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EPJA Faculty

Nili Arusi


K-2 Grade Judaics Studies

Nili Arusi was born and raised in Israel.  After graduating from high school there, Nili completed her national service in Education.  She received her diploma in Graphic Design in Israel, and came to El Paso in 1992.  While living in El Paso, Nili earned a travel agent certification and worked in that field until 1996.  Nili is currently pursuing a degree in Business Administration from Park University in El Paso.  She has four children.

Nili began working at EPJA in 1998 as a Hebrew and ...

Patricia Crossett


2nd & 3rd Grade Secular Studies

Patricia Crossett, born in Germany, moved to El Paso at the age of one, and has remained here ever since (except for attending college).  Patricia graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.  Patricia also received a degree in Early Childhood, along with a minor in Elementary Music.

Patricia began teaching at the age of 22, and has taught 1st grade for 33 years.  She joined EPJA in 2012, teaching 3rd grade, and is now teaching a ...

Esther Kuchinsky


2nd – 8th Judaics Studies

Esther Kuchinsky was born in Mexico City.  She and her husband Michael have three children, Ben, David and Yael.  Esther studied at the Seminar Lemorim in Mexico City, and became a Hebrew teacher in 1974.  Esther has been teaching Hebrew ever since.

Teaching children Hebrew and Judaics is Esther’s passion.  She loves children, Judaism, and Israel, so by teaching at EPJA she is doing what she truly enjoys--teaching children to embrace Jewish traditions and love Israel.

Veronica Lascurain


Art Teacher

Veronica has been in touch with art since she was born.  Her dad was an architect and an artist, so she decided to follow in his steps.  Now she does the same, except instead of becoming an architect, she studied interior and architectural design.  8 years ago, she opened an art school where they teach drawing, painting, photography and creative writing to children and adults. She has been painting for over 15 years and keeps learning new things every day.  She also has a passion for mural art ...

Erika Orrantia



Erika is originally from Tucson, Arizona and graduated from Northern Arizona University.  While her degree was aimed to teach at the high school level, she fell in love working with young children when she put on Children's Theatre and Improvisation Workshops at Flagstaff's "Theatrikos."

After home-schooling her son in Kindergarten and sending off her youngest to school, she has been working daily with children in different capacities for seven years.  She previously taught at EPJA teaching ...

Don Thompson


4th – 8th Science

Donald Thompson graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso in 1981 with a B.S. Physical Education (All Levels) and a Minor in Life/Earth Science. He started his teaching career in 1981 in the El Paso Independent School District as a K-12 Physical Education Teacher and athletic coach for grades 7 through 12. He taught 8th Grade Science for 16 out of 18years.

Mr. Thompson was selected as one of the Top Ten Finalists for Teacher of the Year in 1988 with EPISD.  In 1999, Mr. Thompson left ...

Ruth Zona


5th-8th Grade Secular Studies

Ruth Zona was born in upstate New York.  She and her husband Frank have been married 48 years and have 3 children; Jason, Jeremy, and Jaimi.  El Paso has been her home for the past 29 years.  Ruth Zona graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.  Her major was Literature with a minor in     History.  She attended The University of Texas to earn her post-graduate certification for middle school Social Studies.. She was employed by the El Paso ...