Meet the Wakefield Counseling Staff

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Lynette McCracken
Director of Counseling Services

Lynette McCracken studied Psychology and Religion at The College of William and Mary before going on to earn her MSW at The Catholic University of America. For the first half of her career, she worked as an LCSW in the substance abuse intervention and treatment field.  After taking time off to be with her children, Lynette earned a post-master’s degree in School Counseling from George Mason University.

She spent 15 years as a counselor at Yorktown High School before coming to Wakefield in 2015. A life-long Arlingtonian, Lynette spends her free time reading, knitting and taking care of her two dogs.

“The last of human freedoms—the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.” — Viktor E. Frankl

Analia Almada

Analia Almada earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to the United States. Analia went on to obtain a Post Master’s Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Virginia Tech, and later her School Counseling Certification from George Mason University.  Analia has worked at the Language Registration Center, the Arlington Career Center, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, and Kenmore Middle School, before coming over to Wakefield in 2010.  Analia enjoys working with students from different backgrounds and heritages and learning about their personal experiences.

“Study hard, and keep studying! No matter what obstacles you face, they can be overcome – Education is the most important possession you can have.”

Kelly Carruthers
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Kelly Carruthers studied Secondary Education: Spanish and minored in International Studies at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. She continued her studies at California State University, Los Angeles for a Master’s of Science in School Counseling, Option: School Counseling and Principalship.  She earned her National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in School Counseling in December 2018. Prior to joining Wakefield High School’s Counseling Department in 2001, she taught Spanish for three years and was a school counselor for three years at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, CA. Away from Wakefield, Kelly assists in managing an agricultural business.  She is the proud owner of two Belgian Sheepdogs who compete in conformation.

 “You must have a balance between academic rigor and other areas in your personal life. Too much of one thing distorts your perspectives.”  — As told to me by one of my mentors.

Luis Contreras

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Luis Contreras received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from George Mason University. He studied Global Affairs and Business as an undergraduate before returning to Mason to earn his Masters in Counseling and Development. Luis comes to the Wakefield staff with a variety of previous counseling experience, which include serving as a residential counselor in both juvenile detention and psychiatric facilities and as a behavior support specialist at a elementary charter school in Washington D.C. Luis has been certified by the National Board of Counseling as a Qualified Mental Health Professional specializing in working with children and adolescents and is excited to be a part of the Wakefield Warrior community!


“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Veronica Covarrubias

Veronica Covarrubias earned her BA in Government and International Politics and her M.Ed in Counseling and Development at George Mason University (GMU). Veronica has worked at Wakefield since 2006, prior to Wakefield she was the Assistant Director at GMU/Early Identification Program. Veronica is also a proud graduate of Arlington Public Schools. Outside of Wakefield, Veronica has served on the Executive Board of Latinas Leading Tomorrow for the past few years and was a member of their advisory board.

“Believe you can and you’re half way there.”     Theodore Roosevelt

John Clisham
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John Clisham earned his BA in Political Science at Penn State University. He also received his MA.Ed in School Counseling and an Honorary Degree from George Washington University. John has been working at Wakefield since 1990, first working as a substitute counselor and then taking on a full-time position. Before beginning at Wakefield John was elected Delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention representing former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

In the 10th grade Sister Joan Daniel, my Religion teacher, said to me: “John don’t let anyone tell you what to think or who to be, be yourself.”

Alex MercadoAlex M R


Alex Mercado studied Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University before earning his Masters in Counseling and Development from George Mason University. Prior to joining Wakefield Counseling, Alex worked as an Instructional Assistant at Yorktown High School. During his free time, Alex enjoys travelling and visiting new places with his wife.


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ivan Lopez


Ivan Lopez earned both his BS in Criminal Justice and Master’s in Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ivan is a proud graduate of Wakefield High School (Class of 2006) and also interned as a counselor at Wakefield. Prior to joining the Wakefield Counseling Staff, Ivan was a counselor at Yorktown High School for three years and also served as a substitute counselor at McKinley Elementary School. In his free time, Ivan enjoys working out, kickboxing, being with friends/family, and traveling.

Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this earth to be. Find that truth, be that truth and everything else will come.” –Ellen DeGeneres

Renita Mathis

Renita Mathis earned her BS in Communications from East Carolina University and her MA in Public Administration from Troy University. After working as Wakefield’s Testing Coordinator for 12 years, Renita decided it was time for a change and received her Masters in Education and Human Development in School Counseling from George Washington University in May 2015 and started as a counselor that Fall. She is super excited to be part of the Wakefield counseling team.

“Do your best now to prevent regrets later.”

Alfred Reid
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After earning his BS at Hampton University and his MA at George Washington University, Alfred Reid worked at Thomas Jefferson middle school. After eight years at TJ, Alfred joined the Wakefield team and has been a part of the counseling staff since 2000. Despite his lively personality, Alfred tends to be more conservative when it comes to dealing with other people’s children.

“Hope is not a strategy.”

Allison Menchel


Allie Menchel studied Psychology at Dickinson College and later earned her Master’s in Counseling at Marymount University. Prior to earning her graduate degree, Allie worked at the Kennedy Krieger School in Rockvillle, MD and then worked at Washington-Lee High School for three years as an Instructional Assistant in the Asperger’s Program. Allie interned and subbed as a school counselor at Wakefield the year before she joined the Wakefield Counseling Staff in 2016. Outside of the school day, you can find Allie leading the Yoga Warriors Club at Wakefield. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga, being active outdoors, and spending time with her friends and family.

“If you never try you’ll never know.”

Joe Spencer

Mr. Spencer earned his Master’s degree in School Counseling from The George Washington University and has been a counselor at Wakefield since 2004.


“Nothing ever goes perfectly, it just goes.” — Lynn Moran

Alvin Truesdale

Alvin Truesdale received his MA in School Counseling and Human Development from George Washington University. He has been working in APS for the last eight years. Alvin is also a fan of roller coasters.

“Learn from those who came before us and start a new path for those who will come after us.”

Student Services Staff

Timothy Cotman
Equity & Excellence

Timothy Cotman earned his BA in English and his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at George Mason University.  Prior to coming to Wakefield, he served as Minority Achievement Coordinator at Thomas Jefferson Middle School for over 20 years.  Outside of work, he enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

Charlene Giles              

School Social Worker

Charlene Giles earned her BS in Special Education from Virginia State University and her MSW at Howard University.  She has worked as the School Social worker at Wakefield since 2005.  Charlene recently earned her M.Ed. in Education Leadership from George Mason University.  In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her family.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou

Leigh Serroka                  

School Social Worker


Leigh Serroka earned her BS in Human Development at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and continued her education at George Mason University where she received her MSW. Leigh worked as a social work intern and a substitute teacher in Fairfax County before coming to Wakefield. In her free time, you can spot Leigh running in Arlington and spending time with family and friends.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

Barbara Holtz
School Psychologist

Barbara Holtz earned her BA in Special Education from Boston College and her Ph.D in Clinical Psychology from George Mason University. Barbara works as the School Psychologist and has been working in Arlington Public Schools since 1993. On her off days, Barbara works in her garden, always covered head to toe in mosquito netting to ward off insect attacks.

“Trust your gut.”

Greg Myers

Greg Myers earned his MA in School Psychology from George Mason University after earning his BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia.  Greg has been loving Wakefield since starting here in 2016. Before coming to Wakefield, he spent 10 years working in Fairfax County as a school psychologist at all levels (elementary, middle, and high).  In his spare time, Greg loves traveling, rolling on the floor with his super cute kids, doing anything outdoors, and failing happily at golf.

“Work hard and be nice to people.”

 Martín Orjales

Communities in School Coordinator


Laurie Artman-McIntosh
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Laurie Artman-McIntosh earned B.As in Elementary Education and Psychology from Christopher Newport College and an M.Ed. in School Counseling from the College of William & Mary.  In over 20 years as an Educator Laurie has served as an Elementary Classroom Teacher, High School Counselor, Middle School Counselor and College and Career Readiness Coordinator.  She is excited by her continuing role as Testing Coordinator for Wakefield.  A few of Laurie’s favorite pastimes are traveling, cooking and spending time with family and friends, including her two feisty (but sweet) Chihuahuas.

“If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!” – Henry Ford

Shaheed Patterson
School Attendance Specialist
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After receiving his BA in Communications from Marymount University and his Masters in Social Work from Howard University, Shaheed started as a Social Work intern at Wakefield High School in 2007. The following year Shaheed attained the position of Attendance Specialist and has been working at Wakefield ever since. Although Shaheed was born and bred in New England, he is a Dallas Cowboys fan and roots for both the New York Knicks and the Boston Red Sox.

I would advise high school students to think of the questions: “How do I want to live when I’m an adult? What do I want to be when I’m an adult?”

Edgardo Santos
Substance Abuse Counselor

Edgardo Santos earned his ME.d in Health Education at the University of Arizona. He then went on to work as both a Health Therapist and Substance Abuse Counselor at St. Elizabeth Hospital before coming to work in Arlington Public Schools as a Substance Abuse Counselor in 1993.

“Experimentation is very risky; the first time can be the last time.”

Counseling Support

Michelle Hess

Administrative Assistant


Joining Wakefield from Oakridge Elementary School is Michelle Hess. Ms. Hess attended
the University ofCincinnati where she majored in English and also holds a degree in Fashion
Marketing from the ParsonsSchool of Design in NYC. Michelle is also the proud mom
of one-year old Hudson and in her spare time enjoys all things fashion, style, and whatever
show is best for binge watching.This school year, Michelle will be pursuing her Master’s degree in                              Developmental Psychology In addition, you can catch Michelle teaching spin class as an AFAA Certified
Cycling Instructor at a gym near you.
Maria Aguilar
RegistrarMaria P
 Maria Aguilar earned her bilingual secretary degree in El Salvador. Her first job in Virginia
was an interpreter in Fairfax Hospital, where she worked with children who were about to
have surgery.Since 1995 Maria has been a part of Arlington Public School. She has been at Wakefield
since 2001 and three of her children are Wakefield Warriors.  When Maria is not working
at Wakefield she is taking care of her children and grandchildren. In her free time,
she enjoys: reading and learning Latin. “Life is short, enjoy each day”


Administrative Assistant




Mary Thacker

Administrative Assistant

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Mary Thacker is a Wakefield alumnus and has been working at Wakefield for over 25 years.
Mary attended Northern Virginia Community College. Mary also has an adventurous side.
She was a part of the first all girls’ soccer league in Northern Virginia and has even snorkeled
with a five foot barracuda.“You never know what someone may be going through in their life.
Treat others as you’d like to be treated.”

JoAnn Weiss

Assistant Registrar

JoAnn earned her Bachelors of Science from George Washington University and in 2014
earned her Master of Education Counseling and Development from George Mason University.She has                                 been in Arlington Public Schools since 2007 and Wakefield since 2009, but prior to that served as vice president at an association management company.Over the years JoAnn has been an avid traveler                                                                  and has visited all 50 U.S. states!“Travel while you’re young. Don’t worry about the money, Just go! When you are older,
it’s not as easy to travel. People put off experiencing adventures, but there’s no guarantee
you’ll be able to do things later.”

Bilingual Family Liaisons

Eddy Guerrero



I was born in Quito, Ecuador and I am married to Yanira who was born in
El Salvador. I enjoy spending time with my beloved wife in volunteer work
on weekends in the community of Springfield where we live. Today, thanks to
APS I have the privilege and satisfaction of working in this amazing school
where the dedication and spirit of helping students and families is perceived.“The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter”  Anonymous

Martha Heredia

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Martha Heredia is one of the three Bilingual Family Resource Assistants in Wakefield High School. She earned her Bachelors in Visual Arts from the college Escuela Superior Para Maestros Simón Bolívar in La Paz, Bolivia.  After graduation, Mrs. Heredia worked in the high schools throughout La Paz as an Art & History Teacher for three years. Martha joined APS in 2007 working as a Bilingual Family Resource Assistant at Oakridge Elementary School.  Before joining the APS system, Mrs. Heredia worked in the FLES Program in Fairfax County as a Spanish teacher. Martha loves to be part of Wakefield community. She values and respects the opportunities that high schools in this country offer to the students. When she’s not spending time with her husband and children, she likes to plant herbs and uses them when she cooks.  She admires Mr. Jaime Escalante, a highly regarded and inspiring Bolivian educator, and tries to follow his example

Ganas =desire + determination + discipline and that’s all we need to learn!”As always, she wishes you …

“¡Tenga un bonito día!”  (have a beautiful day!)

Carlos Murillo


Carlos G. Murillo, was born in Arequipa, Peru in 1978.  At the age of three he moved to

Jalizco, Mexico,where he lived for eight years. 

At the age of eleven, his family decided to move to the United States. 

They have lived in Arlington, VA ever since.   He attended Patrick Henry Elementary,

Thomas Jefferson Middle School and is a 1997 graduate of Wakefield High School.

He was happy to return.   He always wanted to be an architect since he was very young.

His dad is an architect; He grew up learning to appreciate architecture,

buildings and how architecture influences our culture. In addition to Wakefield,

he has worked at McKinley Elementary School as a Bilingual Parent Liaison for the past

14 years. He has extensive experience working with the Latino community.

He also worked in the Extended Day Program for 17 years,

where he realized that he has a gift to work with children,

He loves working with and having a positive influence on the lives of children

and being a positive role model. This makes him feel good both spiritually and mentally.