Together, Aseltine’s Executive Director Dr. Hayden Thomas and Program Director Kim Groulx have served Aseltine students and the San Diego community for 57 years. This adds a significant level of stability to the school that has contributed greatly to its longevity and its effectiveness in meeting the needs of the children.
In addition, 9 staff members have been at Aseltine for 20 or more years each. The continuity of staff speaks to Aseltine’s unparalleled commitment to Aseltine students and the “Aseltine experience.”
Key Staff Biographies
Hayden Thomas, Executive Director
Hayden Thomas started his career at Aseltine School in 1979. Initially serving as Program Director, Dr. Thomas then served as Chief Administrative Officer until 1987 when he was appointed Executive Director – he has had the privilege of serving in this capacity ever since. Dr. Thomas studied Sociology at San Diego State University. He received his doctorate from the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, specializing in the field of Sociology in Education.
Kim Groulx, Program Director
Kim Groulx arrived at the school in 1986. Ms. Groulx, who graduated from SDSU with a BA in Psychology, always remains “critically conscious of [her] actions and intent and how they affect the students” – one of the keys to her extraordinary ability to work effectively with our students – her consuming life passion. Ms. Groulx’s unique communication style allows her to guide, advise, and negotiate with students while making sure the student’s needs, desires, and life perspective are not only heard, but applied in every interaction and circumstance: “You have to consider yourself and the kids in your actions – no matter what you do.”
Byron Dawson, Conflict Resolution Coordinator
Byron Dawson started his career at Aseltine in 1987. Byron, who majored in Human Services at Penn State, has served students in a number of capacities and is tremendously successful working with Aseltine’s most challenging students. Mr. Dawson is often called “The Pied Piper” thanks to his incredible ability to develop a strong rapport with students. Mr. Dawson’s dedication to Aseltine students goes well beyond the classroom and traditional school day – current and former students often visit with Byron on the weekends and after school, stopping by his home, helping him tinker with an old car, or going to community events. Mr. Dawson encourages students to create their own path to success, but is always ready to offer them support when they need it, telling them: “If you want something you gotta fight for it and if you don’t know how to fight for yourself we’ll teach you.”
Carla Van Liew, Family/Student Services Co-Coordinator
Carla Van Liew, a native San Diegan who attended SDSU, has been making significant contributions to Aseltine School and its students since 1976, when she discovered a community of children who needed adults to believe in their ability to achieve – despite social and learning barriers. For more than 30 years, Ms. Van Liew has remained passionate, tenacious, and determined that every student entering Aseltine School’s doors will find the education and opportunities they need to experience and lead a vibrant and productive life.
Carla Hancock, Chief Administrative Officer
Carla Hancock arrived at Aseltine in 1999 from Athens, Georgia, where she attended the University of Georgia. She worked closely with the Board of Directors, Program Director, and Executive Director as well as the Development Coordinator and office staff to help ensure Aseltine provided students with the most effective services and programs to address their diverse needs. She moved to the East Coast in 2005 before returning to Aseltine in 2008 as the school’s Chief Administrative Officer. Ms. Hancock says she was drawn back to Aseltine by the strong sense of community the school creates for both students and staff – a quality she immediately loved, and which she strives to maintain every day in her interactions with students, staff, and community friends.