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The Academic and Instructions Department Helping Fulfill the Academic Programs and Goals of Maranatha

Come meet the Academic and Instructions Department that assist in the students’ academic, service, and leadership roles.
In this series, we have been introducing each of our hardworking and dedicated faculty and staff departments. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the talented people God has brought to our school, and to give readers a little insight into each department, its members, and the calling the Lord has placed on their lives. We hope these features give you an even greater appreciation for our staff and the ways they enrich our students’ lives and help make Maranatha High School a Christ-centered and welcoming community.


John Rouse (Principal)

It all started 34 years ago. John said, “A Maranatha student was living across the street from me and my wife Kay. He asked me to come and coach track at Maranatha. I then inquired about the job and the rest is history. That former Maranatha student is now a member of the Board of Trustees for MHS, Dr. Ben Shin.”

As Principal, John enjoys being able to interact with the students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni of Maranatha. “Being able to impact young lives for Christ and to share our journey at Maranatha is what I enjoy the most. My goals and mission for Maranatha are to be intentional in the spiritual formation of our students and to provide a classroom experience that is interactive, innovative, and inspirational.”

Quirky Fact: “I love to sing songs to God in the shower in the mornings. However, my family has requested that I not sing in the shower unless it is after they are awake.”

Rocio Watkins (Dean of Academics)

As Academic Dean for two years, Dr. Rocio Watkins has three goals for Maranatha High School. The first goal is to lead the students to Jesus every day, so they can live like He did and see the world through His loving eyes. The second goal is to increase students’ performances, not only in academics, but also in service and leadership. Finally, Dr. Watkins’ third goal is to make Maranatha the school where each student feels cared for, supported, and empowered to pursue his or her own strengths. Dr. Watkins’ said, “As Academic Dean, what I love the most is working with each of our teachers. I am committed to providing excellent teacher training and professional development, as well as a robust curriculum that prepares the students for life after high school. Our teachers truly care about our students and families and work hard each day to grow in their practice. I love that Maranatha has such a strong commitment to education and service.”

Quirky Fact: “I am a Tae Kwon Do orange belt, and I’ve snapped a board with a roundhouse kick.”

Michael Mancini (Dean of Students)

As one of Maranatha’s Dean of Students, Mike, who is currently in his second year at MHS, enjoys having the opportunity to interact with the students on a personal level. “There is more of a chance to get to know the students and what drives them. God has blessed us with this awesome opportunity, and I am inspired that we have a chance to nurture the next generation of leaders,” said Mike, whose goals for our Maranatha students are to first have them embrace the blessings they have at MHS, and second, to see each student seek after the desires of their hearts as they come to understand how wide, deep, and long the love of Jesus is for them. “This time that the students have at Maranatha is an incredible gift from God who loves them.”

Quirky Fact: “I love turtles. I have had so many in my life. Right now I have eight tortoises. My wife thinks I’m crazy."

Tamara Kuku ’00 (Dean of Students)

“Our goals are for our students to learn to value each other, to celebrate each other’s successes, to grow in their pursuit of things in God through service of each other and in their greater community around them. We also want our students to grow in their integrity and character so that they’re less dependent on rules and regulations to help make the right choice,” said Tammy, who has been working at Maranatha for five years. “I have always been at Maranatha. I was born and raised in Pasadena, and I’m a graduate of the Class of 2000 at MHS. Maranatha has always been a part of the community, and I think it has been a part of my life journey to be at Maranatha.

Tammy believes there is a rich sense of community and teamwork in the department she works for and in Maranatha as a whole. “Being able to gather in the mornings to pray together, develop the goals of our mission, and redirect our students as we walk alongside them during their successes and failures and then restoring them through that is what I enjoy the most.”

Quirky Fact: “I like to create rap music to help me memorize speeches or presentations. I listen to the music and apply it to the melody. I rap and sing things to our kids that are reminders, like rules and regulations."

Daniel Baker (Learning Assistance Program Director/Oliver Honors Institute Director)

This is Daniel’s fourth year at Maranatha High School, and what brought him here, he believes, was from God’s ordination. Daniel said, “I was hired the day before school started and was sitting in an Air Force recruitment office just a few days before. I am fulfilling my calling each and every day.”

Daniel loves that Maranatha is a place that celebrates students as ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ while challenging them to employ their talents to build God’s Kingdom amidst the rubble of the world’s brokenness. “Specifically in my Academics and Instructions Department, my leaders and colleagues are some of the hardest working, most authentic followers of Christ that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. They pour their hearts and time into making Maranatha the city of Pasadena’s school of choice and an ever-burning beacon of God’s love for decades to come.”

As the Director of the Learning Assistance Program and the Oliver Honors Institute, Daniel’s deepest desire is for his students to know that the hard work and extra time they are putting in to figure out their best support system for their particular learning difference is tangibly contributing to their future success. “Like my own ADHD, our learning differences describe how we might learn best, they do not define us or prohibit us from achieving our goals.” Daniel goes on to say, “My Oliver Honors students impress me every day with their depth of thought and ability to unearth profound truths amidst an age that constantly bombards them with shallow distractions. My goal for my Oliver Honors students is to hope that they catch a passionate love for Jesus and the Bible while developing a ‘college proof’ faith, so that when introduced to competing worldviews, they will confidently rest in the love and truth of Christ.”

Quirky Fact: “I’m half Korean and half Scottish. I also speak Korean fluently. There was once a Starburst commercial called ‘Starburst Contradictions’ featuring a Scottish-Korean. I am the contradiction."

Dianne Miller (Instructional Technology Specialist)

Dianne first came to Maranatha three years ago when she was told about the position of Instructional Technology Specialist by the former IT director after the position at her former school was cut due to budget cuts. “This was a tough decision for me because it meant that I had to move to the area. I am from San Diego. I resisted, but God kept putting it on my heart to just go and interview. When I was offered the position, I was nervous but super excited about the new opportunity, and a fresh start in a new area. I have never looked back and truly love working with the students, staff, and teachers who truly have a heart for our students to learn at Maranatha,” said Dianne, who most of all enjoys working in a Christian atmosphere and being able to show the teachers how they can use the technology in their classes and make their life simpler while integrating new ideas.

Quirky Fact: “I am a polka dot fanatic.”

Sonya Witherspoon (Executive Assistant to the Principal)

Sonya has been working as the Executive Assistant to Principal John Rouse since May 2017, and what she enjoys most about working at Maranatha is the amazing faculty and staff. “The bar is set high here at MHS and the people pour their lives into not only what they do, but how they do it,” said Sonya, who feels she was brought to Maranatha through God’s timing and direction for her and her family. “My husband and I love cross-cultural work and have been involved in full-time missions for over 20 years. But working at Maranatha provides an opportunity for our kids to attend here.

Quirky Fact“I grew up in Nebraska and I am a die-hard Cornhusker football and volleyball fan.”