Faculty & Staff Directory
Director of Library Services. Jan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a master’s degree in library science from Rutgers University. She served as head of the Lawrence Branch, Mercer County Library System, prior to joining the Prep faculty in 1979.
“It is a unique place that expects the very best from its students and teachers, and at the same time, provides a community that serves as an envelope of care—Prep is just that place. In so many ways, we are encouraging our students to be serious risk-takers while knowing that the outcome may or may not be as exactly planned. I am also so grateful that as a community of learners, we have chosen to express our commitment to the quest of knowledge with an awe-inspiring school library — certainly one of the best in the city for providing guidance and resources.” -Jan Adesso
Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. Becky received her bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado College and pursued postgraduate studies at Colorado State University in Public Communication and Technology with an emphasis on strategic visual communication. As a graduate student, Becky was an instructor in the Journalism and Media Communication Department and taught computer-mediated visual communications classes.
Becky has extensive experience in fundraising, communication management, and public information campaign development and evaluation. She also has a keen interest in design, and studied graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design and the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. Prior to joining the Prep Advancement team, Becky managed communications and fundraising at a social enterprise focused on poverty alleviation and college-readiness.
Becky and her husband Chris are native New Mexicans and are happy to be raising their daughters, Sylvie and Romy, in Santa Fe and at their family farm in Cundiyo, New Mexico.
School Counselor. Mikahla also teaches health and co-facilitates the peer mentor program. She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Colorado College and her master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in youth at risk from The College of Santa Fe. She is a licensed mental health counselor. Previously she worked in school and clinical settings doing crisis intervention and family therapy.
11th/12th Grade Dean of Students, U.S. History. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mark spent nine years working in commercial kitchens. Outside of school, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, Keira, and daughters Ruby and Cora.
“The large junior class this year has provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with Russell Spinney and Sam Ritter in teaching U.S. History. We are both challenging and supporting each other to create a rigorous and dynamic curriculum. This is my twelfth year in the classroom, and I’ve never been so excited to teach U.S. History.” -Mark Bixby
Assistant Athletic Director, Middle School Athletics Director, Varsity Swim Coach and Assistant Cross Country Coach. Dave received his Bachelor of Art degree in History from James Madison University. Currently, he is working on his Masters of Science Degree in Sports Management. His professional background is in coaching. Dave has coached for 30 years at the club, high school and college level in multiple sports. He spend his time away from school working with the disabled in the water teaching swimming, therapy and water safety. Dave enjoys his free time biking and spending time with his wife, son, daughter and three dogs!
“I believe a teacher helps students to understand how they learn; what works, and what doesn’t. The most important aspect of this process is to work with students within a structure that each student builds; they are self-reliant, and can direct themselves to achieve.”
Science. Melissa Carl is a self-styled polymath who teaches widely across the traditional liberal arts curriculum. She holds degrees from the University of Otago and St. John’s College, and pursued postgraduate studies at the University of London and Santa Fe Community College. Prior to joining the Santa Fe Prep faculty in 2012, Melissa was most recently employed by the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani where she taught undergraduate science classes and completed Impact Assessments for petroleum companies operating in the region.
“Santa Fe Prep shows students just how exciting the life of the mind can be.” -Melissa Carl
Art Department Chair, 3D Studio, Experimental and New Media, Art in the Social Sphere A Native New Mexican, Castillo attended Yale University for two years after high school and then dropped out to work in an electronics factory where she began to forge her early career in contemporary sculpture. She holds a BS from UNM, an MAE with Distinction Honors for her focus on working with diverse populations from the College of Santa Fe and an MFA in 3D studio and Contemporary Theory from the University of New Mexico. Her art follows the examples of other contemporary artists in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style. Castillo is an acclaimed contemporary artist who has produced a range of work from avant garde anonymous interventions to large scale public work. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and has been awarded numerous significant public art commissions including the metal artwork for the New Mexico History Museum in downtown Santa Fe and a large scale public sculpture in Korea for UNESCO. Castillo shows her work regionally at the William Siegal Gallery in Santa Fe. She and her husband Terry Mulert live in the small village of Córdova. Their son Francis graduated from Santa Fe Prep in 2016.
Head of Middle School, MS Algebra I. A 1994 graduate of Prep, Chris is entering his 15th year of teaching, coaching, and administration at his alma mater. He has taught in the Science, Math, History and P.E. departments, and is often known as “Coach” for his work with middle and upper school basketball, volleyball, and track teams. Chris holds a BS in psychology from UNM and a Master of Arts in teaching from Johns Hopkins. Chris loves all things basketball and spending time outdoors with his wife, Sheena, and son, Aris.
“I feel honored and privileged to work alongside adolescents during the period of growth and change that is the middle school years.”
Upper School Spanish Sheena earned her BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida and spent a semester abroad in Granada, Spain. Sheena’s passion for travel and culture continued after university, when she spent a year traversing ruins and volunteering in Central and South America, led two trips to Costa Rica with high school students from her previous school in Florida, and worked as an Academic Dean for Oxbridge in Barcelona, Spain. Sheena maintains an active lifestyle and enjoys hiking, yoga, and snowboarding.
Latin. Marissa graduated with a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Spanish from the University of Colorado with an emphasis on language acquisition, cultural studies, and educational methods and theories. She has worked in both private and public schools in California and Colorado. Marissa is passionate about traveling and has studied abroad in the Dominican Republic, Spain, Italy, and Costa Rica. She has also led several student international trips. Apart from teaching, Marissa enjoys Salsa dancing, yoga, and spending time with her family. As she enters into her 12th year of teaching, she is excited to be part of the Prep and Santa Fe community.
Breakthrough Santa Fe Co-Director. Allie Cooper graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in global development studies and Spanish. She taught at Breakthrough Santa Fe as a teaching fellow in 2010 and 2012, and she is happy to be back at Prep overseeing Breakthrough’s high school programming.
Performing Arts Department Chair, Acting. Brad holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Boston College and a master’s degree in education from City College of New York. He also graduated from The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, a two-year acting conservatory in New York City. Brad has also worked as a college counselor at Northeastern University, an actor in New York, and has been teaching since 2000.
“The best thing about teaching at Prep is the enthusiasm of our students. Classes are filled with students open and willing to participate in activities, and who respect each other’s work.” -Brad Fairbanks
Associate Director of Technology, Computer Science, Fencing, Speech and Debate. A native New Mexican born in Placitas, Ambrose graduated from Prep in 1993, and earned a BFA in graphic design from Colorado State University. He has worked professionally in the industry for over 15 years as a production artist, designer, art director, web developer, video editor, web standards guru, and copy writer, and he is a stickler for clean, semantic code. In addition to art, design, and code, Ambrose is an accomplished stage actor and working stunt performer.
Director of Studies. Kendel provides guidance and oversees the curriculum in both the upper and middle schools. Kendel has a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion and anthropology from Dartmouth College, and an MTS in comparative religion from Harvard Divinity School. She holds secondary level social studies certification through the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2001 – 2002, she was awarded a Klingenstein Fellowship at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
“Prep students are without a doubt tremendously well-prepared. But what really astounds me is their ability to make things happen! Of course, our students believe in themselves, but what sets Prep students apart is truly knowing they can have an impact and doing so with absolute determination.” -Kendel Fesenmyer
9th/10th Grade Dean of Students, English, M.A. Healy Chair for Teaching Excellence. Liz received a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and her master’s degree from the Bread Loaf School of English. Before coming to Prep, she taught at schools in Boston and San Francisco. She is a native of Western Massachusetts.
“During a recent student-led Honors English discussions, I listened to 18 juniors/seniors who I hadn’t taught since 9th grade. Their depth of analysis and quality of articulation deeply impressed me. It was a great testimony to the teaching going on at Prep.” -Liz Friary
Assistant to the Head of School. A California native, Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from California State University Fullerton. Her professional background is in art and education, and she has worked for public and independent schools in California and New Mexico. Outside of work she enjoys exploring photography, travel and the fine art of cooking.
Registrar. Darlene received her bachelor’s degree in nursing science from Texas Christian University. She practiced nursing in multiple fields, including neonatal intensive care and medical surgical nursing education. She is co-owner of a home design-build company. Her passions include design, reading and gardening. Darlene’s son, Nash, graduated from Prep in 2006.
Operations Manager, Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor. Mel has been at Prep since 1997. Previously he spent seven years at the Pecos River Learning Center as maintenance supervisor. He has been a member of the Carpenters Union since 1997, and enjoys wood working and working on old cars in his spare time.
Geometry, Davis New Mexico Scholarship Assistant. Sarah has a bachelor’s degree in classics from the University of Chicago, and a master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College. She also teaches Latin at Fayette Street Academy. Sarah rowed on a crew team in college and coached for two years after graduating. She has lived in Japan, Texas, Washington State, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, but plans to stay in New Mexico for as long as possible. Though Santa Fe will never have enough water for a rowing team, the mountains and gorgeous weather are hard to beat.
English Department Chair. Leslie started her higher education at the conventional age, majoring in English with concentrations in French and German literature at Wellesley College. She then received an MA from St. John’s College in Santa Fe. In what might most easily be described as a mid-life crisis, she returned to St. John’s at the age of 40 to receive an undergraduate degree in the Great Books program as well, before earning her master’s in English literature at CU Boulder. At Colorado, Leslie co-taught courses in Early American Literature, American Literature and Shakespeare. She is delighted to be back in the Prep community where her two children Griffin (’08) and Hillary (’10) matriculated. Outside of class, you might find her skiing in Taos, hiking with her dog Dexter, or cheering on the Blue Griffins at any sporting event.
Director of Advancement. Kézha is the former associate director of The Yellowstone Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for Yellowstone National Park. She has extensive experience in fundraising, communications, design, organizational development, and in building diverse relationships. Kézha has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies from Mills College and a Master of Science degree in wildlife biology from Montana State University. In her spare time, Kézha volunteers for the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and Project Coyote, and loves to run, hike, and adventure with her twin boys, husband, and three dogs.
Science, Summer Camp Director. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the United States Military Academy, and a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Outside the education field, Jim has served as an army officer and production supervisor for General Motors. When not teaching, Jim enjoys being a private pilot, paragliding, paramotoring, and playing the guitar. His two sons graduated with Prep’s class of 2010 and 2013.
Spanish. Olga is a native of Barcelona, Spain. She received her bachelor’s degree in English philology with a minor in French studies from the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona. While in college, Olga received an Erasmus Grant to study at Roehampton University in London where she lived for three years. Olga also holds a master’s degree in audiovisual translation by the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona. Olga is passionate about traveling and languages. She is fluent in five languages and has studied a total of nine languages, including Russian and Basque.
Music, Chorus, Jazz Band, Chamber Music, Music Theory. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in jazz piano from the University of Miami. Chris has worked as a professional pianist/keyboard player for many jazz, pop, and rock bands, and he performs regularly in Sante Fe with his trio.
Maintenance Department. Mauricio grew up in a large family on a farm in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He has three children.
Assistant to Upper and Middle School Heads. Dina received her bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Indiana University and a graduate degree from St. John’s College. She was a classroom teacher for 25 years. Dina is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with her family, olympic-style weightlifting, and playing banjo.
English. Breshaun is currently a doctoral candidate in the Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies department at the University of New Mexico. Her passion for teaching is matched only by her desire to continually learn how to be a better educator. Her current research explores how students make meaning from Shakespeare’s plays and how her teaching informs or infirms that process. She has taught for nearly twenty years in traditional and non-traditional learning environments from Shakespeare performance summer camps to college classrooms. Breshaun’s personal teaching philosophy is that a person learns best when exposed to new concepts and ideas and is then engaged in enjoyable and critical thinking activities. Ultimately, this leads to enlightenment.
English, Anthropology. Kristin received her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University and her Master of Arts degree in cultural anthropology from California State University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in language, literacy and sociocultural studies. Kristin is a native Santa Fean who enjoys raising her son and daughter here.
Spanish. Bonar received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and International Affairs from the University of Puget Sound, a master’s degree in Latin American Studies with concentrations in History and Literature from the University of New Mexico, and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University’s College of Education. Bonar is a 2003 graduate of Prep and taught both in Montana and Santa Fe before returning to Prep.
Life Science, Biology. Having grown up on a boarding school campus in Colorado, Robin’s teaching career has included experiences in day and boarding schools in England, and most recently, on the north shore of Boston. A graduate of Bowdoin College with an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, Robin received a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Ohio State University. Robin’s passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken her on a variety of student trips, including cultural experiences in Italy and Russia, sea-kayaking in Belize, and rock-climbing in Moab. When not at school, Robin enjoys photography, hiking, yoga, and watching her two sons play college soccer.
Head of School. Jim is entering his 19th year as Head of School at Prep; he also teaches a senior English elective and serves as assistant coach of the boys varsity soccer team. Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Williams College and a master’s in English literature from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Jim has taught at independent schools in Connecticut and Vermont. He and his wife Story have three daughters: Kelsey ’11 now living in New York; Molly ’12 now living in Boston; and Campbell ’20 entering 10th grade at Prep this year.
“Prep challenges all of us to bring our best selves to school each day. I hope the practice of aspiring and achieving here at Prep carries our students forward as they move into college and the wider world.” -Jim Leonard
Director of College Counseling. Story holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College and a Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth. Her 20-year teaching career has taken her from the Pomfret School in Connecticut, where she taught history and coordinated all counseling, to the Mountain School in Vermont, where she served as director of admissions and head of advising and counseling. She has taught history at Prep and currently coaches the girls lacrosse team. Story enjoys all sports and has dedicated herself to establishing and building the sport of lacrosse in New Mexico. She has three daughters, two of whom graduated from Prep.
Physical Education. Joe returns to his alma mater (’97) as a middle school PE teacher and coach (track and field, soccer and basketball). Joe has a BA from Middlebury College where he was a senior track captain. He has been active all his life and has played about every sport, including, cricket in Australia and Rugby in Zimbabwe. He also received Yoga and Anatomy RYT-200 training in Costa Rica with Marianne Wells Yoga School. Joe has taught children and adult movement arts, breath work, yoga, and meditation, and has coached various sports for many years in Santa Fe. Passionate about his hometown community, when Joe is not teaching, you will find him running barefoot in a local race, long-distance trekking in France, or storytelling and teaching yoga in the Santa Fe juvenile detention center.
American Sign Language (ASL). Jamie graduated from Stony Brook University in NY with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. During her time at college, Jaimie began her studies in ASL and Deaf culture. She continued her studies at New York Society for the Deaf and subsequently taught at the Lexington School for the Deaf. After moving to Santa Fe in 1993, she completed her special education certificate and master’s coursework in special education. In 1995 Jaimie started the ASL program at Desert Academy, where she taught both ASL and middle school social studies. Jaimie has two daughters currently in Santa Fe Prep’s class of ‘17.
Associate Director of Admissions, Director of Marketing. Mary received her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Denison University. Her professional background is in art and business administration. Prior to joining Prep, she owned and operated Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works with her husband Kent. In her spare time, she loves to run, bike, ski and share time with her family.
School Archivist. Steve received a BA from Lafayette College, and an MA and PhD from the University of New Mexico. Steve has held a variety of administrative and teaching positions at Prep since 1974. He has taught Spanish and has served as Spanish Department Chair, Assistant Head of School, Director of Admissions, and Head of School (1988-99). Steve retired from teaching in 2012 and is now the school’s archivist.
Rob has taught many courses during his tenure at Prep including AP Physics, AP Environmental Science, Chemistry, and Calculus. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College. Rob currently teaches Robotics, Astronomy, and AP Environmental Science Honors in the upper school.
Upper School Science. Jeff has been teaching high school science and math for 8 years. He received his Bachelors in Chemistry from the University of Montana in Missoula, and a PhD in Chemistry from CU Boulder. Before becoming a teacher, Jeff did research and worked in several science and technology fields, including basic biochemical research on cancer pathways, database design for storage of genetic information, agent-based modeling of large industry supply chains, and quantitative finance. Jeff also received a Masters in Education specializing in teaching remedial math to middle school at-risk students from the College of Santa Fe, and has state educator licenses for teaching secondary Science and Math in New Mexico and Colorado.
Assistant Head of School, Head of Upper School. Suzie received a BA in mathematics and music from Drew University, and an MA and EdM from Columbia University. Before Prep, Suzie worked at schools in Washington, DC and New York. If she is not on campus, she is probably singing, trying new recipes, hiking, or solving a puzzle.
“The Prep community is built on thoughtfulness and trust: we assume the best in each other; we take the time to see and to know each other deeply; we listen with care and respect; we appreciate what each person brings to our community.” -Suzie Matthews
Algebra I, Precalculus. Born and raised in Santa Fe, Kaila received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of New Mexico. Kaila began teaching at UNM and worked in biomedical research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia before returning to Santa Fe to pursue a career in secondary education. Kaila is excited to join the Math Department after tutoring, substituting, assistant-coaching the Speech and Debate team, and planning Prom 2017 at Santa Fe Prep. In addition to math, Kaila loves books, hiking with her dog, baking cakes, and science jokes.
Associate Director of the Library, Instructional Technology. Catherine has bachelor’s degree in geography from San Francisco State University and an MLS from Indiana University. Prior to coming to Prep, Catherine integrated library and technology services at schools in St. Louis and Washington, DC. She has also worked in software development and at independent bookstores from coast to coast. In her free time, Catherine enjoys reading, tennis, and being outside.
Front Office Manager. Anna is a Native of Nambé Pueblo. She was trained in Food & Beverage and Restaurant Management, and is also certified in Culinary Arts. She was a professional chef for several years and Assistant Manager of a 5-star restaurant in Princeville, Kauai. Prior to joining the front office at Prep in 2007, she served as the Executive Assistant to the Governor of Nambé Pueblo. Anna has a work history of office management, and has held several executive assistant positions. She loves to spend time making jewelry, beading, cardmaking and cake decorating. Her son is a graduate from Prep’s class of 2012.
Maintenance Department. John is a native Santa Fean whose family owns Cordelia’s Restaurant. An avid bowler, he is also a devoted dad to two daughters and a son.
Director of Admissions. Michael graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in education and social science and earned his master’s degree from St. John’s College. He helped launch Breakthrough Santa Fe on the Prep campus and served as the program’s founding director for eight years. Prior to Prep, Michael spent 10 years teaching in northern New Mexico.
History, Global Studies. Dan has been teaching at Prep for 13 years. His primary class is 8th grade Global Studies and he has also taught multiple history courses in the upper shool. Dan received his bachelor’s degree with a double major in communications and theater arts from Metropolitan State College in Denver. Prior to becoming a teacher, he was a theatrical lighting designer and worked at such places as the Santa Fe Opera and the Denver Center Theater Company. His passion is traveling and he has been fortunate to have traveled and lived extensively throughout the world.
“Some of the best things about teaching at Prep are the creative, compassionate colleagues, working in a beautiful environment, and teaching students who are engaged, creative and fun.” -Dan Murray
Spanish, Breakthrough Student Support Coordinator. Marvin graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in foreign language education and Spanish literature. He has assumed various roles in the field of education with particular emphasis in access to opportunity. A jack-of-all-trades, Marvin delves into a variety of hobbies including dancing, acting, running, traveling, and writing.
7th Grade New Mexico History, Service & Environmental Learning Assistant. Lisa graduated from The Colorado College with a degree in Southwest Studies, earned her NM K-12 teaching certification at the University of New Mexico, and has completed many graduate level courses in a variety of Southwestern topics. A native Santa Fean from a family of educators, Lisa has taught and tutored in public and private schools locally. Lisa has worked in the museum world as well: as a field researcher in northern New Mexico with the School for Advanced Research; as an educator at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; and in the development of educational programs for the New Mexico History Museum. Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, especially exploring the outdoors.
Math, Director of EE Ford Summer Teachers’ Colloquium. Drew earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire, and his master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College. He is also a CPA. Prior to joining Prep, he taught at the Academy for Technology and the Classics and at Waynflete School in Portland, Maine. When not in the classroom, Drew enjoys gardening, hiking, cooking and time with his wife.
“Prep is a positive community of passionate learners where all are given the tools they need to succeed and the space to do so.” -Drew Nucci
MS 2-D Art, Drawing, Painting, Publications, Art History. Alex grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma. He attended undergraduate school at Cameron University, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, magna cum laude, with a focus on drawing and printmaking. Alex received his M.A. in Studio Arts and Art History, and a Master of Fine Art with a specialty in Printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was an Advanced Opportunity Fellow.
Alex has taught at several college institutions including the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has worked at several professional and non-profit galleries and interned to become a Master Printmaker at Tandem Press in Madison, Wisconsin where he was able to collaborate with international artists. Alex maintains an active studio art practice working across media including drawing, painting, printmaking, and ceramics. He shows his work locally, nationally, and in Russia, China, and Japan. Alex has artwork in several private and public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe Art Institute, Southern Graphics Council, Chazen Museum of Art, and The Museum of Indian Art and Culture.
Alex’s work has been included in several publications along with writings about his art by Art Historians and Critics. He is an occasional contributor and exhibition critic for First American Art, a periodical devoted to the arts of North and South America.
Math Department Chair, Algebra I and II, Precalculus, Statistics. Aiyana received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education from the College of Santa Fe. Aiyana has taught at Santa Fe Prep for 10 years. In addition, she has taught at the Rio Grande School, The Institute of American Indian Arts, Ortiz Middle School, and Santa Fe High.
Russell Spinney, PhDrspinney@sfprep.org
World History. Russell is a world and US history instructor and the head of the history department at Santa Fe Prep. Russell graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor’s degree in history, German and Japanese studies. He earned his master’s degree from Middlebury College in German studies and his PhD in modern German history from Pennsylvania State University with additional academic work at the Humboldt University in Berlin and a research fellowship at the USC Shoah Foundation. Russell taught history and English at the Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, lectured at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and worked with at-risk youth in the Baltimore public school and juvenile justice system through Community Law In Action to help them advocate for themselves in the legal system and in their communities, particularly through urban farming. Based on his Ph.D. research, Russell co-founded the Emotion Studies Network for the German Studies Association, and is currently working on a new co-authored book on the history of emotions in German studies from 1500 to the present. At Prep, Russell has been the faculty advisor for the Model UN, writing, and a capella clubs, and he facilitates the Convergence TAP, which brings together students from all over Santa Fe to help create more opportunities for youth in the city, especially for young writers, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. When he is not teaching, Russell loves gardening, cooking, yoga, singing, hiking, camping and soccer.
On Sabbatical. Coco graduated from Carleton College with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a focus on classical and medieval literature and history. She received her master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe. Coco previously taught literature, history and philosophy at a charter high school in Idaho. Her first job out of college was as a cowgirl running cattle in Montana.
Mathematics, Chess Coach. After earning his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brandeis University, Joey embarked on a career as a professional artist and glassblower. He studied glass art at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Pilchuck Glass School, before following his future wife out to New Mexico in 2003. After building and operating a glass shop and gallery in Pojoaque, Joey returned to his first love of philosophy and academia, teaching math and chess at Pojoaque Valley Middle School. Joey is an amateur scientist, proud nerd, voracious reader, gardening enthusiast, and chess fanatic who enjoys backpacking and skiing the mountains of New Mexico.
Biology. Marc is a native of Connecticut and began his career as an educator/mentor while working as an aid in the Philadelphia public schools while completing his undergraduate studies. Marc went on to learn and teach at a wilderness skills program in Connecticut before turning to Environmental Outdoor Education for Nature’s Classroom at various locations in New England. After completing a master’s degree in environmental ecology and working with endangered species of amphibians, Marc worked at independent schools in Connecticut and Virginia, where he taught science, coached lacrosse, and started wilderness mentoring programs. When he is not connecting to students, Marc enjoys working on wilderness skills, fermenting anything, and wandering to new places.
Davis New Mexico Scholarship Director, History. Sam graduated from Carleton College with a degree in history and religion before moving to Santa Fe, where he worked for the organization Citizen Schools at De Vargas Middle School while receiving his Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley University. Sam is excited to return to Prep after serving as a Breakthrough Santa Fe summer teaching intern in 2007 and 2009. Outside of school, Sam likes to play music and enjoy the great outdoors.
Learning Specialist, Director of Multicultural Life. Claire earned a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in learning disabilities from the University of New Mexico. Claire has participated in extensive training in neurodevelopment and learning differences and completed an internship at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She has worked as a trainer in teacher education programs in Central and South America, and is a former national faculty member of Schools Attuned. A lifetime resident of New Mexico, Claire has worked in public, pueblo, and private school settings as a teacher and as an administrator. Claire is the mother of Sofia Bomse ’18.
P.E. Department Chair, School Health Coordinator. Rennae has a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education and has taught PE at Prep since the fall of 1990. Over the course of her career at Prep, Rennae has been a soccer and dance coach, and has seen teams through 3 State Soccer Championships and 2 State Dance Championships. Rennae is a certified official for the NMOA in the sports of spirit, swimming, and track and field, and spends many weekends officiating high school athletics. Rennae is also a long-time member of the Ilfeld Volunteer Fire Department.
Director of Service and Environmental Learning. Eric has more than 25 years experience working with children in academic and outdoor education programs. He has taught at Rowland Hall St. Marks School in Utah and Proctor Academy in New Hampshire. He has also led Outward Bound programs in the US and Australia. He received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences from Cornell University and his master’s degree in humanities from St. John’s College.
Spanish. Jessica Ryan has been teaching high school Spanish for over ten years. She earned her B.A. at Plymouth State University, where she double majored in Spanish and secondary teacher certification and earned a minor in French. She earned her M.A. in Spanish linguistics at Middlebury College. In addition to working with her students, Jessica is very involved in animal rescue. She has completed extensive research in feline ethology and has begun an online course in canine behavior and psychology. In her free time, Jessica travels, studies Mandarin and Italian, dances Argentine tango, is active in yoga, and is working through an online course to become certified in TESOL/TEFL.
Director of Finance. Bruce holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from American University in Washington, DC, and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. He has been in accounting and finance for over twenty years with a wide range of companies.
Ceramics, Experimental Media, 3D Studio and New Media. Laura is a visual artist who has been based in Santa Fe for over twenty years. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally, and her work is included in numerous private and public collections, including the New Mexico Museum of Art. Laura received her Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College and her Master of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Art in New York City. She teaches from the perspective that process matters as much as result and believes that through art, students develop confidence, personal expressiveness and technical skills which aid them throughout their many future pursuits.
Middle School P.E., Health, Head Track and Field Coach, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Assistant Cross Country Coach, Assistant Swim Coach. Tove has been a coach and personal trainer in the private sector since 1994. She has also been a member of eight US triathlon/duathlon teams and is a 3-time All American in these disciplines. She joined the coaching staff of SFP in 1998 and has a BA in physical education.
Jenn received a Bachelor’s of Arts in psychology from North Central University, Minneapolis, MN. Her professional background is in Property Casualty Underwriting Insurance and clothing tech design. Jenn spends her free time with family and friends enjoying the beautiful outdoor life in New Mexico.
English. A Native of central Texas, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Service from Baylor University and a Master of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. She worked in the field of international security before transitioning to fiction-writing. She has taught literature and fiction at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) since 2006. Her novel, Out There, won the 2015 Indiefab Editor’s Choice Award for Fiction. Sarah is the mother of four wonderful children: Caroline, Helen, Liza and Jack. When she is not writing or reading or playing legos, you may find her in her garden. Sarah is currently a Writer-in-Residence at the historic El Zaguán. She is completing a new novel entitled Finding Michael Finnegan.
English, Griffin Chair For Inspirational Teaching. A member of the English faculty at Prep, Alan pursued undergraduate studies at North Carolina State University, taught composition at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at Santa Fe Community College as a developmental writing tutor. He earned his master’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College while writing food, business, environmental, and biographical articles as a free-lance journalist for The New Mexican, other local publications, and national venues. In his free time, he enjoys attempting to play Baroque recorder sonatas.
“When I continually look down to avoid the stones on the road, I miss the sunset.” -Br. Alan Taylor
Photography. Born in 1957 in Embudo, New Mexico, Don Usner grew up in Los Alamos and Chimayó, New Mexico. He earned a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz and soon after co-authored his first book, The Natural History of Big Sur, published by the University of California Press.
Don returned to New Mexico in 1988 to complete an M.A. in Geography at the University of New Mexico, then wrote Sabino’s Map: Life in Chimayó’s Old Plaza (Museum of New Mexico Press, 1995). He has since written and provided photographs for several more books, including Órale: Custom Made in New Mexico (2016); Chasing Dichos through Chimayó (2014); and Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve (1996) (winner of a Southwest Book Award in 1996).
Don has also published many articles and photographs in magazines and other serial publications. Recent public exhibitions of Don’s photography include prints in the show “Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico” at the New Mexico History Museum; and in “Con Cariño: Artists Inspired by Lowriders,” at the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Don teaches photography and works as a writer and photographer in Santa Fe as he cultivates his lifelong interest in cultural and natural history. He was named a New Mexico Luminaria by the New Mexico Community Foundation in 2013, an award given to New Mexicans who “motivate, inspire and support the dreams of others, promote diversity and equity, and build community strength through their leadership and vision.”
“There’s a saying that ‘You teach best what you need to learn the most,’ and that certainly applies to me and my photography teaching. The corollary applies as well: ‘And you are your own worst student.’ I find that teaching at Prep sharpens my skills and students inspire me with their creative abilities and insights.” -Don Usner
Business Office Manager. Christella is originally from Velarde, New Mexico. She has 15+ years accounting experience, primarily from working at large-scale construction companies in the Santa Fe and Los Alamos areas. She has two daughters.
Pre-Calculus Honors, AB Calculus, Advanced Math Topics. Ashley received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Teaching from Rice University. Before joining Prep, she taught at St. John’s School in Houston, TX, as well as for the School Year Abroad program in Viterbo, Italy.
Language Department Chair, Spanish. Anna has an undergraduate degree from Brown University in comparative literature and a graduate degree from St. John’s College. She spent two semesters as a student at Prep when her family was on sabbatical here in Santa Fe. Anna also studied for a year abroad in Barcelona.
English. Rob is the author of a novel, NICKEL (Leaf Storm Press), and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink, both published by Delacorte Press.
A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition.
“Change happens in the classroom.” -Rob Wilder
Co-Director, Breakthrough Santa Fe, Spanish. Talia received a Bachelor of Science in Spanish from Georgetown University and holds a Masters in Education with a bilingual certificate from Loyola Marymount University. She first worked with Breakthrough at Kent Denver School, and co-founded and continues to be involved with a preschool in La Paz, Bolivia.
U.S. History, Middle Eastern Studies, Kathryn Wasserman Davis Chair for U.S. History. Nick graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and North American affairs from Colorado College. He received licensor training at the College of Santa Fe and taught in the Santa Fe Public Schools before coming to Prep.
Mandarin Teacher. Born and raised in Santa Fe, Julianne began her Mandarin study in 1992 at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. She later transferred to Shanghai Foreign Language University to study Mandarin and Chinese history. In Shanghai, she worked as a translator and cultural liaison for several transnational businesses, but found her true passion in language teaching and cultural exchange when invited to help establish an English-Chinese bilingual program at Peigen School Kindergarten, in Dalian, China. Julianne has taught Mandarin to students in Santa Fe since 2001 while raising her two beloved boys.
Associate Director of College Counseling. Matt is from the notable, no-stoplight town of Altamont, Kansas, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in comparative studies in race and ethnicity. During college, he studied abroad in Switzerland, Russia and Germany, interned at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, coordinated a scholarship competition and helped run the Stanford Powwow. Following graduation, Matt worked as a college admission counselor at Stanford and Caltech, often supplementing his experience by collaborating with College Horizons, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Questbridge, and other programs supporting college access and retention for students from low-income, first-generation and minority backgrounds. In addition to working with Story Leonard in College Counseling, he also coaches baseball.