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GATE Clerk Typist
ext. 1450
Fax # 209.830.3275
Ramona Soto-Barajas
GATE Coordinator
Julianna Stocking
Director of Continuous
Improvement, State and Federal Programs
The district's process to qualify GATE teachers begins with the district's hiring process. Principals and the GATE coordinator select qualified candidates based on in-depth knowledge of subject matter and the ability to differentiate curriculum in a gifted environment. In addition, candidates make a commitment to attend workshops on differentiation and other topics in gifted education. The GATE program is administered through the TUSD Alternative Programs Department.
The Mailing Address for the TUSD GATE Department:
Tracy Unified School District
Attention: GATE Department
1875 W. Lowell Ave.
Tracy, CA 95376





SWP Website
 DeAnna Hazelbaker
2nd Grade
Hello, My name is DeAnna Hazelbaker. I have been teaching for 11 years, with a break in the middle to have the last of my 4 boys. Having four boys at home definitely prepares me for running around at school. I have always had a love of children and knew at a young age that teaching was in my future. I received my bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and went on to get my teaching credential from San Diego State. I promptly moved back to Tracy as I was born and raised here and went through the GATE program myself. I taught GATE at SWP prior to my time off and spent a few years teaching alternative education before returning this year to the GATE program. Teaching GATE provides wonderful flexibility for teachers as we can incorporate so much more into the required curriculum. I love to integrate poetry, art, and performances into the core standards. I also enjoy working with the students and seeing them grow as readers and writers. I am happy to be back at SWP and part of the wonderful GATE community.
Julie Gust
3rd Grade
Hi, my name is Julie Gust, I have been teaching GATE for 18 years. In high school, I was voted ‘Most Inspirational’ because of my rockin’ school spirit. I carry that positive energy along with a rich sense of humor into my lively classroom every day. One of my favorite things is creating challenging and intriguing units for her students. Another favorite is celebrating my students’ hard work and accomplishments. Very early on, I learned to juggle platters and time management as she waitressed my way through college at Chico State University. Though I began my professional life in marketing, my mother’s life-long career as an educator motivated me to work with children. Eventually, I could resist no longer, and I began my teaching career 22 years ago. Working with my best friend, Mrs. Coker, has added extra spice to my teaching journey. My Springer Spaniel, Bella, keeps me out of trouble by going for long walks, playing catch, and eating eggs on Sunday morning. I love the outdoors (especially the beach) and every year I take a trip to some far-flung destination with my mom. My greatest joy is spending time with my family and friends whether they are visiting, sipping a Café Latte, or taking off to San Francisco for a day’s adventure. No matter where I go, “It is a joy to walk into the classroom and teach every day.”
Sara Empie
4th Grade
Hello. I am Sara Empie, and I am a fourth grade GATE teacher at South West Park Elementary School. This is my first year at South West Park, and I am happy to be a part of the team. I was born and raised in California where I attended Chico State and Sac State. I received my Master’s degree from the University of Alabama, specializing in Special Education with an emphasis on Gifted Education. I was a GATE teacher for six years in Alabama before moving back home to California, where I have four more years of teaching experience. My GATE teaching experience consists of “cluster” teaching GATE students in a regular classroom setting, and a pull-out GATE program which focused on enrichment. As for my life outside of teaching, I live in Linden (out in the country) so I am able to have four dogs, two cats, and two chickens. My animal-loving nature assures that many more animals are to join the family! I devour books, and hope to translate that love for reading to my students by promoting Accelerated Reader this school year. My vision is to become a long-lasting member of South West Park and the Tracy community.
Jennifer Kassel
4/5th Grades
My name is Jennifer Kassel. I have been a teacher in the Tracy Unified School District for 10 years. I have been teaching 5th grade GATE for the last five years at South/West Park Elementary School. While at South/West Park, I have been able to learn and grow with my GATE students. We have a lot of fun experimenting in science, exploring mathematical concepts, performing plays about our social studies topics, and digging deeper into our reading skills. One of the things that I have been able to do the last five years is be a coach for our South/West Park Science Olympiad team. Through Science Olympiad I have been able to see the students gain tremendous knowledge in math, science, technology, and engineering skills. Working at South/West Park in the GATE program has been extremely rewarding, I have worked with great students, families, and colleagues.
5th Grade




MVMS Website  

Dawn Arbogast
6th and 7th Grade
My name is Dawn Arbogast and I currently teach 6th and 7th grade GATE at Monte Vista Middle School. I have been teaching at MVMS for 17 years and teaching GATE for 16 of those years. I grew up in Iowa and received my degree in Elementary Education for the University of Northern Iowa. I have also taught 5th and 6th grade for 9 years in Iowa before moving to California. First and foremost I love teaching middle school. I find the students fun and challenging. On top of that I get to teach GATE! These students are amazing and make my job great. They challenge me in ways that conventional teachers don’t get challenged. While I still need to figure out ways to help struggling students, I also get to figure out how to challenge those that are doing well. There is never a dull day in MVMS Room 18!
Carol Wyant
8th Grade
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Carol Wyant and I teach 8th grade GATE at Monte Vista Middle School.  My first experiences with the GATE program were when my own children attended GATE at South West Park. I was a stay at home mom in those days, so I bring a unique perspective to the GATE program. That is, I know as a mom what I wanted to see as product from my children as well as what I expected to see as a product of my children’s teachers. My love of the classroom urged me to reinvent myself.  Fifteen years ago, I did reinvent myself and went into teaching.  I have been teaching for thirteen years, and I have been teaching GATE for eight years. In addition to my Bachelor’s, my supplemental credential in English has provided me with the resources to really make learning fun and to play the learning game right along with my students. My personal belief is that we can never truly conquer a concept. We can always add one more piece to the puzzles, questions, and situations that we think we have mastered. And this is what I try to provide for my students. I truly love my job!



WMS Website

Cynthia Angell
6th Grade
What I Love About Teaching GATE…I have been gifted with the chance to teach gifted kids for going on 19 years now, and there are myriad reasons why I am ecstatic about educating students who are gifted. Obviously, teaching students who are enthusiastic and excited about learning is a joy, but more important in my opinion is the opportunity to engage gifted learners at levels appropriate to their cognitive, emotional and social abilities. I believe too often intelligent and gifted students in our schools lose out as many classes end up being taught to the “middle.” What a delight it is to educate students to diverge and experiment at higher levels of thinking in an atmosphere that fosters individuality. Bottom line, it is magic to watch intense, brilliant minds expand as they interact in a rigorous, positive environment geared towards their curiosity and intellectual abilities.
Barbara Adams
7th ​Grade
I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the district. This is my 5th year of teaching 7th grade GATE and I love it! Overall, this is my 20th year in the district, and once I started teaching GATE, I felt renewed and invigorated. Being able to have those higher-level conversations with students who care and work hard, and asking those in-depth questions and receiving amazing answers is so enlightening. I am fairly certain I am learning as much from them as they are from me. It is actually fun to plan CCSS lessons for them, because I know they are up for the challenge. Though 7th grade can be challenging, it is very rewarding, too.
Bryan Kauk​
8th Grade
Hello, my name is Bryan Kauk. I have been teaching at Williams Middle School for fifteen years. This is my fourth year teaching GATE, the previous eight years I taught AVID. I am a graduate of Stanislaus State where I majored in Social Science. I am passionate about government and politics, so I am extremely delighted and fortunate to teach it in the eighth grade. I enjoy teaching GATE students for numerous reasons. They enjoy learning and are easily motivated and care about their progress and future. They are extremely inquisitive which produces incredible discussions. They are all talented in numerous ways which allows me to witness their creativity and brilliance.