High School

Faculty & Staff

Brooke Wells
Head of High School
English Teacher

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

Jane Stroup Bauman
Director of College Counseling
High School English

Jane Bauman joined the high school English faculty in fall 2005 and added Director of College Counseling to her teaching duties in the fall of 2012. 

Before coming to Country Day, she worked in undergraduate admissions at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she specialized in international admissions. 

Bauman has also taught English as a Second Language in a variety of university programs at University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of Nevada, Reno; University of Nevada Reno, International Division in Japan; Texas Wesleyan College; and Strayer College (Washington, D.C.).

Bauman has a Master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in French literature from UC Santa Cruz. She is also a member of the Northern Nevada Writing Project. 

Having lived and studied abroad in Japan, Ecuador, and France, she considers study abroad a transformative experience that all students should consider. She is also an avid theatergoer and longtime member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 

 

Faculty & Staff

Chelsie Beck
9th Grade World History and AP US History

Chelsie Beck will teach 9th Grade World History and AP US History. Chelsie holds a BA in US History from Shippensburg University, an MA in Library Science from Kent State University, and Masters in Teaching with a social studies concentration from St. Michael’s College. Holding a state license in social studies from Vermont, Chelsie brings a wealth of academic knowledge and pedagogical understanding to this position. An avid ballet dancer, Chelise will add a creative flair to our classrooms and our campus.

Faculty & Staff

Victoria Conner
High School Chemistry

B.A., Mt. Holyoke College; M.S., Pace University; J.D., Widener University School of Law

Faculty & Staff

Andy Cunningham
Middle and High School Art

B.A., Menlo College; M.A. Hunter College

Faculty & Staff

Richard Day
High School French

Richard Day is the Country Day High School French teacher and teaches French 1, French 2, French 3, French 4, and AP French. Monsieur Day has been teaching at Country Day for 23 years.

He earned an Associate Degree from Red Rock Community College in Golden, CO; a Certificate of French Studies from the University of Dijon, France; a B.A. in French & Education from the University of Maryland; a Diploma of French Literature from La Sorbonne, Paris; an M.A. in French from UC Berkeley; an “ABD” in French from UC Davis; and an ESL Certificate from UC Davis. 

He has also taught English at the Lycée Jules Ferry in Paris, as well as at the Université de Bordeaux and at the Université de Nantes where he held lecturer positions. He takes pride on having published a paper in French on the French playwright Racine. 

He also takes great delight in playing guitar and harmonica in various bands in Davis and Sacramento. He mostly enjoys jazz and blues, but also plays rock, folk, alternative music, and world music, among others.

“I could not conceive of a life without music,” he says.

He has traveled extensively to France to visit friends and family, as well as to Belgium and Switzerland

Richard believes strongly in the need to cure monolingualism! 

“Avoir une autre langue, c’est posséder une deuxième âme.” - Charlemagne

Faculty & Staff

Julie Didion
Middle and High School Ceramics & Sculpture

B.A., California State University, Sacramento

Faculty & Staff

Malak Abou Faour
High School Physics and Math

Malak Abou Faour joins our outstanding STEM team to teach 9th grade Physics, Algebra II, and AP Physics C. With 13 years of experience teaching high school physics and degrees in both physics and education from Lebanese University, Malak comes with a rare and powerful combination of deep understanding of complex physics and finely tuned teaching craftsmanship.  Fluent in English, Arabic, and French, Malak adds a unique multinational perspective to our campus.

Faculty & Staff

Charles Farris
Computer Science Coordinator

Charles Farris joins Country Day to lead our Computer Science program. As a QuestBridge Scholar, Charles earned his BA with a double major in Computer Science and Spanish Language and Culture from Wesleyan University. Charles has experience teaching coding, software development, game design, as well as leading courses in bilingual education. An expert chess player, avid musician, and strong athlete, Charles will add passion and creativity to many areas of our campus.

Faculty & Staff

Jason Hinojosa
High School English Department Chair
High School English

B.A., St. John’s College; MFA, University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop

Faculty & Staff

Maria Hoyos
Lower School Music
Grades 5-12 Orchestra, Chamber Music, Choir

Maria Berenice Hoyos is the 5th grade orchestra and High School chamber music teacher at Country Day. She also works with the Napa Valley Language Academy teaching cello, with Oasis Music Inc providing cello, violin lessons  and live performances, and collaborates with local churches and organizations preparing different performances and musical events.

She plays the cello at Camellia Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Napa Valley. Her professional experience spans more than 30 years of both teaching and performing during which she established a reputation as an outstanding performer and successful teacher.

She is a member of several associations, including, but not limited to, the Federation of Professional Musicians, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the California Music Teachers Associations and the American String Teachers Association. 

Maria earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in cello performance and she completed several courses of Suzuki teacher training at Stanford University in California, in Texas and Utah. She participated in Summer chamber and orchestra studies at San Francisco Conservatory and Nevada University in Las Vegas.

Faculty & Staff

Liz Leavy
High School Art History
Medallion Advisor

B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A. University of California, Berkeley

Faculty & Staff

Rick Lewkowitz
High School Mock Trial

Rick Lewkowitz has been teaching a mock trial course at Country Day since the fall of 2017.  He also coaches their mock trial team. In 2018 he coached that school’s program to its first ever Sacramento County Championship.  

Before coming to Country Day, Rick had nearly 20 years experience as an attorney coach for high school mock trial.  From 2003 – 2017, he was the attorney coach for Elk Grove High School Mock Trial. In that role he helped that program win one state championship,  finish twice as runner-up for the state championship, and win nine county championships. In 2014 the Constitutional Rights Foundation (the organization that runs the state’s high school mock trial program) named him the recipient of the award that year for “Adult Advocate of the Year” (In other words: High School Mock Trial Coach of the Year for the entire state).  

For the past four years he has also served as the attorney coach for the UC Davis Undergraduate Mock Trial Team.  In his first year as their coach he helped guide them to qualify to compete in the 2016 National Collegiate Championship Tournament for the first time in the school’s history.  They repeated that lofty feat again in 2017 and 2019. Finally, he has frequently helped teach trial advocacy to law students at UC Davis, Stanford University, and the University of Pacific.

Rick’s retired from his first career as a prosecuting attorney in Sacramento in 2013.  The last 25 years as a prosecutor he served as a Supervising Deputy DA. During his career he was the recipient of multiple awards for his efforts in combating both domestic violence and child abuse.  While still a prosecutor he taught a wide range of courses to prosecutors throughout California with the California District Attorneys Association and throughout the United States with the National District Attorneys Association. 

Rick earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Santa Clara University.  While there, he served as the University’s Varsity Tennis Team Captain. After Santa Clara’s graduation he attended law school at the University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.  He has been happily married to his wife for 43 years. They are the proud parents of three adult children and the proud grandparents of six grandchildren.

Faculty & Staff

Jane McGinnes
Middle School English
High School Drama

Jane is a recent transplant from the Bay Area, where she was a 6th grade English teacher and Middle School Drama Director at Almaden Country Day School. Prior to that, she taught Middle and High School Theatre at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington, North Carolina. Before becoming a teacher, Jane worked as an actor in the UK, touring schools with educational plays, and taking original theatre pieces to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A highlight of Jane’s acting career was spending two years touring Europe, the Middle East and Japan; she played Ralph in an all-female version of Lord of the Flies, and then Lady Macduff and Witch Three in a production of Macbeth. Jane has a BA (with Honors) in Performing Arts from The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Drama in Education from Birmingham City University.

Currently, she is enrolled on a Master’s in Creative Writing through the Open University, where her focus is playwriting. Jane’s hobbies include walking with her dogs, Kelly and Lars, and keeping fit in Yoga or kick-boxing classes. She loves to attend theatre productions, locally or in San Francisco, and is a frequent moviegoer. 

Faculty & Staff

Joanne Melinson
Middle and High School Librarian

Jo Melinson has been working in libraries for over 28 years. She started working at Country Day in 1994, and since 2007 has been the 6th – 12th grade librarian. She has been the High School Literary Magazine Adviser since 2000, and the High School Scholar Inclusion Co-Coordinator since 2019.

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).

She 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”

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

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!

Faculty & Staff

Diego Panasiti
High School Spanish and English Literature

A uniquely talented educator, Diego Panasiti brings a wide-range of extraordinary talents to Country Day. An experienced Spanish teacher and a Latin-American literature and culture specialist with a B.A. from Rutgers University and a M.A. from the University of Maryland, Diego adds to our Spanish program and helps build our 10th grade humanities curriculum towards a remarkable study of global migration. As a skilled wilderness guide and trained first-responder, Diego will also add a layer of safety to our campus and will potentially help develop our outdoor education program. 

Faculty & Staff

Alicia Perla
College Counselor

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

Patricia Portillo
High School Spanish

Patricia Portillo serves as Country Day’s High School Spanish Teacher. She is responsible for creating and implementing curriculum for Spanish I, II, III, IV and AP Spanish Language and Culture. Patricia is a Co-Coordinator of the Scholar Inclusion Program along with Joanne Melinson.

Before coming to Country Day in 2008, Patricia worked at Rosemont High School. She was a faculty member at Trinity University in Washington D.C. after finishing her Ph.D. at Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While finishing her Ph.D., Patricia taught undergraduate level classes at Temple University, and at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a Master’s degree in Spanish from the University of California, Riverside while teaching at Rancho Cucamonga High School. Patricia obtained a California Single Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Fullerton and earned her B.A. in Spanish from the University of California, Irvine.

Her favorite college experiences were reading Latin American and Spanish literature with her classmates, and exploring aspects of language and power in her graduate courses at Temple University.

“What I love about teaching is being able to see students grow emotionally and intellectually, and to be able to help them see the world from the angle of a Spanish speaker. As becoming bilingual is often the end result in their years studying Spanish at Country Day,” she says.

Patricia was born and raised in El Salvador. She has traveled to Guatemala, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, England and most recently, China. To her, “traveling is one of the best ways to understand others, our own culture, and why we live the way we live.” Patricia also enjoys her free time hiking and gardening.

Faculty & Staff

Bonnie Stewart
Octagon Advisor

Bonnie Stewart is an award-winning journalist, author and educator with 30 years of experience as an investigative reporter and university professor. She earned a George Polk Award for stories she and an investigative partner wrote for the Indianapolis Star, uncovering the city’s high animal shelter euthanasia rates and financial malfeasance at the Indianapolis Humane Society. While teaching at West Virginia University, she investigated a coal mining disaster and the West Virginia University Press published her nonfiction book, “No.9: the 1968 Farmington Coal Mine Disaster.” During her research, she uncovered new evidence that explained why the mine exploded and 78 men died. Families of the dead filed a new lawsuit against the coal company, which subpoenaed Stewart’s unpublished reporting records. In court, her attorney argued Reporter’s Privilege, and the court ruled against coal company. Stewart has won dozens of awards while reporting in Indianapolis and for the Press-Enterprise in Riverside and Oregon Public Broadcasting. She was the adviser for the award-winning Daily Titan at California State University, Fullerton before semi-retiring to Sacramento to be near family. She has two grandchildren at Country Day. Stewart holds a Master’s Degree in English from California State University, Sacramento. 

Faculty & Staff

Melissa Strong
Assistant Middle and High School Librarian
Marketing & Communications Assistant
Glass Knife Advisor

A woman of many talents, Melissa Strong is the Assistant Librarian in the Matthews Library, part-time Marketing and Communications Assistant and Glass Knife Advisor. She creates the library’s displays, performs circulation services, creates content for the library’s social media sites, processes books, and assists 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, she 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. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Her favorite college memory is having her daughter attend her graduation.

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