Administration & Staff

Faculty & Staff

Lee Thomsen
Head of School

B.A., Harvard University; M.A., Johns Hopkins University

Lee Thomsen began his tenure at Country Day as Head of School in July 2016. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and a master’s in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University. Over his 25-year career, Lee has worked as an administrator and teacher at independent schools in Utah, Texas, Georgia and Maryland.

Lee is married to Julie Checkoway, author of The Three-Year Swim Club. They have two daughters, Abigail and Sophia, and a mini schnauzer, Tashi.

Faculty & Staff

Maisae Affour
Head of Lower School

Maisae has 25 years’ experience as an administrator and teacher in U.S. and international Independent schools including Vision International School in Qatar, Ibn Khuldoon National School in Bahrain, American International School in Pakistan, St. Catherine of Siena School in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Caribbean School in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Maisae is an educator with a passion for early childhood and elementary education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and master’s degrees in Translation and Interpretation from the University of Aleppo and in Teaching from Marygrove College in Detroit.

Faculty & Staff

Sarah Ostermueller
Head of Middle School

Sarah Ostermueller comes to us after five years at the Fay School in Southborough, MA, where she served as the Head of Upper School (grades 7-9), overseeing a program of 270 students, including 150 boarding students. 

Sarah holds a BA in Biology and Women’s Studies from Colby College, an MA in Teaching from the College of New Jersey as well as a certificate in Advanced Graduate Study in school leadership from the University of New England. Prior to her time at Fay, Sarah has held various faculty and leadership roles at the Greens Farms Academy in CT, Northfield Mount Hermon School in MA, the Hun School of Princeton in NJ, and St. Mary’s School in NC. Throughout her career, she has taught mathematics and science as well as coached softball, lacrosse, and field hockey. In 2001 she was named Field Hockey Coach of the Year after coaching the team in back-to-back state championship wins! 

Sarah writes, “I am excited to join the Sacramento Country Day School community as the next Head of Middle School. When I visited campus, I was impressed by the expertise and dedication of the faculty and the curiosity and openness of the students. It is clear that Country Day is dedicated to its mission to inspire and engage students and that it is committed to honoring and celebrating its diverse community. I can’t wait to move to California this summer and start leading the amazing Middle School in the fall.”

Faculty & Staff

Brooke Wells
Head of High School
High School English

With more than 25 years of experience in education, Brooke Wells traveled around the country as an English teacher, History teacher, Dean, Coach, and College Counselor before being appointed as Country Day’s Head of High School in 2014. As a former Teach for America 1995 Corps member in Greenwood, MS, Brooke believes deeply in the power of compassionate, creative education that promotes deep student engagement, social justice, and understanding. 

Brooke and his wife, Amy, have two children, Sophia and Spencer, a golden doodle named Calliope, and share a love of the wild beauty found while hiking, skiing, and camping in the many gorgeous spaces in the California wilderness.

Faculty & Staff

Taratip (Tara) Adams
Middle & High School Learning Specialist

Taratip Adams serves as one of Country Day’s Learning Specialists for middle and high school. She works closely with students to help them reach their fullest potential, as well as partners with teachers and families to provide instructional strategies that work best for their learners. 

Prior to her big move to California in 2016, she worked in Illinois as a 5th grade teacher. She was a member of the IEP team and also partnered with local schools to bring in 1-to-1 technology for all middle school students. She was the head of the 5th grade science department, bringing more hands-on learning into the classroom. Before coming to Country Day in the spring of 2019, she served as a classroom teacher at Charles Armstrong School, a Bay Area school for students with learning differences. 

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University and will soon earn her Master’s in Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies. She also has endorsements in Middle School Education, Social Science, and Language Arts. 

Her mother is her biggest role model and is grateful to have experienced living in Thailand for seven years, where she learned to cook and live like the locals.

“Food is what brings people together and my mother always tells people that if you want to make someone happy, bring them some of my Pad Thai!” she says.

Tara’s current hobbies include cooking, rock climbing, or binge watching one of her favorite reality TV shows. 

Faculty & Staff

Valerie Adelsheim
Assistant to the Head of School

B.S., University of Minnesota

Faculty & Staff

Edward Bolman
Sixth Grade
Middle School Mathematics Department Chair
Middle School Dean of Students

Edward Bolman is a 6th grade teacher. He teaches 6th grade Math and History and is a 6th grade advisor. Additionally, he also serves as the Middle School Dean of Students and the Department Chair of the Middle School Math Department.

Edward has been teaching for more than twenty three years. Two of those years were spent in the People’s Republic of China teaching in the Chinese Public School system where he was also responsible for managing 20 expatriate teachers. He has been a teacher in the Country Day Middle School for more than 15 years.

He earned his A.A. at Sierra College and his B.A. from San Francisco State University. Edward also has earned SSAT, CSET, CBEST, and Praxis certifications from SFSU as part of their teacher training program.

Faculty & Staff

Courtney Doyle
Lower School Counselor

Courtney Doyle is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is excited to join the Lower School. Courtney has years of experience with both the private and public school systems providing counseling and mental health strategies. Courtney has received her B.A. from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and received her M.A. from the University of San Francisco for Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. Courtney has focused her career on K-12 education and how to include counseling techniques to help the student in their school life. Courtney loves to get out into nature with her family and you can usually find her swimming or hiking in Lake Tahoe.

Faculty & Staff

Rachelle Doyle
Director of Advancement

Rachelle Doyle has served as the Director of Advancement for Sacramento Country Day School since 2018. She provides leadership for all fundraising, alumni, and board of trustees relations. With her team, she oversees planning for the school’s fundraising efforts, including the annual Country Day Fund, capital campaign, endowment, alumni giving, grants, special projects, and planned giving. Rachelle works on providing strategic direction for all aspects of Country Day’s Advancement. 

Before coming to Country Day in 2018, Rachelle served as a Director of Development for Sacramento Waldorf School. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years in marketing and advertising. 

Rachelle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Media Communications from California State University, Sacramento, Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University, and a Fundraising and Development Certificate from U.C. Davis. 

Rachelle is dedicated to making a positive impact: at Country Day, in her home, in Sacramento, and in the world. She loves philanthropy and building relationships and brings passion to her work. 

Faculty & Staff

Ingrid Foster
Director of Marketing and Communications

Ingrid is a Sacramento native, earning her BA in Mass Communications at UC Berkeley and her MBA with an emphasis in Marketing and Strategic Management at UC Davis. Her career in the field of communications and brand management has crossed over many industries including government, pharmaceuticals, grocery, high-tech, wine, non-profit organizations, and the arts. Ingrid served on local arts boards including the Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento and Friends of SMAC, and she co-founded Art Jam, a benefit event for arts education. She co-owns a successful art business with husband, Marc Foster, an awarded local sculptor and functional artist, and is a devoted mother to her children, Harlan (12) and Graeme (9). 

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Janet Gross
Lower School Librarian

Janet Gross, a life-long learner, holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from UNC Greensboro, with a specialty in School Librarianship. A teacher since 1975, she has been a school librarian for fifteen years. She has also been an ESL teacher, an educational technologist, and a French teacher. A native Californian, she has lived on four continents and in several states. She is currently working on a murder mystery that takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. She has three children and five grandchildren, all beautiful and brilliant. She is very happy to join the faculty at Country Day.

Faculty & Staff

Ryan Hobbs
Middle School History
Middle School Dean of Student Life
Student Council Advisor

Ryan decided to become a teacher dedicated to engaging, hands-on, and discovery-based learning because as a middle school student he often felt bored and disengaged from school. He believes that students should have a voice in their education and that they should be allowed to discover and pursue the topics and inquiries that naturally interest them. Ryan has a B.A. in History from Bethany College and M.Ed. in Administration and Policy Study from the University of Pittsburgh.

Prior to joining Country Day, Ryan spent four years at Alta Vista School in San Francisco teaching 5th-8th grade history. Ryan also previously worked at a private boarding school in West Virginia where he taught 6th-grade history, coached middle school soccer and basketball, and was the Associate Head of the Boarding Department. When he is not teaching, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, traveling, trying new food, going to Kings games, and cheering for his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

Faculty & Staff

Joanne Melinson
Middle and High School Librarian
Library Chair
IDEA Co-Chair
High School Scholar Inclusion Co-Coordinator

Jo Melinson has been working in libraries for over 30 years. She started working at Country Day in 1994, and since 2007 has been the 6th – 12th grade librarian. She was the High School Literary Magazine Adviser from 2000-2021. 

The mission of the library is to foster lifelong learning, which the library team does through encouraging a love of reading as well as building a strong foundation for research. Jo collaborates often with teachers and students on research projects, trains students and faculty on the use of library resources, and has conducted Q & A sessions with guest speakers. 

She is very interested in inclusion, diversity, and equity and has served on the school’s IDEA committee since 2000 (as the founding chair from 2000-2007 and as one of the Co-chairs from 2020 to the present). She has been the High School Scholar Inclusion Co-Coordinator since 2019.

Jo is a member of the Association of Independent School Librarians (AISL) as well as Bay Area Independent School Librarians (BAISL), where she is on the High School eBook Committee. In October 2019, she was a panelist on the Education Week webinar, Activate Student Success with Database Access. She presented on Library Remodels at the 2015 BAISL annual meeting. She was also one of the subjects of the Lisa Peet article for Library Journal, “Conspiring to Educate: Working Together for Transitioning Students.” She is an International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Certified Educator and presented at the ISTE annual conference in 2020 and 2021.

Jo earned her B.A. in English with a writing concentration at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Before working at Country Day, Jo worked at Rutgers Law Library in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now University of the Sciences) in Philadelphia. She also was a freelance editor and writer in Philadelphia and had a resume writing business. 

Jo loves crafting, playing ukulele, and spending time with family, especially on road trips. Her daughter attended Country Day for second through 12th grades.

Faculty & Staff

Pablo Morales
Tech Support Assistant

Pablo Morales comes to us from Omaha, Nebraska where he taught French and Spanish for two years. Learning and teaching world languages is his passion. He received his B.A. in Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in French and English as a Second Language (ELL/ESL). He grew up in the town where Kool-Aid was invented, home to the world’s largest Kool-Aid stand.

Whenever he’s not teaching, Pablo likes Pokémon cards (looking to battle?), longboarding, coding/programming, and traveling. He plans to travel to South Korea with other educators in 2022 to learn how to become a better teacher by observing South Korean classrooms. 

Faculty & Staff

Michelle Myers
Director of Physical Education, PK-12th grade

Michelle Myers serves as Country Day’s Director of Physical Education for PK-12th grades. She is also a physical education teacher to Lower School and High School students, as well as oversees the Independent P.E. programs for 5th through 12th grades. 

Michelle started her schooling at the University of Hawaii, then transferred to California State University, Sacramento where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education/Athletic Training (subsumption in biology), and became a P.E. Movement Education Specialist.

Michelle was then accepted into the credentialing program at CSUS, to finish her teaching degree. After that, Michelle completed course work  for a Master’s in Education from Saint Marys’ college in Moraga.

While Michelle’s path had two directions- teaching and coaching, she also became a consultant for many CAIS schools on how to develop a “Developmentally Appropriate Physical Education Program”.

While in college, Michelle also found a fondness for volleyball under the tutelage of the infamous Debby Colberg and Weidi Zhang. She then went on to coach girl’s volleyball at Country Day, American River College, and Consumes College. 

Trying to encourage the boys, Michelle started the first boys’ volleyball team at Country Day, formed a Junior Olympic Boy’s club, worked as a summer coach at Stanford Boy’s Camps, coached at Rio Americano, and finally became the Men’s Volleyball coach for both JV, and eventually Varsity, at California State University, Sacramento. 

Michelle received the Francie Tidey award in 2015 from former Country Day alumni in honor of her dedication to excellence in teaching. “It was the most humbling experience and honor, I’ve ever had!” she says.

Michelle’s hobbies include playing polo and enjoying her horses, her running club SACFIT , owned by Alum Ken Press, cooking for friends, and most importantly staying connected to former students via Facebook- that’s about 1,000 students!

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Kristi Peoro
Assistant to the Head of Lower School

Kristi Peoro is the Assistant to the Head of Lower School. Her duties include assisting parents and students, providing clerical support to faculty and the Head of Lower School, maintaining student files, providing first aid and triaging student illnesses, and maintaining records for parent drivers.

She first joined Country Day in 2008 as the Assistant to the Athletic Director and also served as Assistant to the Head of High School. After taking several years off to raise her two daughters, Kristi feels fortunate to serve the Lower School.

Kristi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science from San Jose State University.  Prior to San Jose State University she attended Hawaii Pacific University on a volleyball scholarship where her team won the NCAA Division II National Championships.

Faculty & Staff

Alicia Perla
Director of College Counseling

Alicia Perla brings a wealth of academic excellence to this position. In volunteer positions, Alicia has worked closely with Breaththrough Sacramento and with the College Counselors at Country Day. As a parent of two Country Day students, Alicia understands and believes in our mission and our strength of community. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University, a J.D. from The University of Michigan, and a College Admission and Career Planning Certificate from the University of California, Berkeley. Alicia also serves on the Board of Directors of ScholarMatch, a community-based organization helping high-achieving, underrepresented students apply to and attend college.

Faculty & Staff

William Petchauer
Chief Financial Officer/Business Manager

B.A., Albion College; MBA, San Jose State University

Faculty & Staff

Adie Renteria
Lower School Learning Specialist

Adie Renteria is one of Country Day School’s Learning Specialists. She works to support students and teachers throughout the lower school. She is responsible for overseeing AimsWeb testing, writing learning profiles for students who need extra accommodations, meeting with teachers and parents to develop learning plans for students, and working with students one-on-one and in small groups. 

Before coming to Country Day School in 2019, she worked at Trevor Day School in New York City as the K-2 Learning Specialist where she helped the lower school faculty review and modify the literacy curriculum, monitored assessments, and worked with students in small groups and one-on-one as a Reading Recovery Teacher. She had a private tutoring practice for students of all ages and has previous experience as a First Grade Teacher. 

Adie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from Princeton University with a certificate in Latin American Studies. The best part of her college experience was working with the award-winning poets, C.K. Williams and Paul Muldoon, in the Creative Writing Department, and the Argentinean author, Ricardo Piglia, in the Spanish Department to translate the work of the Argentinian poet, Alejandra Pizarnik, for her senior thesis. 

Adie had always dreamed of becoming a teacher so she joined the New York City Teaching Fellows as soon as she graduated from Princeton and spent two years teaching at an inner-city school in the South Bronx. She earned a Master of Science in Childhood Education from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York and a Master of Education with a specialization in Literacy from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. 

Adie’s current hobbies include indoor cycling, yoga, baking, reading, and biking along the American River with her family. 
 

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Sue Ryan
Lower School Learning Specialist Assessment Coordinator
Lower School

B.A., Cardinal Stritch College; M.S., California State University, Fullerton

Faculty & Staff

Melissa Strong
Assistant Middle and High School Librarian
The Glass Knife Literary Magazine Advisor
The Medallion Yearbook Advisor

A wearer of many hats, Melissa Strong is the Assistant Librarian in the Matthews Library, the Medallion yearbook advisor, and The Glass Knife literary magazine advisor. They curate the library’s displays, perform circulation services, create content for the library’s social media sites, process books, and assist however she can to help make the library a magical place.

Before coming to Country Day is 2016, she worked for the California State Library Foundation archiving special projects. Prior to that, they worked at the Sacramento Public Law Library and the library at Humboldt State University. 

Melissa graduated with high honors from Sacramento City College with an Associate in Science degree in Library and Information Technology. Their favorite college memory is having their daughter attend their graduation. They are currently in pursuit of their degree in Graphic Design and Media Arts at Southern New Hampshire University.

Melissa’s hobbies include tsundoku (book hoarding), reading, crafting, and streaming the same show for the hundredth time.

Faculty & Staff

Grace Strumpfer (‘16)
Assistant to the Head of High School
Assistant to the Athletic Director
International Student Coordinator

Grace is a Country Day alum (and lifer!). She graduated in 2016 and went on to attend the University of San Diego. They graduated with a degree in History.

Faculty & Staff

Rory Tira
Garden Supervisor

Rory Tira coordinates farm and garden experiences for the school community.  She brings professional training and 16 years of experience as a 9th grade teacher in Sacramento and Berkeley.  Rory more recently worked in a long term volunteer role at Table Farm in urban Sacramento.  Discovering the joy of outdoor work, organic growing, finding kinship with like minded men and women, and building community made her realize that if you want to be a farmer, go be one.  

Outside of school, Rory is a mom to teenage sons. Much of her favorite parenting has been with her kids wading upstream in creeks, picking blackberries, pulling rainbow trout out of rivers, pulling carrots out of the garden, hanging out with horses and spotting turkeys, egrets, deer, otters, and eagles in their habitats.  That same joy and adventure transfers now to outdoor moments of wonder with students in the school garden. 

Rory studied at U.C. San Diego for her undergrad work and earned her teaching credential and Masters in Education at San Francisco State University.  Se habla español.  In the 1990s, she was part of the Breakthrough Collaborative (at the time called Summerbridge), taught in San Francisco, worked on curriculum design in the national office, and helped pioneer Breakthrough Manchester in New Hampshire.    

Mrs. Tira is a backyard chicken wrangler, a bee keeper’s daughter, and a dog person. She can make dinner with food minutes from the garden.  She can repair a broken irrigation line and teach kindergartners to plant winter crops. But she still does not know how to tell when a watermelon is perfect to pick.

Faculty & Staff

Michael Unti
Director of Technology

Michael Unti has taught Computer Science, Robotics, and Ethics for 10 years. He holds a Master’s Degree from Boston College, as well as a Bachelor’s from Saint Bonaventure University and is working towards a Master’s in STEM Education at NC State University. He enjoys traveling and has studied abroad at Oxford University, England, as well as the Colegio de Espana in Salamanca, Spain.  

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Dana Vargo
Director of Admission and Enrollment Management

B.A., University of the Pacific; M.A., University of the Pacific

A native Californian, Dana earned her bachelor of arts and master’s degrees in English Literature from the University of the Pacific. Dana’s career at Country Day began in 1997 when she joined the High School English faculty. Within a few years,  she began assisting Country Day’s admissions efforts, eventually making the leap to her current role as Associate Director of Admission.

Dana lives in the Arden-Arcade area of Sacramento with her husband Matt and two sons. Dana feels it’s a privilege to share the Country Day program and community with prospective families.

Faculty & Staff

Matt Vargo
Athletic Director

B.A., University of the Pacific

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Amy Nelson Wells ’98
Director of the Country Day Fund
Alumni Coordinator

B.S., University of California, Berkeley; M.S., University of California, Davis

Faculty & Staff

Emily Wilson
Associate Director of Admission

Emily Wilson is excited to continue her work as Associate Director of Admission and help new families learn more about Sacramento Country Day. Emily has a strong public relations and communications background and is an experienced community member with children in all three divisions. In her spare time, Emily loves to read.