Which brings me to my most recent career change. 

 

After enrolling my son into preschool at Argo Navis (formerly City Kids) at age 2.5, I learned that while our world has changed dramatically in so many ways, our education system, put simply, has not. I wanted an education for my child that prioritized the skills needed for an evolving, interdependent world, where he would be able to communicate effectively, think critically and solve problems creatively along his own journey. I wanted his education to be about him, not about standard requirements that don’t take his individuality into account. So when I was offered the opportunity to join the school as the Admissions Manager, I jumped at it. It is a joy to help grow this truly special school. I am so excited to help raise the awareness of Argo Navis in our community and share with families the experiential curriculum and individualized academics that we offer here. 

 

At Argo Navis, our hope is that by the time students are moving into college, careers, or adulthood, they've had so many varied experiences, they are able to confidently chart their own course. Onward!

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ACASIA VICKNAIR

Dean of Students

The first time I heard the line "no man is an island, entire of itself" from poet John Donne, it changed me. I was very young and had never given community much thought, but this one line inspired and intrigued me. Since that time, building community has been a personal and professional priority.

 

I spent 18 years working in mental health consulting and training in Los Angeles, with two simple objectives -- change lives and build community. Finding innovative ways to fill gaps in a system long overdue for change was meaningful, challenging, and life-changing and served to show me what can happen with limited resources, constant effort, and a massive vision. 

 

I became a part of the Argo Navis community in Spring of 2016 -- my daughter, then a toddler, needed a daycare/preschool and finding the right fit was a trying experience. Tour after tour and interview after interview, we finally stumbled upon Argo Navis (formerly City Kids) - with one opening that Spring - and we were home. Within no time, my daughter was thriving, and the small community was growing.

 

I've long held the personal philosophy that the sentiment "good enough" isn't good enough. When I joined the Argo community, I learned that this was a shared philosophy. I am now privileged to see this in action as the Dean of Students, working with a dedicated and dynamic team in support of all of our students, through innovative education and social-emotional learning. 

 

In my free time, I love to experiment with vegan recipes, take leisurely hikes, listen to live music, and spend quality time with family and friends. 

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PAULA HENSON

Environmental Programs Director

As a native Angelino and fourth generation Californian, I believe it’s important to have a strong sense of our environment. Modeling responsible practices helps to shape the choices children make in their lives. Interacting with nature is the key to appreciating it, and creating space for exploration and collaboration is one of the great features of Argo Navis!


I taught preschool in Santa Monica for 13 years and have worked in landscape design, water conservation and environmental education since 1998. I worked with several environmental groups and love teaching and writing about water, soil, gardening, education and urban design. Along with my Certification in Early Childhood Education and Horticulture & Gardening from UCLA Extension, I have a degree in Political Science from UCLA.


I love to travel and am currently working on some children’s book ideas.

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