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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 ...

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


5th grade / PE / Theatre Arts

My name is Erika Orrantia and I am thrilled to spend my 5th year at the EPJA teaching 5th grade English Language Arts, along with Physical Education, and am anxious to incorporate my theatrical background! I have had the opportunity to teach every elementary grade level, and love what each has to offer. In addition to being a certified teacher, I am a certified PE coach and have experience coaching after-school sports such as kickball and soccer.

Although raised mostly in Arizona, I was born ...

Barbara Stegmiller


Pre-K classroom teacher

Teaching is an absolute passion of mine!  I am so excited to work with you and your child!  It’s going to be a year full of fun, learning, and lots of adventures, and I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for us!  I thought you might like to know a little bit about me.

I am married to my wonderful husband Emilio.  We have 3 grown children.  2 daughters named Christina and Jamie and a son named Emilio.  We also have 2 beautiful grandchildren.  A grandson who will be entering ...

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

After living in El Paso for thirty plus years, my husband and I have become naturalized Texans. I was born in upstate New York and at nineteen married my husband Frank and moved to San Antonio, Texas. We have lived in Texas 43 out of 49 years of our marriage. We have three children (all adults now), one principal in a high school, one high school Humanities teacher, and one in the medical field. I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor or Arts Degree and ...