New Employees for 2020-21

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Country Day is pleased to welcome the following employees to our school for the 2020-21 school year. You can find contact information for employees using our school directory here.

Lower School

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.

Richele Cooley, Kindergarten

This is Richele’s first year at Sacramento Country Day but 10th year teaching Kindergarten. Richele previously worked in the Merryhill schools for nine years and taught 1st grade for one year. Her greatest accomplishment was being nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2014. Richele graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Liberal Studies and has been in the field of education since 1997. Originally from the Bay Area, she and her husband, Jason, have two rambunctious boys, ages 9 and 3. In her free time, she loves taking her boys swimming or to the beach. Richele believes every child deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her highest potential. Kindergarten is a time to spark and direct the curiosity and natural love of learning. Kindergarten has become her passion and she cannot wait to take this journey with you. 

Jocelyn Kemp, Second Grade Assistant

This is Jocelyn Kemp’s second year at Country Day, but first year as a Second Grade Teaching Assistant. Previously she worked with all grade levels in ASE. Jocelyn graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2019 with a BS in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Addiction Treatment Services. Jocelyn is so excited for this school year and am looking forward to being active in the Country Day community! 

Mary (May) Murphy, Pre-Kindergarten Assistant

May Murphy is so excited to be joining the Pre-K program at Country Day as a new employee. They have worked at several preschools in the Sacramento area since graduating from Portland State University with a Bachelors in Child, Youth and Family Studies and a minor in Sociology. In their free time, they love both performing in and watching musical theater, playing with their dog and learning new things!

Brittany Torretta, Second Grade

The 2020-21 school year will be Brittany’s first year teaching second grade, but her fourth year at Country Day. Brittany joined the Country Day community in 2017 as a Pre-K teacher. In December 2019, Brittany took over teaching Kindergarten for Sue Lorens while she was on medical leave. Before joining Country Day, Brittany earned her Master of Early Childhood Education at the University of Phoenix and her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development at California State University, Chico. While at Chico she spent time working in their Associated Students Child Development Lab where they practiced intentional teaching, supporting children’s development of critical thinking skills, and enabling them to be lifelong learners. She also volunteered her time in the Helping Hands outreach, working one-on-one with children who had learning challenges, as a positive role model helping the students with self-esteem and being comfortable in a classroom setting. When not busy in school, Brittany enjoys traveling around the world, spending time with her family and friends, hiking, and cooking/baking up her next creative concoction.

Christine Yaklin, First Grade Assistant

Christine Yaklin is the new Assistant Teacher in First Grade. She graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociolinguistics and a minor is Applied Psychology. After graduating, Christine spent time working for Americorps and non-profit afterschool education before returning to school again in 2019. As of May 2020, she received her preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Sacramento State University. Christine is excited to work at Country Day for the 2020-21 school year.

Middle School

David Alvardo, Middle School Spanish

David Alvarado will teach 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.

Ryan Hobbs, 8th Grade 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.

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.

Pepa Novell, Middle School Spanish

Pepa Novell will teach 6th – 8th grade Spanish. This is Pepa’s second year at Country Day, but her first year teaching full time. Pepa earned her Ph.D. 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 the Universitat de Barcelona. Pepa has worked internationally in teaching and research roles at universities in Canada, Denmark, and Spain. She also has experience as a publisher and editor.

High School

Nancy Lopez, 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. 

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. 

Multi-Division and Staff

Carly Bornmann, Kindergarten Assistant and High School The Glass Knife Advisor

Carly Bornmann is a Film, Writing, and Yoga Teacher. She received a BFA in Filmmaking with concentrations in Writing and Production Design from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduation Carly decided she wanted to bring the arts to children! She received her STARS Early Childhood certification and has spent the last two years and teaching in Lynnwood, Washington at an International Baccalaureate School. Carly also holds her 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher Certification and 32hr Yoga Education Certification. She teaches early morning vinyasa yoga classes for adults and on the weekend she teaches a kids yoga class! Carly believes yoga is an amazing tool that gives both children and adults a deeper understanding of how their bodies and minds work, and loves bringing some of these techniques into the classroom! She is excited to now be in Sacramento and join the Country Day team to begin working with the students on The Glass Knife and in the classroom as a Kindergarten Assistant.

Maria Hoyos, 5th-12th Music

Maria Hoyos will teach 5th grade, Middle, and High School Orchestra, Choir, and Chamber Ensemble following the retirement of Felicia Keys. This is her second year at Country Day, but her first year teaching in these roles. Maria is a performing artist and a classical music instructor. Her work spans a variety of fields including teaching string ensembles in Napa and Sacramento, playing cello in orchestras such as the Camellia Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Napa Valley, and working with church groups. She has been teaching and performing for 30 years and is a member several associations including the Federation of Professional Musicians, the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the California Music Teachers Association, and the American String Teachers Association. Maria earned a Master of Art in cello performance from California State University, Sacramento.

Rebecca Lau, Associate Director of Admission

Rebecca Lau is our new Associate Director of Admission. Prior to joining Country Day, Rebecca was the Director of Marketing and Admissions at SSIS, Suzhou’s International School in Suzhou, China. She also previously worked on the Marketing Strategy and Brand Analytic teams at both Interbrand and Clear Strategy. She holds a B.S. in Marketing and a B.A. in Public Relations from the University of Dayton as well as a Masters of International Business Administration from The Thunderbird School of Global Management, ASU. Rebecca is thrilled to join the Country Day team because working in schools allows her passion for marketing and research to be used in an educational setting.

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. 

Lauren Miller, Middle and High School Latin

Lauren Miller comes to Country Day from the Classics Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley, where, after finishing her M.A., she taught both Latin courses and freshman writing seminars on the history of the novel. Before moving to California for graduate school, she hadn’t been west of the Mississippi. Lauren grew up in upstate New York and attended Williams College, where she completed a B.A. as a double major in Comparative Literature and Classics but she fell in love with the Bay Area and has made Berkeley her home for the past five years. Outside of the classroom, Lauren is passionate about fashion history, and has enjoyed working on a number of contemporary plays and theatrical productions as a designer, as well as sourdough baking, cycling, and hiking with her partner Sam and their dog Little Edie. 

Michael Unti, Associate Director of Technology and High School STEM

Michael Unti joins us from Summit, New Jersey as our new High School STEM teacher and Associate Director of Technology. He 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.  He now enthusiastically joins Country Day and looks forward to working with the students, faculty, staff and parents of the community.