St. John Paul II STEM Academy is a new Catholic high school, located in the heart of Burbank. Guided by a vision to provide the best of Catholic education with cutting edge technology and teaching practices, our mission is to form forward-thinking innovators, ready for the real world and committed to serving the common good.

Founding Team


Founding Director
BSFS Georgetown University | MA, JD UCLA

Dr. Jeff Hilger is a graduate of Loyola High School (Los Angeles), Georgetown University and the UCLA Schools of Law and Urban Planning. He was a member of the Teach For America 1992 Corps in Los Angeles and, after teaching for five years and practicing law for five years, became the founding Principal Teacher of Stella Middle Charter Academy and eventually the Chief Executive Officer of Bright Star Schools.

He went on to co-found New Opportunities Organization, which serves adult students (both incarcerated and community-based) at sites throughout Los Angeles. He is also a bilingual (English/Spanish) attorney with multiple areas of practice – including real estate, school law, nonprofit law, estate planning, and general transactional law – as well as a School Systems and Start-Up Specialist who has been responsible for opening 4 charter schools.


Dean of Academic Excellence
BS Notre Dame University

Bridget Higgins is an educator specializing in transformational STEM education, focusing on both the academic and character development potential of STEM learning models. Having received her BS from Notre Dame, she taught interdisciplinary science and math for several years at Montrose School, in Medfield, Massachusetts.

She left the front end of the classroom to attend a two year laureate program at the Università di Santa Croce in Rome, specializing in integral human formation. She moved from Rome to Los Angeles to take the director position at Westfield Residence, a leadership center for college women, before taking on the adventure at St. John Paul II STEM Academy.

Roger Ranney

Assistant Principal/Director of Admissions
BS University of Central Florida

Roger spent his formative years in Indiana. He attended the University of Central Florida where he also played football for the Knights. Roger graduated with a bachelors degree in social science education.

Prior to joining St. John Paul II STEM Academy at Bellarmine-Jefferson, Roger was the Director of Marketing & Admissions at Santa Clara High School in Oxnard, CA. Roger was also an assistant varsity football and basketball coach.

Roger and his wife, Laura, have been married for fifteen years. Laura currently teaches fifth grade at St. Finbar in Burbank, CA. They have two wonderful children.

Arcelia Clementson

Director of Finance and Operations


Interested in joining us?  Learn more about the role of the advisory council.

Leslie DeLeonardisADLA STEM Network Specialist
Memo GutierrezDon Bosco Technical Institute
Tessa MichaelsConsulting CTO Michaels and Co, Formerly CTO UC Berkeley
Tom VasellaDean of Academic Affairs, Pierce College
Ana HerruzoChair of Applied Science Department, Woodbury College
Colin BradyHead of Animation and Story for Light Chaser Animation studios
Robin MillerProfessional artist

Our History

St. John Paul II STEM Academy was created through the initiative of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to continue to offer the best possible options for Catholic schooling in the community of Burbank. It was designed through the response of families and community members as an innovative model that both serves and takes advantage of the great resources available in the area. St. John Paul II STEM Academy is housed in the renovated former campus of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School.

After serving the community for 75 years, Bell-Jeff closed its doors in spring of 2018. We appreciate its service in the formation of so many generations, and are committed to preserving the memory of its many contributions. We proudly maintain the rich historic elements of the building and campus, and are happy to welcome alums to come and visit the alumni room, housed next to St. Eleanor Hall.