Aliyah Bacca was called to education as a young child and has always pursued knowledge, justice, and equity from the moment she learned she had a voice. She holds a Bachelors Degree from Howard University in Washington D.C., which includes a major in English Literature with a minor in Secondary Education. She has been teaching middle school and some high school all over the country for over 13 years now, and she is passionate about the power of education to affect change in the global society. Additionally, she loves to read all genres of literature, but she especially loves historical fiction. When she is not teaching, she loves to go on long walks with her husband and furry poodle Jupiter. Her key goal as an educator is to help students actualize their dreams for their future and find their place in the world. 




Hi, my name is Aisha Hassan. I was born in Somalia and I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have my bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s degree in education from University of Utah. I have taught chemistry at Hunter High School for the past six years. My passion, what inspires me, is inclusive classrooms. This is an area where I am constantly making growth as an educator as I am building relationships with students who give me feedback. This passion has further developed my philosophy that learning is a point of access. Providing access to all my students is a priority for me as an educator. As a chemistry teacher, it is also my mission to provide STEM access for my underrepresented students. Therefore, I continuously strive to create safe, caring, and equitable learning space for my students. 

When I first started working at Hunter High, the chemistry class offerings were separated into regular chemistry and honors chemistry. The school had a narrow perspective of what constituted an honors student versus what constituted a general education student. This narrow view kept many strong chemistry students, mainly students of color, from the honors and AP track. I had a strong belief that inclusive classrooms would both eliminate this narrow lens and at the same time provide opportunities for students often overlooked in the traditional system--this includes students of color and students of lower socioeconomic background. In the past six years, I have taken a leadership role in pushing for inclusive classrooms. By modeling how to mix an honors and general chemistry classroom, how to use multi-modal approaches to assessment, and give support to less traditional students, I have helped my fellow teachers see the benefits and possibilities of an inclusive learning environment. As a result, the honors and AP chemistry program at Hunter High has seen significant growth in the representation of students of color, girls, and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

My work in inclusion has tasked me to see my students as unique individuals with funds of knowledge that must be accessed. If my first interactions with them is based on notes on a computer that identify them as SPED, EL, honors, or regular, I am liable to miss their strengths or fail to see their needs. My most important job is to provide a learning space that empowers my students in their learning journey so that they can move on to make the contributions they are capable of making in the greater world. Failure to meet their needs means failure for them to meet their best potential. I am proud of the role I have played in asking administrators, fellow teachers, parents, and students to see learning as an individual journey. One that should not be held back by labels, but one where every person has something to offer.

Across the state of Utah, I have worked with teachers who are equally passionate about this work, but were not sure as to how to proceed. Once again, I have decided to take the risk of opening up my classroom and practice to others. It only through this willingness to be vulnerable that we grow and invite others to grow alongside us. It is my work to develop inclusive classrooms and encourage teachers to take risks that I feel have been my greatest contributions so far. 

Bianca Mittendorf has an extensive background in the nonprofit sector working with children and adults with disabilities. She also previously taught special education at the elementary and middle school levels. Advocating for social and racial justice is her passion and thus she is active in various community organizations. In her downtime, Mrs. Bianca enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and reading.




Hello everyone! My name is Caray Long. I am so excited to join you all in growing, learning, and thriving at Rise Virtual Academy. I received my bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion from Weber State University and my bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Utah State University. I spent the early years of my career in education at Roy Jr. High School teaching Resource Math (8th grade), Resource English (9th grade), Social Skills, and coaching track and volleyball. As a Black educator, I have strived to use my voice to advocate for inclusivity and I participate in local social and racial justice community resource groups. Currently, I am using my voice as an Equity Compliance Officer at Davis School District. Outside of my career in education, I enjoy reading, being outdoors, learning about other cultures, and exploring everything the Earth has to offer. I look forward to learning with you and your families.










Greetings families,


I am so excited to be a teacher at Rise Virtual Academy and afforded the opportunity to introduce myself. Prior to teaching in public school I received a bachelor of science in psychology. I worked as a marriage and family counselor, with at risk families, in both NY and Atlanta for four years. During that time, as an intern for a licensed clinical social worker,  I helped families who were going through child protective services stick to a reunification plan, start their healing process as a family, and reunite if at all possible. I also helped couples address marital issues. My intention was to become a clinical psychologist. 


However, I left my career in counseling when my son Elijah was diagnosed with dysgraphia, dyslexia, and unilateral deafness in addition to his moderate speech impediment. At the age of 9 Elijah was also still unable to read beyond a first grade level. I made it my absolute goal to not only teach Elijah to read well, but to excel academically. It was hard work but my efforts were justified when Elijah scored a 33/36 on the reading section of his ACT exam and an invitation only scholarship to The University of Utah.


Currently I am in my fourth year of teaching in the public school system. I have a M.Ed with a Reading endorsement. I will complete the course work for my Gifted & Talented Endorsement, ESL Endorsement, and Administrative Certificate later this school year. 


A a black educator I value the opportunity to teach an audience of black students the curriculum made available by Rise Virtual Academy. I am excited to go on this educational journey with you all and  look forward to building with you all. 




Nicole Herrera