New Employees for 2021-22


We are pleased to welcome the following new employees for the 2021-22 school year.

Lower School

Phoebe Howe, First Grade Assistant

Phoebe Howe is a lifelong learner and longtime educator, born and raised in Massachusetts, she began teaching in high school, as a volunteer summer school reading helper. Phoebe has a BA in Latin American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where she started the English Language Learners Tutoring Program at a local middle school. After completing her TEFL/TESOL certification, Phoebe traveled to northern Honduras and taught English as a Foreign Language for three years. In addition to that, Phoebe was a Farm Educator, assisting in the development and implementation of several new outdoor education curriculums.

Candace Morgan, Second Grade Teacher

Candace Morgan is delighted to join the Country Day community as a Second Grade Teacher. She has taught in independent schools for seven years, but for the last three years, she has worked as a full-time mom.

Previously, Candace taught Kindergarten and then 3rd grade in Durham, North Carolina. While there, she also briefly ran the After School Program and was the Faculty Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She also has experience teaching Pre-Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th grade students in various parts of the country, including three years at The Dalton School in New York City where she developed a passion for student-centered social and emotional learning.

Prior to becoming a teacher, Candace worked in development for nonprofits and earned a master’s degree in Modern Art Theory from Columbia University. Before she left New York, she was working toward a master’s in Elementary Education at Hunter College. Candace earned a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also earned a third-degree black belt in traditional Okinawan karate and was a karate instructor for five years.

When she’s not working, Candace enjoys nature walks with her husband and two young daughters. She also enjoys traveling, reading, making art and yoga.

Erin Post, Pre-Kindergarten Assistant

Erin Post is happy to be joining the Pre-Kindergarten team. She has previous experience working in First grade and Pre-Kindergarten and spent a summer as a camp counselor at Country Day. She has also spent valuable time at home raising her three young children and volunteering in their classrooms. One of her favorite volunteer activities was her role as an Art Docent, where she taught lower elementary students about various artists and their techniques, then guided the students through a related art lesson. 

Erin is a true believer in developing the whole child. She believes that creating a safe community within the classroom allows students to develop appropriate social/emotional skills and thus feel safe enough to take risks in their academic learning.  She loves the emphasis that Country Day places on community, experiential learning, and developing all aspects of a child’s self. 

When she is not in the classroom or shuttling her kids to and from activities, Erin enjoys reading, gardening, exercising, and exploring new places with her husband. She is also enjoying challenging herself as she attempts to re-learn the Spanish language through online tutoring. 

Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Scripps College and her Multiple Subject teaching credential with CLAD at California State University, Sacramento.

Christian Scott, 3rd Grade Substitute

Christian Scott is excited to be joining the lower school team. He is from the Sacramento area and is honored to be able to impact his own community. He received a BA in Political Science and a Minor in Human Rights from the University of California, Davis. He looks forward to devoting his time to one classroom this year as he was a substitute last year for the lower school. When Christian is not in the classroom he is taking care of his cat, playing sports, reading, hanging with friends and family. He is also a big Star Wars, Marvel, and anime fan. 

Lisa Williams, Pre-Kindergarten Director and Lead Teacher

Lisa Williams is joining Country Day with 20 years of experience as a Pre-K teacher. She joins us from Tulsa, Oklahoma where she has been an integral part of Oklahoma’s nationally recognized universal Pre-K program. She participated with Tulsa Public Schools in Georgetown University’s high-quality Pre-K research project, as well as collaborating with the University of Tulsa education department’s focus on the importance of oral language in the early years.  Lisa has a master’s in Urban Education but she is just as proud of her two times as her school’s Teacher of the Year. She and her husband (a P.E. teacher) love traveling the world, but they are so excited to finally make California their home.

Middle School

Molly Frandrup, Middle School Science

Molly Frandrup has been teaching 6th grade for the last four years and has been teaching for a total of seven years. She received a BA in Child Development from California State University Sacramento in 2010 and a Masters in Teaching from The University of San Francisco in 2014.

When she is not teaching, she enjoys reading, playing sports, coaching, and all things Disney. She was born and raised in Sacramento and she and her husband have two wonderful children.

Ashley McDaniel, 8th grade English

Ashley McDaniel holds a B.A. in Social Science with a minor in History from California State University, Sacramento, and a Masters in Teacher Education with a Single Subject Credential from the University of San Francisco. Prior to joining Country Day, Ashley taught Middle School English Language Arts at a local private school. She has also taught an accelerated History class at the high school level. Before committing herself to be an educator, Ashley was a Budget and Contract Analyst in the Investment Office at the California Public Employees’ Retirement system.  

When not in the classroom, Ashley can be found training for local runs, gardening, reading a book, or hanging with her nephews. Ashley is an AVID Disney fan and can spend hours chatting about the Happiest Place on Earth.

Pablo Morales, Middle School French

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. 

High School

Chelsie Beck, 9th Grade World History and AP U.S. 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.

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.

Malak Abou Faour, 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.

Diego Panasiti, Spanish and 10th Grade 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 an 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. 

Alicia Perla, College Counselor

Alicia Perla brings a wealth of academic excellence to this position. In volunteer positions, Alicia has worked closely with Breakthrough 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.S. from Columbia University, a J.D. from The University of Michigan, and an expected College Admission and Career Planning Certificate from the University of California, Berkeley.


Rory Tira, Garden Supervisor

Rory Tira is our new Garden Supervisor. She has experience working on an urban farm in Land Park, working with Breakthrough Sacramento, and also has a teaching background in Spanish and Social Studies. 

Evan Ward, Middle and High School Latin

Evan Ward will teach 6th-12th grade Latin and AP Latin.  Evan comes to Sacramento Country Day School with a B.A. in Classics from Xavier University, an M.A. in Classics from Vanderbilt University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Linguistics from Ball State University.  Evan’s research and dissertation focus on the pragmatics of gender reference in language. Evan has seven years of experience teaching middle and high school Latin. 

Outside of academics, Evan’s passion is bluegrass and traditional Appalachian music, playing the banjo, and singing professionally in the U.S. and internationally.

Key Staffing Changes

Elena Rodriguez Bennett, 4th Grade Music

Our Lower School Music Teacher Elena Bennet has agreed to delay her retirement and stay on to teach 4th grade music. We are very happy to have her another year! Her curriculum is an integration of the arts—from singing to dancing to instruments to the spoken word—based on peace and social justice studies. The goal is to not only raise better musicians but better people through music.

Ashlie Kirby, PK-3rd Grade Music and Movement

Ashlie Kirby is a Bessie Award-winning Dancer and Dance Educator. 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. 

Last year she taught, Music and Movement to PK-1st grades, and also has taught Middle School and Summer classes with Country Day.

Alma Ponce, Middle School Spanish and K-2nd Grade Art

Alma Ponce joined Country Day in 2020-21 as a Lower School substitute teacher. For the 2021-22 school year, she will take on the role of Middle School Spanish teacher and will teach Kindergarten through 2nd grade art.

Julie Shanks, 3rd-5th Grade Art

This year, Julie Shanks will teach fine art to students in 3rd through 5th grade.  Her studio curriculum encompasses art from all genres, cultures, and media.  Using each grade level curriculum as a launching pad, Julie strives to make connections for students from art to academics.  Deeper yet, she yearns to reach into the heart of each student to appreciate art as a tool of expression for their emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Melissa Strong, 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 this year will serve as the Glass Knife Advisor for the high school. 

Mike Unti, Director of Technology

Mike Unti joined Country Day in 2020, and will serve as the Director of Technology for 2021-22.