New faces, new school year at Mount Carmel


Mount Carmel School is readying for the new school year and is welcoming back most of last year’s teachers and staff, as well as some new and not-so-new faces.

8th Grade English teacher

Frances Taimanao is no stranger to the school, having taught at the school and served as principal for many years, and even earning both Teacher of the Year and an Honorary AlumKnight status. Last year, Taimanao had to leave to address some medical issues in her family. While necessary, she missed the school. “Leaving the school was very difficult because it was like leaving my family.”

She has now decided to return to the classroom to teach 8th grade English. “My heart was always with the school, and I appreciate the school having me back.”

Taimanao is also excited to be back in the classroom. “Besides having my students become better readers and writers, my goal is to reach out to all my students and empower them by using growth mindset methods in my class. With this in place, anything is possible.

“I want them to feel important and that they matter in their own way.”

With Taimanao in the classroom, last year’s acting principal, Barbara Merfalen, is promoted to the principal position full-time.

Director of Institutional Development

Like Taimanao, Victoria Deleon Guerrero is no stranger to Mount Carmel School. A member of the Class of 2013, she was active in the school’s Theatre Club, Mock Trial program, and Student Council, and also won the Attorney General’s Cup. After graduating from Seattle University with a bachelor of arts in the Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies & Theatre, Deleon Guerrero served as the marketing coordinator for Northern Marianas College for the past two years.

Deleon Guerrero returns to her alma mater as its director of Development. While she admits that returning to the school as an employee is “very surreal,” she is also excited. “To be giving back as a young professional gives me a greater sense of pride and purpose.”

Looking ahead to the new school year, Deleon Guerrero said, “I am especially excited about being part of the team that will help rebuild the school’s gymnasium. Not only is it the site where the CNMI Constitution was signed but, as an AlumKnight, it has been the facility that has taken care of so many students and families.

“I’m very hopeful that our team will make this shared vision come to fruition.”

With Deleon Guerrero stepping in as the director of Institutional Development, John Blanco, who had previously served in that position and served as an acting business manager last year, will now serve as the school’s official business manager

Academic adviser

Mount Carmel School has long been known as a college preparatory school that helps her students gain admission into some of the world’s top institutions of higher education, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, Ateneo de Manila University, and Seoul National University. To build on that legacy, this year, the school welcomes Brittany Norris, who will serve as the academic adviser for high school students. Norris earned a bachelor of arts degree in Communication from UC Santa Barbara and a master of arts degree in Education from San Diego State University. Norris has extensive experience in K-12 and higher education, with particular expertise in supporting students transition into college.

Norris is eager to use her experience and expertise to help students prepare for college. “I am hoping to further enhance the college-going culture that already exists at the school. I want to make sure that anyone who wants to go to college does so and, ultimately, that students feel ready to succeed once they’re there.”

While new to the school and the island, Norris said, “I am most excited to meet the students and their families in order to familiarize myself with the culture here.”

As the academic adviser, Norris will teach the school’s Knights Seminar course for seniors, which helps students apply for colleges and prepares them for life after high school with curriculum strands in work-readiness, financial literacy, and soft skills. Norris will also work with other high school teachers to expand the Knights Seminar curriculum to all high school grade levels, as well as coaching individual students through the college admissions process.

High school math teacher

Like Norris, Jener Pineda comes to Mount Carmel School as a math teacher with an impressive track record in education. A graduate of Holy Angel University with a bachelor’s degree in Education, Pineda has taught in K-12 schools for over two decades and recently served as a school administrator. Pineda has also established a reputation as an inspiring and effective coach for various interscholastic academic competitions.

Pineda’s success as an educator is rooted in his deep commitment to students, which he looks forward to bringing to the school. “It is my desire to create a stimulating educational environment for my students.”

When asked about how he feels about joining the Mount Carmel School family, Pineda said, “I feel so blessed, proud, grateful and happy to be part of MCS family. …I know that I will be surrounded by collaborative, friendly, creative, passionate, happy and talented colleagues that want to help people learn.”

High school English teacher

A native of Rota, Randee-Jo Barcinas Manglona also comes to Mount Carmel School with a strong background in education. After earning a bachelor of arts in English from Portland State University, Manglona earned a master of Education from Concordia University. She has also served both as a teacher and as a journalist in the Portland area.

Aware of the impact that Super Typhoon Yutu continues to have on students and their families, Manglona hopes to help students keep moving forward. “I hope to better serve my community, make a difference in this world, and inspire and touch the lives of the younger generation and people around me.

The 2019-2020 school year will begin on Thursday, Aug. 8. Limited slots are still available for some grade levels. To learn more or to apply, visit or call 234-6184. (PR)

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