Middle School

Faculty & Staff

Rommel Loria
Head of Middle School

B.A., Georgetown University, M.A., Johns Hopkins University, J.D., University of Maryland School of Law 

Rommel comes to Country Day from the Park School in Baltimore, where he was the Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning. Rommel received a bachelor of science in Finance from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in liberal arts from John Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor degree from University of Maryland. His success as both a Middle School Language Arts teacher and as an administrator of a PK-12 program makes him an ideal person for the Middle School position.

Rommel and his wife Jessica live in Sacramento with their three children, Leah, Charlie, and Max. 

Faculty & Staff

David Alvarado
Middle School Spanish

David Alvarado teaches 6th and 8th grade Spanish 1. David earned his B.A in Spanish with a Certificate for Healthcare Professionals (HEALS) at California State University, Sacramento. He also is working on his M.A in Spanish at CSUS. 

Before coming to Country Day, David was a qualified tutor at Total Education Solutions. During his time in this role, he supported students in achieving their individual academic goals by identifying specific skills to be worked on through direct academic instruction. Driven by students’ academic success, he takes pride in providing the best assistance his students can receive.

As a Spanish teacher, his goals include helping his students become proficient in the language and get familiar with the culture of Spanish speaking countries. In addition to his primary job functions, David has been recognized by various organizations such as El club de español, Alpha Psi Lambda and Sigma Delta Pi for his extraordinary commitment to community service inside and outside of campus.

In his free time, he enjoys working out, reading literature books, traveling, and hiking.

Faculty & Staff

Edward Bolman
Sixth Grade
Middle School Mathematics Department Chair
Middle School Dean of Student Life & Student Council Advisor

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, Middle School Student Council Advisor, 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

Kelly Bornmann
Middle School Science
Lower School Science Coordinator

Kelly Bornmann

Kelly Bornmann serves as Country Day’s 6th Grade Science teacher, 6th Grade Human Sexuality Educator, and Lower School Science Coordinator for grades PreK-1. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to work in both divisions helping students explore and understand the world around them. 

Over the course of her career, Kelly has had the pleasure of teaching science at almost grade level,  teaching 6th grade history, teaching Music Together, running her own school, being head of the Princeton Lab School in Princeton, NJ, working for the Nature Conservancy, and the best job of all, raising her two children. Prior to joining the faculty at Country Day, Kelly most recently served as the Lower School Science Coordinator for the Collegiate School for Boys in New York City. There she served as the science teacher for grades K, 2, 3, and 4, and oversaw curriculum development, teacher training, and special events such as the Invention Convention and Family Science. In addition, she worked closely with the head of the science department planning the K-12 science curriculum and developing interdisciplinary/interdivisional units of study. 

Kelly believes that to be a good teacher, you must always be a student. She is passionate about developing her own craft and supporting others in doing the same. To foster her own learning, she has been the recipient of many grants that have allowed her to collaborate with educators and science professionals around the globe which has helped her deepen her understanding of the art of teaching and keep her science skills sharp by spending time in the field. Kelly also belongs to several state, national and international teaching organizations, and regularly attends and presents on topics such as early-childhood music education, STEM education, and technology in the classroom. In addition to her job at Country Day, she serves as a Lower School human sexuality consultant for Dr. Debbie Roffman and the Park School in Baltimore, MD; an educational manuscript reviewer for the International Society for Technology Educators; and as a beta-tester and educational consultant for organizations such as The Lawrence Hall of Science, Google, Nearpod, and BioDive. 

Kelly credits her love of science and nature to growing up in the Pine Barrens of NJ, her parent’s patience with with her never-ending questions, and two amazing science teachers – Mr. Albert Morrison (8th grade science) and Mr. Stanley Stankewicz (Bio and AP Bio) – who opened up the world of science beyond the woods and never questioned a girls’ passion for science.  Convinced she would be a marine ecologist, Kelly graduated with honors from Douglas College, Rutgers University with a degree in Biological Sciences. She spent much of her college career working in the field at the Rutgers Marine Field station, volunteering for the NY Aquarium in Coney Island, acting as a naturalist for the NJ Marine Science Consortium. While she adored the field work, the many solitary hours of crunching and analyzing data were not for her.  Out of college, she took a job with the Nature Conservancy in New York City as an administrative assistant where she had the opportunity to help develop the local educational outreach program. The interactions with the students were the best part of her job and she began to see education as the career for her. The opportunity to teach high school chemistry and general science presented itself the next year and the rest is history – Kelly has not left the classroom since.

Kelly received her NJ teaching credentials in Biological Science, General Science, and Elementary Education through the NJ Alternate Route Program at The College of New Jersey; her Level 1, 2 and Associate Teacher Trainer Certifications from the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ; Mindful Educator Training from the Mindful Schools in San Francisco;  and most recently her  Biological Science Single and Elementary Multi-Subject Teaching Credentials from the State of California. She owes a debt of profound gratitude to the three women who helped shape her into the teacher she is today: Ms. Ruth Drake, Dr. Sami Kahn, and Dr. Lili Levinowitz. 

Kelly believes that ’the cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea’ (Isak Dinesen), so outside the classroom she loves spending time with her family, on her bike, doing yoga, traveling, and figuring out ways to spend more time near the ocean! 

Faculty & Staff

Andy Cunningham
Middle and High School Art

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

Faculty & Staff

Lauren Davis
Middle School Math

Lauren Davis comes to us from Nashville, Tennessee, where she has been teaching middle school math for three years. She believes she has found her passion in teaching students how to problem solve and apply mathematics in the real world. Lauren earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Austin Peay State University and graduated summa cum laude. While working towards her degree, Lauren also obtained her teaching licensure, WET (Water Education Teacher) certification, and Praxis certifications to further prepare for teaching middle grades. Lauren previously served as the student representative on the Teacher Education Council for Austin Peay’s education program for undergraduates.  Lauren has served as a site-based induction specialist in mentoring new hires and has co-designed a unit plan with technology integration for all 8th grade mathematics teachers across a school district.

Faculty & Staff

Julie Didion
Middle and High School Ceramics & Sculpture

B.A., California State University, Sacramento

Faculty & Staff

Ryan Hobbs
Middle School History

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 daughter, traveling, trying new food, and cheering for his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.

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

Cade Grunst
Middle School Science

Cade “Mr. G” Grunst teaches 8th grade Earth Science in the Country Day middle school. Earth Science is a broad umbrella covering topics like astronomy, weather, continents, erosion, dinosaurs, the deep ocean, and of course the planet’s ongoing Climate Crisis. The goal of his class is to re-awaken the sense of wonder we experience as young children. He wants students to reexamine the world around them, to see with fresh eyes and understand the joys of clouds and mountains and the moon.

Cade teaches two electives: Robotics and Maker Lab. Maker Lab is an introduction to engineering, where students compete to build the fastest car, the longest bridge, the heaviest cargo ship, etc. Students seeking a more technical experience can engage with laser-cutting, 3D modeling and printing, or work with hobby electronics using the Arduino platform. Cade’s Robotics class is based on the powerful LEGO Mindstorms system. Students build and program mobile robots of their own design, constantly evaluating and innovating to complete a series of challenges. The Robotics elective is also a feeder for the middle school’s competitive after-school Robotics team, which Cade also coaches. Go Techno Cavs!

Cade attended the University of California, Davis, graduating with honors and a degree in Animal Biotechnology in 2009. Cade enjoyed the diverse offerings of a huge university, and during his four years took classes in rock climbing, archery, SCUBA certification, raptor management, Ultimate Frisbee, mushroom cultivation, screen printing, didgeridoo, and 3D animation. Cade also found time in there somewhere to pursue an independent undergraduate research fellowship, where he moved umpteen thousand fungal spores around petri dishes until he had determined that the palmitoyltransferase protein in brewer’s yeast is not involved in telomeric anchoring during meiosis. Probably.

After graduation Cade took a research position with the UCD Center for Neuroscience. While he found the implications of his work on neural connectivity fascinating, the actual day-to-day mechanics of being a lab monkey were ultimately not the best fit. Cade left after two years to pursue education. Cade’s first experiences with classroom teaching were through the Breakthrough Collaborative, and he will forever be grateful to Adolfo Mercado for giving him his start. Cade started substitute teaching in several schools in the Sacramento area, eventually landing a 1-year contract at Country Day that has turned into quite a bit more than expected.

In July, Cade enjoys exploration and wildlife photography. A recent trip took him to Alaska, where he spent three weeks backpacking among juvenile brown bears and a breaching humpback whale. Previous trips have led him to bighorn sheep in the canyons of Utah, mountain goats high above Montana, and pika tucked away among glacial deposits in the Canadian Rockies. Cade loves studying interactions between Earth’s physical and biological systems. Teaching Earth Science has led to a deeper understanding of how geology, meteorology, and ecology intertwine, and Cade brings each adventure back to the classroom. When speaking about convection currents in weather systems, he tells stories of cool night air descending in Canyonlands National Park. Glaciology comes with photographs of Yosemite and the Rockies. Mineralogy is addressed through undersea lava tubes off Kauai.

One of Cade’s biggest regrets is that he was unable to visit the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef before it was devastated by unseasonal cyclones and coral bleaching events. He hopes that through education, he can help enact the societal change necessary to protect our beautiful space pebble. Cade draws inspiration from Carl Sagan, quoting the imperative that ends his famous Pale Blue Dot speech: “…to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish [this] pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Faculty & Staff

Tess Kahn
Middle School History

Tess Kahn teaches Middle School History, 6th grade Ancient History and 8th grade U.S. History. She also teaches the Crafting and Culture Around the World elective. 

Before joining the Country Day community in fall of 2019, she worked at the Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont. She worked there for six years serving the last four as the history department chair and taught everything from 8th grade World History to 12th Grade IB History of the Americas. 

She earned her Bachelor’s in History from Wells College in Aurora, New York and her masters in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester in England. She has worked in museums including the Sutton House in London, the Museums of Old York in Bath, Maine and the Dana House Museum and Woodstock History Center in Woodstock, Vermont. She shifted her focus to teaching when she went back to school and earned her Masters in Teaching from the Upper Valley Graduate Institute.

“Working in museums allowed me to engage with my love of ‘hands-on history’. However, after working as a collections manager focusing mainly with database development, I realized my love of history came from engaging people with the complicated task of understanding how history fits into our understanding of our place in the world today. This is what lead me to my career in teaching,” she says.

Tess’s current hobbies include traveling, cooking one new dish a week and spending time exploring the local area and history. 

Faculty & Staff

Ashlie Kirby
Pre-Kindergarten Music & Movement
Middle School Dance Electives
After-School Enrichment

Ashlie Kirby is a Bessie Award-winning Dancer and Dance Educator. She currently teaches the Dance Elective and Yoga Elective in the middle school, as well as Music and Movement in pre-kindergarten. Prior to joining the faculty, Ashlie spent a decade teaching dance at independent schools on the East and West coasts, including Bentley School, The Brearley School, and Pierrepont School. Ashlie also is a Teaching Artist for the Mondavi Center at UC Davis.

Ashlie holds a BFA in Dance from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s in Dance Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Ashlie also holds teaching credentials in New York (Dance) and California (Physical Education). Prior to returning to her native California, Ashlie spent nine years dancing professionally in New York City in a number of modern dance companies, most notably Jessica Gaynor Dance and Pam Tanowitz Dance. In 2010, she was awarded a Bessie, or New York Dance and Performance Award, for her performance in Pam Tanowitz’s Be in the Grey with Me

Ashlie has served on the board of the California Dance Education Alliance and is passionate about dance education for every child. She first started her study of Dance Education at the 92nd Street Y’s Dance Education Laboratory, where she fell in love with teaching dance to children. She believes that everyBODY is a dancer and that movement and dance are fundamental ways that humans express themselves and connect to their communities. When she is not at Country Day, Ashlie can be found at home with her two young daughters and husband, engaged in messy art projects and living room dance parties. 

“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.” ― Agnes De Mille

Faculty & Staff

Jason Kreps
Physical Education

B.A., California State University, Sacramento

Faculty & Staff

Kathryn LaComb
Middle School English

Kathryn LaComb teaches 7th and 8th grade English at Country Day. She also has taught sophomore English, and she served for two years as the chair of the middle school English department.

Prior to teaching at Country Day, Kathryn taught high school and middle school English and was an adjunct faculty member at Sacramento City College. In between teaching jobs, Kathryn spent 15 years as an independent consultant for educational publishing houses, including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Sylvan. During this time, she wrote hundreds of leveled reading passages, created curriculum and classroom activities, and developed standardized tests for grades K-12. 

Kathryn earned her B.A in English writing from St. Lawrence University and her M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Kathryn has two children, both of whom graduated from Country Day. She spends as much time as she can with them, her parents, and her four siblings at the family rice farm in the northern Sacramento Valley where, she says, she enjoys “taking long walks with the dogs and reading to my heart’s content.”

Faculty & Staff

Nancy Lopez
Middle and High School Spanish

As a native Spanish speaker, Nancy says “sharing my love for my language and culture is my passion.” She was born and raised in Orange County, California, graduated from Cal State Fullerton as a Spanish major, and received her teaching credential from UC San Diego.  She also has taken pedagogy courses at the Universidad de Granada in Spain. This is her 11th year teaching Spanish, 10 years of which were at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, teaching both middle and high school courses. She loves teaching language and sharing the riches of Spanish-speaking cultures in the classroom She believes that her enthusiastic, cultural approach to teaching Spanish enables students to acquire language skills in a manner that keeps them interested and motivated. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, traveling, and taking trips to Disneyland. She is excited to join the Country Day community. 

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
Literary Magazine Advisor

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

Carrie Meyers
Middle School French

Carrie Meyers is the middle school French teacher and also is leading the Improv elective while helping out with Farm to Fork.

She attended the University of Maryland for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Carrie earned a Bachelor of Arts double major in French Language and Literature and Secondary Education, spending her junior year abroad in Nice, France. 

She started her career teaching high schoolers French at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, D.C. After one year with students, Carrie realized she wanted to learn more and embarked upon the journey to obtain her Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction while continuing at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School for three years. She knew that teaching would be her lifelong career and found a position with St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. Carrie started out teaching 8th graders and coaching middle schoolers, eventually adding the titles of Administrative Assistant to the Director of Teaching and Learning, upper school French teacher, library assistant, technology support, and sustainability coordinator. 

Carrie moved to Sacramento with her cat, Bugs Bunny, and her dog, Roo, who she affectionately calls her “furry family.” Her human family is in New Jersey, where she grew up, and her extended network of friends spans the mid-Atlantic region.

Carrie has enrolled in local improv classes and plans to audition for community theater, so you may see her on stage at some point soon! She has also become active within the Alliance Française to make connections with local French speakers. Carrie is thrilled to have this opportunity to teach middle schoolers how to be good people, and maybe learn a little French too.

Faculty & Staff

Laura Steele Monahan
Middle School Mathematics

Laura Steele Monahan teaches 7th grade mathematics at Country Day, as well as two elective courses: Introduction to Digital Photography and Creative Writing. She has worked in all three divisions of the school since she started as a long-term substitute in 8th grade Algebra in the fall of 1995. After a few months of daily subbing, she covered a second maternity leave in 5th grade English and history. Laura taught math, history, and science in the 5th grade for six years before working as the Director of Summerbridge Sacramento (now known as Breakthrough Sacramento) for three years, and has now settled into a long, happy stint in middle school mathematics.

With an undergraduate degree in American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Laura earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at California State University, Sacramento. Some of her previous jobs include working at the Girl Scout Council of Orange County’s Camp Scherman, the Orange County Outdoor Science School, and a small private science museum called The Visionarium where she also taught enrichment classes; she fell in love with math when tutoring at Math Masters Learning Center. During her time at Country Day, she’s participated in curriculum, scheduling, strategic planning, and diversity committees, and helped to establish the school’s fundraising team for the Run to Feed the Hungry.

Laura is an avid reader and an enthusiastic member of the Staffulty Book Club, enjoys musical theatre, and loves spending time outdoors and visiting museums with family and friends. She serves on the Breakthrough Sacramento Advisory Board. A member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, she also enjoys learning about best practices in math education, and talking with colleagues about teaching. One of her favorite Country Day events is playing flute with the Mega Band each May during the Rulindo Play-a-Thon. 

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

Pepa Novell
Middle School Spanish

Dr. Pepa Novell teaches 7th grade Spanish in our World Languages department. Pepa earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Hispanic Studies from Brown University, her Master’s in publishing from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) and her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature and Language from Universitat de Barcelona. 

Pepa has worked internationally in teaching and research roles. After her graduation at Brown, she was Assistant Professor at Queen’s University (Canada) where she got tenured and worked as Associate Professor. As a scholar, she has published in peer-reviewed journals on Spanish contemporary culture, particularly narrative, film and music.

She has extensive international teaching experience at a university level in Spanish language, literature and culture. She has worked with and for a diverse and international student body, which has allowed her to experience a variety of cultures and viewpoints that has helped her gain considerable insight not only about other countries and customs, but about her own country and herself as well.

She has taken an active role in matters related to department language, literature and culture programs and curricular design. She supervised multi-section courses at both Brown and Queen’s, and has designed syllabi at all levels of Spanish language and cultures. She has taken on leadership roles in language instruction but she also strongly values collaboration and teamwork. She has learned to adapt quickly to new environments and the specific needs of a language program. 

During her years at Queen’s University, she was involved in institutional initiatives focusing on diversity, curriculum development, and governance. In her academic career, she played a very active role in promoting a new approach to the curriculum with the addition of a cultural tradition focus to a curriculum merely period-based. 

She has always been an active member of the community. She taught courses in Spanish for adults at the Brown Learning Community, and she joined and managed the Spanish Club at Queen’s. She founded a Book Club in a rural area near Barcelona to promote reading among adults. She considers languages and cultures to be key aspects of knowledge, and she thinks that engaging the community in learning different languages and cultures is the best way to contribute to create citizens for a global world. 

In 2018, she founded MAGMA Editorial, a boutique publishing company based in Madrid (although she makes clear she is from Barcelona). MAGMA publishes novels and short stories in Spanish, and Pepa manages it from Sacramento. 

Pepa describes herself as an advocate of cooperation and collegiality. She is a determined and motivated person who likes to face new challenges and new circumstances. Being in literature and culture has taught her to observe scenarios and situations critically. She likes to rethink, to reread from a new perspective, to constantly use the creative thinking that is inherent to the study of educational, intellectual and cultural issues.

She likes to spend time with her family, to travel and to swim, especially in the Mediterranean sea, and now at Tahoe. She and her husband have three children that attend Country Day.  

Faculty & Staff

Kurt Pearsall
Director of Middle School Bands

Kurt Pearsall serves as Country Day’s Middle School Bands teacher and 5th Grade Band Brass Instructor.  He directs the Middle School Concert Band, Middle School Jazz Band, Middle School Garage Band and the 5th grade trumpet, trombone, and baritone students.  The bands participate in daytime, evening and weekend performances throughout the school year both on campus and in the community or festivals. He also teaches private lessons and performs with the Faculty Jazz Band. 

Before coming to Country Day in 2017, he concluded a 33-year-plus teaching career in public schools, spending the bulk of the years in the Washington Unified School District where he taught marching band, jazz band, concert band, high school chorus, madrigal choir and countless other project groups for all grade levels K-12.  His students can be found performing in a wide variety of musical settings all over the world from a symphony orchestra in Spain to the streets of New Orleans. His former students include current distinguished music professors and music educators in public schools.  

During a short break in his teaching career, he became a full time musician, and even though he returned to full time teaching, never stopped working with the highest quality musical companies including Walt Disney, Barnum and Bailey Circus, The Music Circus and Broadway theater productions, The Sacramento and Central Florida Symphonies, and countless big bands including the Glen Miller Orchestra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He has a strong performance background and has performed with Cab Calloway, Natalie Cole, Englebert Humperdink, Frank Sinatra Jr., Wayne Newton, The Spinners, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations and many more.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and his Master of Music from California State University, Sacramento.  His college career included induction into the Phi Kappa Lambda, an American honor society for undergraduate, graduate and professors of music. He also is credentialed to teach social sciences and has an intense interest in history. 

Over the years he has participated in the California Music Educators Association’s activities and served as the conductor for the Sacramento Capitol Pops Concert Band, and in leadership roles with the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society, Washington Unified School District and the University of Nevada, Reno’s summer music camp at Lake Tahoe.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the Teagarden Jazz camp where he taught and was camp director under the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society.  He also helped to establish the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Foundation.

When he is not performing and teaching Kurt’s hobbies include rebuilding and collecting 1960-1970 era Japanese motorcycles and antique trucks. He also enjoys watching television, doing research on the internet, wilderness survival and outdoor sports and activities, coin collecting, photography, and gardening.

Faculty & Staff

Annie Sterling
Middle School English

Annie Sterling teaches 6th grade English at Country Day. She also serves as a 6th grade advisor, mentoring and supporting 6th grade students through daily advisory periods, parent communication, and conferencing. Additionally, Annie leads the book club and current events elective classes, through which she enjoys sharing her own interests in literature and social issues with her students. 

Before coming to Country Day in the fall of 2019, Annie taught 8th grade English language arts and social studies at Mill Valley Middle School. At Mill Valley Middle School, Annie also served as a teacher leader in professional development and technology integration. She mentored new teachers and contributed to advisory committees related to reading assessment and social emotional learning. Annie also has previous experience teaching English at the high school level and working with the Bay Area Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project, as a teacher consultant.

Annie earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and global studies at UC Santa Barbara, then went on to study education at UC Berkeley with the Multicultural Urban Secondary English program, where she earned her teaching credential and master’s degree. Annie also has completed coursework towards her master’s in administrative services and educational leadership at San Francisco State University. A highlight of her educational journey was studying English literature at King’s College London during her junior year, where she loved getting to see Shakespeare performed in the Globe Theatre and read the complete works of Jane Austen.

Her personal accomplishments include running the San Francisco Nike Women’s Marathon, completing a yoga teacher training, backpacking the Na Pali coast of Kauai, and, most importantly, creating a beautiful daughter in 2018.

These days, Annie spends her free time relaxing with her family, hiking, running, reading, and practicing yoga. 

Faculty & Staff

Melissa Strong
Assistant Middle and High School Librarian

Melissa Strong is the Assistant Librarian in the Matthews Library. 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.