About Us

The nationally recognized Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) provides a creative, challenging, and nurturing environment that offers bright and talented students unparalleled preparation for higher education and a profession in the arts.

Founded in 1987, OCSA currently serves a diverse student body of approximately 2,300 gifted students in grades 7-12 from more than 100 cities throughout California. In addition to a college-preparatory academic program, OCSA offers pre-professional arts training in a variety of conservatories within the Schools of Applied Arts, Dance, Fine & Media Arts, Music, and Theatre. This innovative public charter school embraces and encourages artistic creativity and academic excellence, producing lifelong learners who matriculate to top tier colleges, universities, and conservatory programs. OCSA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

As a public charter school, OCSA is donation dependent, but no student is offered or denied admission based on financial capacity. Through a public-private partnership, the State of California provides funding for the academic instructional program offered at OCSA; however, the school must privately raise approximately $10 million to fund the arts conservatory programs each year. OCSA relies heavily on its families and the community-at-large to reach this goal.

MISSION STATEMENT

We provide an unparalleled arts and academic education in a creative, challenging, and nurturing environment to a diverse student body passionate about the arts, preparing them to reach their highest potential.

Core Values

Core Values

  • Student growth and education comes first.
  • Commitment to excellence, innovation, professionalism, and integrity.
  • Commitment to fostering a nurturing environment of creativity, respect, and collaboration.
  • Commitment to life-long artistic and scholarly development.

Awards

OCSA has received honors and recognition for innovation and excellence in both arts and academic education. Since its origin in 1987, the charter school has been recognized as:

  • Arts Schools Network (ASN) Exemplary School 2017-2022
  • California Exemplary Arts Education Award by the California Department of Education
  • No. 1 best charter high school in California by Niche rankings (since 2020)
  • Exceptional Charter School in Special Education (National Association of Special Education Teachers, 2017-2021)
  • Charter School of Excellence in Special Education (El Dorado Charter SELPA, 2020)
  • Recognized American School Counselor Association (RAMP) Model Program for college preparation
  • A model arts education program by the Kennedy Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the U.S. Department of Education
  • GRAMMY Signature School (2016)
  • A National Blue Ribbon School
  • A California Distinguished School three times
  • One of the top 10 charter schools in California by the University of Southern California (USC)
  • One of the top high schools in America by Newsweek magazine
  • Best High Schools in America (U.S. News & World Report, 2008-2019)
Awards

Admissions Overview

After becoming familiar with the various conservatories and the skills characteristic of those conservatories at one of OCSA’s Preview Days, prospective students are invited to fill out an application and participate in the conservatory workshop/review process to help them decide which conservatory is the best fit for them. Applicants will then select their desired conservatory for enrollment. Should the number of applicants exceed space available, a lottery is conducted by conservatory to determine which students are admitted. OCSA admits all applicants on a space-available basis.

Leadership

Teren Shaffer

Teren Shaffer

President & CEO

teren.shaffer@ocsarts.net

Mr. Teren Shaffer is a highly lauded arts manager, music educator, and conductor, winning prestigious awards such as The Kennedy Center’s Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award, the Arts Schools Network Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton Emerging Leader Award, Stanford University's Exceptional Teaching Award, and Orange County Department of Education’s Outstanding Arts Educator.

Prior to his appointment as president & CEO, he served as executive vice president of the Orange County School of the Arts Foundation for four years, overseeing a team of development, marketing, public relations, special events, and graphic design personnel. Mr. Shaffer is also involved in strategic management of OCSA’s arts conservatory programs, CSArts Academy extracurricular classes, and special projects. Launched in OCSA’s 30th Anniversary Season, Mr. Shaffer assists in facilitating a Master Artist Series of collaborative performances, master classes, and residencies with internationally acclaimed artists, such as: Wynton Marsalis, Deborah Voigt, Joshua Bell, Lythgoe Family Productions, Ali Stroker, and Matthew Morrison.

Prior to his appointment as Executive Vice President, Mr. Shaffer served as OCSA’s Dean of Arts and Music Director of the internationally acclaimed Frederick Fennell Wind Ensemble. He led the ensemble to become a finalist in The American Prize for Wind Ensemble Performance and to present a concert at the Music for All National Concert Band Festival. In 2014, the ensemble was the first band from Southern California to perform at the Midwest Clinic. This is the largest annual music conference of its kind, hosting nearly 20,000 educators and performers from more than 30 countries.

Mr. Shaffer serves on the national board of directors for Arts Schools Network, and he held the role of General Manager for the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra for 10 years. Mr. Shaffer earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and bachelor’s degrees in instrumental conducting, bassoon performance, and music education from Chapman University’s Conservatory of Music.

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Steve Wagner

Steve Wagner

Chief Operating Officer

steven.wagner@ocsarts.net

Mr. Steve Wagner joined Orange County School of the Arts in 2001 and currently serves as Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Business. Bringing more than 30 years of experience in education to Orange County School of the Arts, Mr. Wagner is responsible for the management and supervision of the school’s award-winning academic and arts instructional programs. Additionally, Mr. Wagner oversees the school’s non-instructional support services including facility, food, technology, finance, and budget.

 

In 2018, the national Arts Schools Network recognized Mr. Wagner's contributions by honoring him with the Superintendent Award, which pays tribute to an outstanding arts education administrator serving as the top leader of a local school system. Mr. Wagner has also been awarded the prestigious Non-Profit CFO of the Year award by the Orange County Business Journal for his work in support of arts education. He has also served as a teacher and administrator for schools throughout Orange County. Prior to joining Orange County School of the Arts, Mr. Wagner served as principal at Serrano Intermediate School in Saddleback Unified School District.

Mr. Wagner’s experience with Orange County School of the Arts began more than 30 years ago when he taught alongside Ralph Opacic, Ed.D. at Los Alamitos High School from 1987 to 1990. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach and a Master of Science in educational administration from California State University, Fullerton.

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Administrative Team

Michael Ciecek

Michael Ciecek

Principal

michael.ciecek@ocsarts.net

Mr. Michael Ciecek serves as Dean of Facilities and Supervision for Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). Mr. Ciecek has been involved in public education for more than 20 years as a teacher, activities director, and school administrator. After beginning his career at University High School in Irvine, Mr. Ciecek joined OCSA in 2000, where he taught 8th grade U.S. History, 11th grade U.S. History, and Advanced Placement United States History. 

From 2003 to 2013, Mr. Ciecek served in administrative capacities for OCSA, first as the Director of Student Activities, then as an assistant principal from 2006 to 2013, before departing to become an assistant principal at El Toro and Mission Viejo High Schools. As an assistant principal, Mr. Ciecek has overseen master scheduling, college advising, student intervention and support, behavior management, facilities, and emergency procedures. He has also assisted with WASC visits in 2004 and 2010 that resulted in full six-year clear accreditations, three California Distinguished School Awards in 2005, 2009, and 2013, and a National Blue Ribbon Award in 2006. Mr. Ciecek has worked as a guest lecturer in the University of California, Irvine Master of Arts in Teaching program, working with credential candidates on creating effective learning environments in the classroom. Mr. Ciecek also participates in the Orange County Department of Education’s Institute on Leadership Development Advisory Council.

Mr. Ciecek holds a bachelor’s degree in history and minor degrees in theatre and teacher education from the University of California, San Diego. He received his teaching credential from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Ciecek also possesses a master’s degree in educational administration from Pepperdine University.

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Becca Freeland

Becca Freeland

Assistant Principal of Student Services

becca.freeland@ocsarts.net

Ms. Becca Freeland joined the Orange County School of the Arts in 2002 and currently serves as Dean of Student Services. For her first five years at OCSA, she taught Literature and Composition for grades 7 and 8. She then took the position of Learning Specialist, where she became the state testing coordinator for the CAHSEE and STAR, and served as Student Intervention Support Coordinator, Technology Liaison, and Lead Mentor with the state BTSA Program for new teachers. She also served as the WASC coordinator for OCSA’s accreditation visit in fall 2010.

Ms. Freeland moved into an Interim Assistant Principal roll in the fall of 2013 overseeing Student Services. When OCSA moved to a blended leadership model in 2015, she became the Dean of Student Services, and she now works collaboratively with a group of deans to support the students and staff at OCSA.

Prior to joining OCSA, Ms. Freeland was a humanities teacher in the Paramount Unified School District for two years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications and a minor degree in business management from University of the Pacific. She completed her teaching credential at San Diego State University, her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and her administrative services credential through Orange County Department of Education’s Tier 1 credential program.

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Maria Lazarova

Maria Lazarova

Assistant Principal of Arts

maria.lazarova@ocsarts.net

Dr. Maria Lazarova serves as the Dean of Arts for Orange County School of the Arts and has been named an Outstanding Arts Educator by the Orange County Department of Education. In her role, she provides leadership and oversight of OCSA's 16 arts conservatories, offering support to the program directors and working alongside the dean team to best align the arts programs with the educational goals of the institution. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Lazarova served as OCSA’s Classical Voice Conservatory Director, where she led the production of a cross-conservatory concert titled "Awakening" featuring master artists at Chapman University's Musco Center for the Arts. Dr. Lazarova holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts and a Master of Music degree with a concentration in vocal performance, music education, stage directing, and jazz studies from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in opera performance from California State University, Long Beach.

In addition to her work in education, Dr. Lazarova has more than 20 years of performance experience as a soloist in opera, recitals, as well as chamber and choral works. She has performed as a soloist at numerous venues, including Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Barclay Theatre, Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Ahmanson Theatre, Soka Performing Arts Center, Musco Center for the Arts, and the Hollywood Bowl. Awards in competitions and scholarships include the Marilyn Horn Scholarship, International Liszt Competition, Long Beach Mozart Festival Vocal Competition, the Brentwood/Westwood Symphony Orchestra Competition, and the Young Musicians Foundation Solo Competition.

During her tenure as Director of the Classical Voice Conservatory, Dr. Lazarova was also a member of the Voice Faculty at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. As part of her continuing interest and pursuit of excellence in the field of education, Dr. Lazarova has been invited to lecture at the International Society of Music Educators World Conferences in Malaysia, Italy, China, Greece, Brazil, and most recently, Scotland.

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Kimberly Barraza Lyons, Ph.D.

Kimberly Barraza Lyons, Ph.D.

Assistant Principal of Instruction

kim.lyons@ocsarts.net

A Southern California native and the daughter of the first Latina superintendent in the state of California, Dr. Kimberly Barraza Lyons has spent the last 25 years dedicated to teaching and teacher education. She is a former graduate fellow of California’s Linguistic Minority Research Institute, is the recipient of an American Educational Research Association dissertation grant, and holds a B.A. in Spanish literature from UC Irvine and a Ph.D. in urban schooling from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. At UCLA, her research focused on urban teacher pre-service education and their retention in high-poverty schools.

She previously served as the Coordinator of Secondary Credentialing at UC Irvine and is currently an adjunct professor there, having taught courses in assessment, curriculum and research design, methodology, and multicultural education. Dr. Barraza Lyons has served as a regional consultant and mentor for new and veteran teachers, has presented at local and national conferences, and was recognized as a Teacher of the Year by the Orange County Language Teachers Association. A resident of Santa Ana for the past 15 years, she has served her community as a volunteer adult literacy instructor and longtime board member of the Orange County Educational Arts Academy (OCEAA). Committed to issues of equity and culturally responsive teaching, Dr. Barraza Lyons has taught Spanish at OCSA for the past 10 years and is the proud parent of two OCSA students.

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Abbe Levine

Abbe Levine

Assistant Principal of Special Services

abbe.levine@ocsarts.net

Ms. Abbe Levine has dedicated the past 17 years of her career to arts education, working in multiple roles both at OCSA and at CSArts-SGV. Ms. Levine began her career at OCSA, first as a teacher, then as the Director of the Creative Writing Conservatory. As an administrator, Ms. Levine has an incredibly unique blend of experience in both the arts and academics, having served as Director of Arts Enrichment, with a focus on expanding educational programs for the community, and as Executive Dean of Strategic Growth, with a focus on implementing new organizational and educational initiatives for both campuses.

 

Ms. Levine has also held multiple leadership roles at CSArts-SGV, including holding the honor of serving as the inaugural Dean of Arts on the team of administrators who opened the school in 2017. Most recently, Ms. Levine served as Assistant Principal at CSArts-SGV for the past two years, supporting new initiatives in restorative practices and equity, amongst other areas of oversight. An OCSA alumna, Ms. Levine is thrilled to be returning to OCSA, which has always been her home-away-from-home. She is passionate about transformational leadership and supporting educational environments that are creative and inclusive.

Ms. Levine is married with two children and is a lover of musical theatre, poetry, movies, and superheroes.

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Lauren Reynolds

Lauren Reynolds

Director of Special Services

lauren.reynolds@ocsarts.net

Ms. Lauren Reynolds has over 25 years of experience working in and adjacent to Special Education, specializing in strategic program development and intervention. Her extensive experience supporting students, teachers, staff, and administrators is rooted in the belief that “we should strive to gain a holistic understanding of our students (and the people who support them), not just responding to what we see, but investigating and ‘tuning in’ to what we can’t see, so that we can effectuate growth in academics, communication, adaptive behavior, social-emotional regulation and executive functioning.” Ms. Reynolds goal is to develop evidence-based programs through a collaborative team model that fosters strengths and individual differences.

Prior to coming to OCSA, Ms. Reynolds consulted with school districts, SELPAS, Regional Centers, and non-public entities all over the west coast and British Columbia to develop high quality programming for students. She also had a private practice supporting and preparing students to achieve post-secondary education and employment goals.

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Shelley Stanphill

Shelley Stanphill

Learning Specialist

shelley.stanphill@ocsarts.net

Ms. Shelley Stanphill joined the OCSA faculty in 2010, having previously earned a B.S. in physics from Harvey Mudd College and an M.A. in education from UC Berkeley. Since starting at OCSA, she has taught Physics and Chemistry, in addition to originating the school’s Psychology and AP Psychology programs. A senior fellow with the Knowles Teacher Initiative, Ms. Stanphill has been a pioneer of innovative educational techniques, such as project-based learning, flipped instruction, and mastery learning, and has led several professional development sessions on these strategies and more.

She previously served on a nationwide Engineering Task Force, developing resources to support engineering instruction in secondary schools, and supervised student teachers in UC Irvine’s teacher credentialing program. Ms. Stanphill is also a classically trained pianist and is passionate about ensuring that the OCSA experience is creative, challenging, and nurturing for students and staff.

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Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is OCSA's governing body that assumes the collective responsibility for building unity and creating a positive organizational culture. The Board of Trustees is responsible for adopting, evaluating, and updating policies consistent with the law, school vision, and school goals. Click the button below to access the annual meeting schedule, monthly meeting minutes, agendas, and the Board Governance Policy. 

 

OCSA Board of Trustees

  • Halim Dhanidina, Chair
    Appointed by OCSA Foundation
  • Vincent Foley, Secretary
    Appointed by the OCSA Foundation
  • Jessica Herthel
    Appointed by the OCSA Foundation
  • Gary Humphreys
    Appointed by SAUSD
  • Paul Satkin
    Appointed by SAUSD

FAQs

What is the admissions process?

Please visit the Admissions Overview page to learn more about our admissions process.

Is the school "accredited" like other public schools?

Yes, OCSA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which is recognized as one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States.

Is on/off campus housing available?

OCSA does not offer campus housing at this time.

My children are homeschooled. May they attend your school?

Yes. Homeschooled students follow the same application procedures as any other student.

My child needs to "make up" a class; do you offer a traditional "Summer School" as do most public schools?

No, OCSA does not offer summer school; however, to make up a class, students may attend summer school at any accredited high school or community college and have those credits apply toward OCSA graduation requirements. Also, students are free to attend their home school's summer school sessions as desired or needed. During the summer, OCSA offers a variety of fee-based, non-accredited summer classes. Summer classes are open to the general public for students ages 8 through 15.

What are the school's hours?

Monday - Thursday:
8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. 


Friday and No Conservatory Days:
9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Are there any tuition requirements?

OCSA is a donation-dependent public charter school, but no student is offered or denied admission based upon financial capacity. While the academic program at OCSA is funded publicly by the State of California, the arts program is funded entirely by donations. Each school year, OCSA must privately raise approximately $10 million to fund the arts conservatory programs, and the school relies heavily on its families and the community-at-large to reach this goal. Families are asked to make an annual tax-deductible donation, ranging from approximately $5,500-$6,500 depending on the conservatory and grade level, to directly support their child’s conservatory budget, including salaries for the conservatory director and teachers, facilities, equipment and supplies, performance opportunities, guest artist master teachers, and field trips.

Do we have to live in the Santa Ana area?

No, residency in the city of Santa Ana is not a requirement of attendance or admittance. OCSA currently serves students from more than 125 cities throughout California. Bus, train, and carpool transportation options are available to assist with your commute.

May I attend part-time/after-school only?

OCSA is a full-time school offering dual arts and academic programs. Students must participate in both programs. For part-time enrichment learning opportunities, please visit the CSArts Academy page.

Are you a year-round school? What about school holidays?

OCSA follows a traditional two-semester school year, which is August through January, and January through June. The school also honors traditional school holidays, including a one-week Spring break and a two-week Winter break.