Elementary Fine Arts and Physical Education





Meet Our Teachers!

Elementary Art


As a young child, April James, lived in Japan. Her bedroom looked over a rice field, with Mount Fuji behind it. Her mother kept a notebook with drawings Ms. James began making at age three, of the images she experienced while living in Japan. She has always had interest in people and their culture, traveling and art. Ms. James has traveled all over the world, including Thailand, China, Israel, most of Europe and both North and South Africa, but she is not finished yet! She still plans to visit Iceland.


Ms. James doesn’t just paint and draw, she also buys houses and remodels them. She loves to take a worn home and make it look fantastic again. Ms. James has been buying and selling homes for 20 years.


Ms. James finds being creative has helped her invent ways to earn a living. The way she paid for college was by buying vintage clothing and mid-century furniture at thrift stores and reselling them to collectors. She has never had student debt. Yeah!!


She believed thinking creatively means more than the fine arts. It is the ability to problem solve and find solutions using a new pathway.


D.J. Mooneyham is an Elementary Art teacher with MVUSD. He earned a fine Arts degree with an emphasis in painting and drawing at the esteemed University of California, Santa Barbara. During his collegiate career, he studied drawing under the world renown Eric Beltz.


D.J. is a practicing artist who's work can be seen on display at events throughout the Inland Empire and Los Angeles. His work is published on his Instagram account @mooneyjam


After finishing his Bachelor's Degree, D.J. obtained a Masters degree in Education at the University of Redlands. He has been using his knowledge of Fine Arts and teaching to train the next generation of Moreno Valley artists. 


D.J. grew up in Moreno Valley and is a product of the MVUSD school system. His goal is to help grow Fine Arts in Moreno Valley, and help strengthen the MVUSD Fine Arts program. 

Photo of Ryan Taylor, Elementary Art Teacher                                          

Ryan Taylor is a bipedal man with a bristly beard. His zest for life and art is only overshadowed by his deep love for fried food and family. His four daughters continue to add various shades of gray to his beard. Getting into the classroom was natural to him as his parents were both school teachers. His father coached various sports, and taught science, and his mother taught English. How he ended up in Art? His love for comic books most likely. Outside of school he is a published author, as well as a comic book writer. He also insists that you know he is originally from Houston, Tx. 


Elementary General Music

Nicholas Kelly has an educational background that includes a BA in Music Education and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction. Mr. Kelly holds a clear professional credential with CLAD certification in Multiple Subjects and also a Single Subject authorization for Music K-6. He began his teaching career in LAUSD in 1993 and has worked for MVUSD since 1998. He worked as a multiple subject classroom teacher in third through sixth grades for over 21 years before moving into his current position as one of our districts elementary music teachers. Music is his passion and he hope to cultivate an interest in it for your student. As he let students know the first week of school, everyone can do well at music because everyone is born with a beat and thus music is inside all of us.


Cameron Tremayne Ruffin

Born in 1977, one could begin to wonder upon meeting Cameron whether he missed the time he was destined for. As a child he would often hear phrases like, "He's been here before" and "He's an old soul." His love for music was evident when at the age of 3 his mother states that he would play air guitar to the likes of George Benson and Earl Klugh records as his father curated a vinyl Playlist that ranged from Smooth Jazz to Soul and R & B.  After hearing the opening trumpet riff of the Rocky theme "Flying High Now", he knew that this could be his gateway instrument. So in 5th grade his journey began. By 7th his parents had no choice but to purchase an electric guitar and start lessons. Ask him his favorite artists and you may need to sit for a few hours as he will analyze the significance of Van Halen to his playing and the obsession with Joni Mitchell and Sly and the Family Stone. Truly a fan of the complete art, music in all forms, he is pleased to impart the passion he has for music to the students of Moreno Valley. No style is insignificant or off limits... Even Country.

Mrs. HanskatMrs. Hanskat is thrilled to be part of the MVUSD Elementary Music Team! She has spent her life surrounded by music from a young age, as her mother was a piano teacher. She can play most instruments but the instrument Mrs. Hanskat has mastered is voice. She earned her Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Opera, from California State University Long Beach and her Music Credential from Cal. Baptist University. Her philosophy as a music teacher is to encourage students to use music as their escape in life, instead of turning to something negative, sing a song! You may hear your child singing “Let it Go” or talking about their word for the year and decade goals. Students are working on writing a song together so all students can remember their goals over the next decade and focus this year on their word, each student will have their very own decade song which will remain with them throughout their life. Please encourage your child to share what they are learning in music class because by teaching others they are learning too! Mrs. Hanskat is always available if you have any questions or concerns and looks forward to meeting you. She truly cares about each one of her students and gets so excited when she sees them growing in their music studies!

Elementary Physical Education

Gina Ghiani was born and raised in Europe until life’s circumstances brought her to California. Growing up she loved a variety of activities, such as bicycling, swimming, aerobics, track and field, and especially gymnastics. For many years she lived at the German-French border and regularly visited family in Italy. This gave her the opportunity to enjoy the different cultures and rich history these countries have to offer.

After obtaining her nursing degree, she worked as a nurse in Germany and later in California until she decided to change directions and be pro-active regarding the health of individuals. Therefore, she found her “old-school-self” back in class earning her BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science and then her Masters in Education and Cross Cultural Teaching. She fondly remember those years.

For many moons now, she has been teaching Physical Education for the MVUSD, from High Schoolers to Elementary kids. Currently, she is teaching Elementary PE in the Visual and Performing Arts Program. her goal and passion is to teach students the importance of being physically active, and to hopefully enjoy themselves while trying their best regardless of the individual’s ability level.

Gina's philosophy: “A Sound Mind in A Sound Body” (Thales)

John Kush has been a teacher in the Moreno Valley Unified School District since the year 2000. His first 16 years were as a high school teacher at Valley View High School, where he taught health science and physical education. John also coached various sports at Valley View, such as, swimming, football, and soccer. John is currently in his third year of being an elementary physical education teacher with MVUSD, and loving working with the students.
John married in July 2013. In November 2014, his son, Dorian, was born. Recently in December of 2017, John earned his Master’s degree from Ohio University. John’s passion for teaching started when he started coaching high school soccer while going to college.
Gary Harkins
Our newest physical education teacher Mr. Gary Harkins, originally hails from Pittsburgh, Pa. After high school, Mr. Harkins entered the US Navy where he spent the next 20 years and finally retired in 2012. Upon retiring, Mr. Harkins decided to try something a bit different and entered the teaching profession. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in business management and a Master’s degree in education. Since exercise and fitness were always a primary personal focus, he has now managed to turn this hobby into a job.”