Seattle Urban Academy has a highly qualified staff with a strong commitment to build up and educate our youth.
- Eight staff members hold 13 graduate degrees (Master and Ph.D.) and certifications (teacher and principal).
- Our Principal and History Teacher have served SUA nearly 35 years, leading to program stability and a reputation that dedication and sustained relationships create long-term impact.
- We're committed to student-centered development.
- Our student-to-teacher classroom ratio is a low 9:1.
- Four staff members call South Seattle home.
Sharon Okamoto, Executive Director and Principal
Sharon is honored to be part of the SUA community. With a Master of Education (Seattle Pacific University) and history as educator and principal in large Christian schools in California and Washington, she joined SUA in 1997. Since 2003 she has brought visionary leadership to SUA as Executive Director and Principal. In 2014 Sharon received the Vision From the Mountaintop Award at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast and the Outstanding Alumnus award from Seattle Pacific University School of Education.
Sharon has served as private school representative on the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB). The PESB has responsibility and authority for policy and oversight of Washington's system of educator preparation, certification, continuing education and assignment, and works in conjunction with the state Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Ron Hirata, Office Coordinator
Ron joined SUA as Office Coordinator in February 2015. After graduating from Franklin High School, he went on to get a Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington. (He, his wife, and both their daughters and their son-in-law are all UW graduates.)
Most recently, Ron worked as a Senior Business Systems Analyst at The Seattle Times, where he was employed for over 30 years. Ron also completed courses at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
He and his wife live in Des Moines and attend Japanese Presbyterian Church, where SUA graduation ceremonies have been held for the past few years. Ron serves as an elder in his church and is active in the prayer ministry. He and his wife, Sharon, a teacher at Seattle Christian Schools in SeaTac, both grew up in South Seattle.
Lisa Edwards, Office Assistant
Lisa is thrilled to again be part of the SUA family, having served as Office Coordinator from 2006-2008. She is a graduate of Tahoma High School in Covington, and holds an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in Business and Accounting from Highline College. She has been employed exclusively in the non-profit sector since 2006.
Lisa has lived in South King County since moving here from Southern California in 1978. She currently lives in Renton and is a member of New Life Church, where she serves as First Impressions Coordinator at Sunday services.
Lisa is passionate about demonstrating God’s love through serving and supporting others. She is excited and honored to be part of a team of like-minded Christ-followers who stand with and help guide our students on their educational and vocational journeys.
David McIntosh, Student Development Coordinator/Teacher
David originally taught computer skills from 1997-1999 at SUA and has now returned as the Student Development Coordinator. For nearly 20 years, David has served young adults in the Puget Sound region, teaching work readiness and life skills, housing, and personal management development.
Educated at Northwest University in Kirkland, David’s career has included work as Resident Manager at the Renton Friends of Youth housing program, Education Coordinator at the Union Gospel Mission Youth Reach Out Center, Residential Manager for the Seattle YMCA Young Adult Transition program, and Site Manager and Job Specialist for Seattle Goodwill Adult Basic Education Centers.
David's life mission has been to change the lives of Seattle's urban youth by engaging them in relationships, inspiring them to follow Jesus, equipping them to live a balanced life and empowering them to share in developing their communities through the knowledge of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. David began with SUA in the fall of 2012 and is excited to be serving with students and staff in the years to come.
Emmanuel Mancilla, Transition Coordinator/Teaching Staff
Emmanuel Mancilla is excited to be a part of the amazing community that exists at Seattle Urban Academy. Born and raised in Tacoma, he graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a major in Sociology and minor in Theological Reconciliation.
Emmanuel did a year of service with the Justice Leadership Program serving as the Social Justice Intern at The Church Council of Greater Seattle. He also served as an AmeriCorps member at Peace Community Center located in Tacoma’s Hilltop area.
Emmanuel is passionate about walking alongside our young people as they learn how to navigate our education system in hope that they become strong holistic leaders.
Sel Bariamichael, Biology, Chemistry, Science, Health
Sel joined the Seattle Urban Academy staff in 2014. She attended Seattle Pacific University, where she majored in biology and French and minored in chemistry. While there, Sel served as the Intercultural Director, coordinating diversity efforts within the greater SPU community.
Before coming to SUA, Sel worked as a high school science teacher in Philadelphia and Maryland school districts. As a former Teach for American corps member, the majority of her certification focused on developing skills and strategies to close the achievement gap within marginalized and unrepresented populations.
Sel is very excited to be a part of the SUA family and work with the amazing youth of SUA. She considers it a great blessing to take part in the growth and development of our students into the individuals that God has called them to be.
Dr. Michael Friedland, Ph.D., History
Michael has been at Seattle Urban Academy since 1999. He enjoys teaching at SUA because of the opportunity it gives him to develop relationships with students and to help them develop confidence in their own worth as students, young adults, and Christians. He received his Ph.D. in American history from Boston College and has been teaching since 1992. A published author, Michael worked in New Orleans developing workshops for high school teachers in the Mississippi Delta and taught at Nankai University in Tianjin, China as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in 1998-99.
Now living in the Seattle area, he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Highline Community College. His wife Julie is an administrator and teacher at Brooklake Christian School in Federal Way and has been recognized by the Principals' Association of Christian Schools as Teacher of the Year Award. They are the proud parents of Benjamin and Rachel.
Christalyn Grantier, Mathematics/American Sign Language
Christalyn began teaching at SUA in 2005. Born in Seattle, she grew up in Central Oregon and has been working with youth groups since she was in high school herself. She has been actively involved with the Rainier Avenue Church.
Christalyn earned a two-year degree from Central Oregon Community College and earned a B.A. in mathematics from Seattle Pacific University. Christalyn completed her teaching certification from their School of Education while gaining experience teaching in urban schools. Christalyn completed her Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle University, developing her skills as an educator to better serve the students at SUA. She is a member of the Washington State Mathematics Council and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
She sees education, specifically mathematics education, as an opportunity for justice. Her hope is graduates can use the math skills they master at SUA to support everyday decisions, assist with problem solving in the workplace, and provide a solid foundation for courses related to higher education certificates/degrees.
Christalyn enjoys helping students become successful socially and spiritually, as well as academically. She knows the value of developing positive relationships with students to help them achieve this success.
Christie Johnston, Language Arts/Art
Christie has a passion for empowering young people and is grateful for the chance to work with students at SUA. Christie graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2004 with a B.A. in English Literature and creative writing, and again in 2010 with a M.A. in teaching language arts and reading. In 2013 Christie added an endorsement in special education.
Christie has worked with a broad spectrum of learners in multiple schools and organizations in Seattle, Renton, and Kent communities.
Cynthia Bowerman, Algebra Teacher