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Torry Thompson

Executive Director

& Teacher/Advisor for 5th-8th Grades

Mr. "T" as Torry prefers to be called, has been with the Lab since we started in 2016.  He is assuming directorship of The Lab starting August 1st 2021 after serving 2 years as The Lab's Academic Director and 4 years as the instructor for the Lab's 4th-8th grade classes.   


Mr. T will continue to teach in the classroom in addition to his new role as ED.  A credentialed teacher and math expert who is known for his ability to inspire and engage his students, 


Mr. T was one of the first educators in LA County to introduce personalized, self-guided learning approaches into the classroom, including the Khan Academy.  His students continue to seek him out for advice and support years after finishing their classes at The Lab.  He was described by one of our parents as, "the teacher you always wish your child could have."   And we agree!

Father of four, we are delighted that Mr. T calls The Lab his educational home!


Diana Dearring

Teacher/Advisor for 2nd -4th

Ms. Diana Dearring, affectionately known as "Ms. D," is a remarkable educator and leader who has spent over four decades passionately contributing to the field of education. Her unwavering commitment to nurturing the individual needs of students, fostering academic confidence, and making learning an enjoyable experience has left an indelible mark on countless lives.

Ms.D’s journey into the world of education began with her own pursuit of knowledge. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Education, with a minor in Learning Disabilities, which laid the foundation for her lifelong dedication to helping others learn and grow. Her academic journey was marked by an insatiable curiosity and a desire to make a difference in the lives of students. Her primary focus as a Reading Specialist was to
help students unlock the power of literacy. She possessed a unique ability to tailor her teaching methods to meet the unique needs of each student, ensuring that they reached their full potential. Ms. D's influence extended beyond the classroom. Throughout her career, she assumed leadership roles in various educational settings, ranging from K-12 schools to colleges and even homeschool communities. Her leadership was characterized by a commitment to innovation,
inclusivity, and the pursuit of excellence. Ms. D's dedication to educational administration was further validated by her attainment of a Master's Degree in Education Administration.

In addition to her professional achievements, Ms. D is a loving mother to five grown children and a proud grandmother to 13 grandchildren. Her nurturing spirit extended beyond her immediate family, as she served as a foster care provider for an astonishing 29 years. Her selfless dedication to fostering children in need and later becoming a licensed adult foster care provider showcases her boundless capacity for compassion and care. Even in her retirement years, Ms. D's dedication to education and caregiving persists. She remains an active adult foster care provider, continuing to make a positive impact on the lives of those she cares for. Her legacy of love, education, and empowerment lives on through the countless students she has taught and the individuals she has supported throughout her remarkable life.

Ms. D's life is a testament to the transformative power of education and compassion. Her 40 years of teaching and leadership, coupled with her unwavering dedication to nurturing young minds and fostering positive relationships, have left an enduring legacy. Ms. D's story serves
as an inspiration to all, reminding us that a lifelong commitment to education and the well-being of others can truly make the world a better place.

Teacher/Advisor for Tk-1st

Cindy Castro started her teaching career in 2000. Her work in education spans from
teaching high school students and adult-learners working for Regional Occupational
Programs and private and post-secondary education. Prior to teaching, she worked in
physical therapy, and as a contractor for Pearson Education as a curriculum developer
for allied health programs for schools nationwide.
Her goal in education is to teach not only literacy and math skills but also life skills and
technology applications.
Cindy is a mom of three and a grandma of a 5-year-old.

Cindy Castro


Lucy Leon-Merriweather

Social Emotional Learning Coach

Seven years ago, in Compton, Ms. Lucy entered the homeschooling sphere and over time, discovered her genuine passion within the community. Embodying the phrase "Love is a Verb" that she coined to define her acts of love, she initiated a movement. This movement aims to spread the notion that love is not a solitary action but a daily practice reflected in our everyday treatment of others.

Ms. Lucy will serve as a guide for scholars in enhancing their social awareness. Through the impartation of everyday life lessons, she will remain a voice of reason, love, and compassion, just as she has in the past. Beyond their families, she will become a source of love for the scholars, demonstrating to the children that the people in the community love and respect them. Her role will contribute significantly to nurturing a community spirit at The Lab.


Bertha Leon

Administrative Support

Bertha Leon is the mother of a 20-year-old daughter who learned in non-traditional settings. 

Bertha is bi-lingual English-Spanish and loves engaging with and supporting parents in their educational journey with their children.

Fun, engaging and full of empathy, Bertha is committed to making educational options available to any family in Long Beach who wants it.

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