Faculty & Staff Directory

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Rebecca Allahyari


Learning Specialist, Grades 10-12. Rebecca has a BA in political science from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research Methods from the University of California, Davis. She has taught anthropology, religious studies, and American Studies courses at various universities and has recently been a tutor and then Associate Director of the Library at Santa Fe Prep. Rebecca completed a six-year term on the Santa Fe Public Library Advisory Board. Her son Jeremy Brooks graduated from Prep in 2014, and her daughter Lila Brooks in 2015.


Joseph Armijo

Lunch Program Prep Cook. A local from New Mexico, Joseph grew up in a small village named Wagon Mound and has worked in Santa Fe since 2007. He worked with the hospital for over 12 years, but his experience in food service started with working alongside his mother in the kitchen at a private school in Valmora, NM. Joseph also enjoys spending time with his two children, Cheyenne and Jeremiah, outdoors, fishing, and enjoying the beautiful days in Santa Fe!

Summar Aubrey


Associate Director of Admissions, Co-Director of Tuition Assistance, Director of the EE Ford Summer Teachers’ Colloquium. Summar Aubrey was born and raised in Santa Fe and graduated from Santa Fe Prep in 2000. She earned her BA in History from Yale University and her MA in Teaching Social Studies from Columbia University, Teachers College. Summar returned to Prep in 2019 after working in education in California for many years. She was Dean of Students at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, Director of Student Life for the Stanford University Online High School, and taught world history while serving as the Assistant Director of the Middle School at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. Summar loves exploring New Mexico with her family and is well practiced in the art of camping with kids under 5.


Eduardo Beltran

Lunch Program Chef. Originally from Mexico City, Eduardo moved to the US in 2000 and began working as a sous-chef at Crown Plaza, San Marcos, and Italian Rustic Restaurant in Chandler, Arizona. In 2010, he moved to Santa Fe, where he managed the Body Cafe Restaurant for two years, followed by working as a Chef and Event Captain for Walter Burke Catering, where he has been for the last 12 years. He has recently worked in Prep’s maintenance department for five years. However, Eduardo’s true calling and passion are in the kitchen, where he is skilled in preparing Sushi, Italian, American, and traditional and gourmet Mexican cuisine.


Marta Beltran

Lunch Program Pastry Sous Chef. Originally from Mexico City, Marta has extensive experience as a line cook , sous chef, and pastry chef. Marta immigrated to the United States in 2000, where she worked at Ocotillo Golf Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, for ten years. In 2012, she moved to Santa Fe, where she worked at Body Cafe and the original Second Street for five years. More recently, and prior to joining Prep in 2023, Marta worked at Geronimo Restaurant and Tesuque Village Market.


Yesi Bermejo


Middle School Program Manager, Breakthrough Santa Fe. Yesi graduated from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, with a degree in English Language Literature, in 2019. She spent four years working with Communities in Schools supporting elementary-aged students at Nina Otero Community School. Yesi returned to her home base with the knowledge of five summers as a teaching fellow and the experience of working in the public school system. As a Davis NM Scholar and Breakthrough alumnus, she hopes to be a trustworthy support to students and families.


Mark Bixby


Dean of Students, 11th Grade Class Sponsor, History Teacher. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Master of Arts in liberal arts from St. John’s College.  Mark teaches the 11th-grade U.S. History course that covers the colonial period through WWII.  The class offers a wide variety of instructional materials, including traditional text, primary and secondary source scholarship, as well as fiction, essays, podcasts, etc.  As the students are kids of the Southwest, the class also includes a great deal of regional history and current events discussion to further connect them to the problems and possibilities of their home region.


Chris Border

Mathematics Department Chair, Geometry, C-I. Chris received a master’s degree in physics from the University of Washington and a subsequent master’s in teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast. Prior to joining Prep, he taught mathematics and science in remote Alaska, Hawaii, and, most recently, Washington. Outside of the classroom, Chris enjoys travel, astronomy, cooking, photography, and hiking.

Juli Bray-Morris


School Counselor. For over 20 years, Juli has offered counseling services in community organizations and schools in Santa Fe. With a masters in Counseling Psychology: Expressive Art Therapy from Prescott College, she discovered a love of working with adolescents and their families. She spent the past 15 years at a charter school and found the work to be dynamic, meaningful, and never boring. Her worldview and perspective arise from her experiences as a child in Papua New Guinea and six years living in the Navajo Nation. She is grateful for trees, pools, books, friends, her large extended family, and, in particular, her three children and their partners.


Hayley Burke


Co-Director of College Counseling. After graduating from Bryn Mawr as a sociology major, Hayley stayed on to pursue her Master of Social Work degree from Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. While at Bryn Mawr, Hayley was surrounded by extraordinary women who pushed her to become a strong advocate against social inequity and injustice. Working towards this goal, she co-founded a reading and writing group for local incarcerated women. She recommitted to this mission of making higher ed more accessible by serving as an Admission Counselor at Pitzer College in Claremont, California for five years. Hayley loves to travel, and spends much of her time subtly sending plane ticket deals from Scott’s Cheap Flights to her friends. Her dream destinations include Greece, Montana, Spain, Chile and Mexico City. Outside of work, Hayley is an avid beach-goer and fearlessly experimental baker.


David Caldwell


Assistant Athletic Director, Middle School Athletics Director, Varsity Swim Coach, Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Middle School PE teacher. Dave received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from James Madison University. His professional background is in coaching. Dave has coached for over 30 years at the club, high school, and college levels in multiple sports. The NFHS named Dave the Women’s National Coach of the Year for swimming and diving 2017-2018. Dave enjoys his free time biking and spending time with his family.


Chris Chakeres


7th Grade Science and Upper School Neuroscience. A 1994 graduate of Prep, Chris holds a BS in Psychology from the University of New Mexico and an MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Chris is in his 21st year at Prep and has previously taught in the Science department: teaching Life Science and Biology for a decade in the mid-2000s. Chris loves teaching science, given its relevance to our lives, and he loves how curious, concerned for our planet, and comical Prep students are! Outside the classroom, Chris and his family explore New Mexico’s wilderness and plan their next travels.



Marissa Chrysler


PE, Health, Life Skills. 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 is also currently completing a master’s in clinical mental health. Marissa 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 international student trips. Apart from teaching, Marissa enjoys Salsa dancing, yoga, and spending time with her family.


Jocelyne Comstock


Upper School Science. Jocelyne has been teaching middle and high school science for 21 years. She holds a bachelor’s in Natural Sciences from UHH in Hawaii, with a minor in Earth and Space; a master’s level secondary science teaching certificate also from UHH; and a masters in Earth Science from UNC in Colorado. Her research involved describing an extraterrestrial impact structure (crater) located near Peerless, Montana, that formed ~430 mya.  Jocelyne has a Level II secondary science teaching license with the state of New Mexico and previously held a professional teaching license in Colorado. Jocelyne teaches 11th-grade Physics in both a regular class format and a more accelerated honors class format.  She also teaches an 11th/12th grade elective in Earth Sciences on Natural Disasters and a 12th grade elective in AP Physics 2.


Ellee Cook


Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, Botany, 9th Grade Class Sponsor, and JV Volleyball Coach. Ellee Cook (Dr. E) is an academically trained scientist with a passion for science education. Ellee graduated from Santa Fe Prep in 2009 and returned to campus in 2019 to teach science. She holds a BS (Trinity University) and a Ph.D. (University of Missouri) in Biological Sciences. Outside the classroom, Ellee enjoys historical fiction, green chile, and trips to the mountains-preferably on horseback!


Lis Desmond


P.E., Middle School Track and Field Coach. Lis has taught and coached middle and high school students for 19 years. Lis grew up in the Chicago area and attended St. Lawrence University in Upstate New York. Upon graduation, Lis immediately moved to Santa Fe to pursue her interests in outdoor education and the visual arts. She is a certified USA Triathlon coach of a youth triathlon and track and field team outside of school, and she also holds certification as a USAT Level 1, USATF Level 2, and ASCA level 1 swim coach. Not only does Lis enjoy teaching and coaching kids, but she is also a five-time Ironman competitor, former river guide, expeditionary backpacking leader, and a motivated athlete. When Lis isn’t running around with the P.E. students at school, she can be found running around some more with her husband, daughter, and two rambunctious dogs.


Cheney Doane


Music, Girls Varsity Volleyball Coach. Cheney graduated magna cum laude from Whitman College with a degree in Piano Performance and later completed his master’s work at the University of Utah. While in Utah, Cheney worked as the pianist for the University’s choirs and also served as assistant music director for the Musical Theater Program. Cheney has played in summer programs in Italy and Germany and performed dozens of solo and collaborative recitals stateside. Most recently, Cheney was the co-chair of the Fine Arts department at Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, Virginia, where he directed the choirs and orchestras in the upper and middle schools while also serving as music director for the winter musicals. When he’s not at the piano, you can find Cheney throwing a frisbee, playing chess, dreaming about Vienna, or playing basketball.


Jennifer Dryfoos


Registrar. Jennifer moved from New York City to Santa Fe in 1998 when she first worked at Santa Fe Prep as College Counselor.  After twenty five years in that field (including at Monte del Sol in Santa Fe and Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in Albuquerque) and many years as Registrar at Desert Academy, she is thrilled to be returning to Santa Fe Prep in a new capacity. Jennifer has an undergraduate degree from Smith College and a master’s degree from Harvard University.


Marián Giráldez Elizo


Spanish. Marián received her bachelor’s degree in English philology from the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid. She also holds a M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics and a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from the University of New Mexico, with a focus on vocabulary learning in Spanish as a Second Language and Spanish as a Heritage Language. Marián has extensive experience teaching at both, high school and university level. She is originally from Madrid, Spain, but has lived in New Mexico since 2008. As part of her hobbies Marián enjoys spending time with family and friends, travelling, hiking and exploring new places.


Bradford Fairbanks


Performing Arts Department Chair, Acting, Advanced Drama, Musical Theater, Fall Play and Musical Director. 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.


Ambrose Ferber


Associate Director of Technology, Technology and Engineering Department Chair, Acting, 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 worked professionally for over 15 years as a production artist, designer, art director, web developer, video editor, web standards guru, and copywriter before becoming a teacher— but now can’t imagine doing anything else. In addition to art, design, and code, Ambrose is an accomplished stage actor and working stunt performer.


Kendel Fesenmyer


Director of Studies, History Department Chair. As the Director of Studies, Kendel oversees curriculum and educational policy in the middle and upper schools and coordinates faculty professional development. Before arriving at Prep, she taught in Massachusetts at Lexington High School and Northfield Mount Hermon School, and before becoming the Director of Studies, she was a teacher in the History Department at Prep. Kendel attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College (B.A.), and Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S.). While at Harvard, she completed educational coursework and teaching licensure through the Program in Religion and Secondary Education, a collaborative program between the Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In 2001–2002, she was awarded a prestigious Klingenstein Fellowship to study curriculum and education policy at The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College Columbia University. She has two children: AJ, Prep class of 2021, and Emery, Prep class of 2024.


Patrick Firme

ROCA Program Coordinator, Grand Poohba, Middle School Assistant Soccer Coach, Middle School Assistant Girls Basketball Coach, Tutor, Middle School Boys Basketball Coach. 

Originally from Michigan City, Indiana, Patrick has lived in New Mexico since 2019. He has a BA in Theatre Arts from Beloit College. He worked in admissions at Southwestern University, where he recruited students from the Davis Mexico Scholarship, Santa Fe Prep, and New Mexico as a whole. Patrick was previously the Associate Director of College Counseling at UWC-USA in Montezuma, NM. Outside of work, Patrick performs improv comedy in Santa Fe with his group, The Faculty Lounge, and teaches improv to adults. He is on a quest to try every type of apple cultivar.


Liz Friary


9th/10th Grade Dean of Students,  English 12, 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 Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. She taught at schools in San Francisco and Boston before making Santa Fe her home. While a proud native of Western Massachusetts, Liz loves the culture, landscape, and sense of place of northern New Mexico and is happily raising her daughter Rachel here in Santa Fe.


Melissa Fricek


Executive 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, hiking, and cooking.


Joseph Gonzales

Facilities Staff.


Debra Gonzales


Accounts Payable Manager, Booster Board. Debra is originally from Española and has a large extended northern New Mexico family. She recently retired from the Children, Youth, and Families Department with the State of New Mexico. At CYFD, Debra supported child care, pre-kindergarten, and food and nutrition programs in several capacities, including Background Check Manager and Audit and Policy Manager. She has two daughters. Nicole is a current Prep student, and Raelyn is a Prep graduate of the class of 2021.


Anna Hastings


Front Office Manager. Anna holds a BA in Art History. She has three children who are Prep Alum and one child currently attending Prep. In her free time, Anna loves gardening, hiking, and reading.


Tom Mix Hill


World History. Tom holds a B.A. in history from Pitzer College and an M.A. in social science and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, where he taught for five years during his doctorate training. He has worked in the New Mexico public schools and internationally in China and has 10 + years of teaching experience at the secondary level. Tom has taught both general world history and AP world history. Historical knowledge and thinking, in his view, are essential for navigating today’s complex world. In addition to content knowledge, Tom’s classes focus on foundational skills like essay-based writing and public speaking, evaluating evidence, and understanding how the past shapes the present and future. Tom enjoys hanging out with his dog, riding horses, cooking, listening to music, and reading.


Dieu Ho


Executive Director of Breakthrough Santa Fe. Dieu holds a bachelor’s degree in Government and Music with a minor in Spanish from Bowdoin College. After college, she worked in college admissions at Bates and Bowdoin Colleges before pursuing her master’s degree in Higher Education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She spent two years working in college counseling in Boston before transitioning to Breakthrough. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Dieu is excited to return to the Southwest to explore the desert and mountains, eat lots of green chile, and work alongside students and families in Santa Fe!


Gerardo Horta

Facilities Staff. Originally from Santa Fe, Gerardo was raised in Aguas Calientes, Mexico. Before joining the maintenance department at Prep, he spent many years working in landscaping. Gerardo is also currently continuing his education at the SFCC.

Mauricio Jaime-Andrade

Operations Manager. Mauricio grew up in a large family on a farm in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He has three children.


Dina Jansen


Global Studies. Dina received her bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Indiana University and a graduate degree from St. John’s College. She continues to take classes and is currently working towards adding a special education endorsement to her New Mexico teacher’s license. Dina has been a classroom teacher for 25 years, teaching history, health, and English courses. She has also worked as part of the administrative team at Santa Fe Prep and eventually decided to transition back to the classroom because she missed teaching. In addition, Dina is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and running.


Breshaun Joyner


English 8. Breshaun has a master’s in Children’s Literature and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies department at the University of New Mexico. Her current research explores Shakespeare pedagogy across multiple grades. She has taught for nearly twenty years in traditional and non-traditional learning environments from Shakespeare performance summer camps for Kindergarten students to college classrooms. Breshaun is also a Reader at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., which houses the world’s largest collection of printed works of William Shakespeare. Her passion for teaching is matched only by her desire to continually learn how to be a better educator. 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.


Rachel Kesler


History, 12th Grade Class Sponsor, DEIJ Coordinator. Rachel Kesler grew up in Flagstaff,  Arizona, before moving to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. There, she graduated with honors in History and a double major in Native American Studies, and much of her work focused on oral histories and 20th-century Native American History. Since then, she’s worked at Choate Rosemary Hall and the Thacher School, teaching United States History, American Government, Native American Studies, and a host of other electives. She lives with her cats, Goose and Luna, and enjoys running, hiking, mountain biking, cooking, reality TV, and reading in her free time.


Jean “Parka” Kithil


Assistant to Director of Athletics, Coach. Originally from Rye, New York, Parka grew up sailing competitively and rowing crew on the Long Island Sound. In 1965, she earned a Bachelor of Science in physical education from Skidmore College and lived for a time in Alaska before settling with her husband, Philip, in Santa Fe.

With over 50 years in under her belt at Prep, Parka still works part-time in the Athletics Department. On any given day, she might be found painting lines on the field ahead of a soccer game, ordering uniforms, organizing materials in the athletics archives, or leading swim lessons in Middle School PE a program she founded and has run since 1985. And when not at Prep, she leads an exceptionally active personal life.


Todd Kurth


Director of Athletics.  Todd has been a classroom teacher (math and biology) and multi-sport coach for over thirty years in both day and boarding schools in New Hampshire, the D.C. area, the United Kingdom, and New Mexico. He has coached football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, baseball, and diving. In 2001, he was named the New Mexico State Coach of the Year for soccer. Todd serves on the New Mexico Activities Association by-laws committee and has acted as District Chairman throughout his career. Born and raised in Santa Fe, he was valedictorian for the class of 1981 at Santa Fe Prep and received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Williams College. Todd is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast.


Zoe Ledbetter


Integrated Math I, MS Robotics, Principles of Engineering. Zoe earned her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland. After college, she moved to Kentucky to help build a chemical agent destruction pilot plant. Her love for New Mexico brought her to Santa Fe in 2015. After several years working at LANL, she decided to pursue a more meaningful career that aligns with her true passion – inspiring kids to find excitement and joy in math and engineering. In her free time, Zoe enjoys working on her house, being outside, snuggling with her cats, traveling, and spending time with her family.


Sarah Meghan Lee


Darkroom photography, yearbook, 3D art. Sarah holds a history degree from Stanford University and an MA in Media Studies from San Diego State University.  She worked as a professional photojournalist for about 20 years with The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times based in Rwanda, Africa, and Mexico City, Mexico.  She has taught photography at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops, National Geographic Expeditions, and the University of California at San Diego Extension.  Sarah’s hobbies are hiking, backpacking and swimming.


Hanna Levin


Deputy Director, Davis New Mexico Scholarship. A staunch advocate for public and equitable education (and a true education nerd), Hanna has spent the last decade working with or on behalf of youth and educators. Before joining the Davis New Mexico Scholarship team in 2020, she spent five years in the Bay Area leading national data collection, analysis, and dissemination efforts at Breakthrough Collaborative. In her current role, she is focused on network building with college access professionals across the state. Hanna holds a B.A. in sociology from Pomona College.


Mary Little


Director of Admissions and Marketing. Originally from Connecticut, Mary made the trip west after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Denison University. She joined the admissions office at Santa Fe Prep in 2012. Mary points to the energy on campus, the tight-knit community, and the wide variety of academic and extracurricular opportunities available to students as school strengths. She enjoys meeting with prospective students and families as they explore middle and upper school options in Santa Fe. In addition to her work in admissions, Mary also serves as Director of Marketing. Mary’s professional background is in business administration and management. Prior to joining Prep, Mary owned and operated Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works with her husband, Kent. Mary and Kent have two children, both of whom graduated from Santa Fe Prep. Mary loves to run, hike, ski, and share time with her family in her spare time.


Adam Lowenstein


Upper School English. Adam was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he studied English at UCLA at the undergraduate and graduate levels, earning his Ph.D. in 2011. After lecturing in the UCLA English Department, Adam began working at Marlborough School, an all-girls independent middle and high school in LA, mainly teaching 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English. While at Marlborough, Adam completed a yearlong mindfulness teacher training course with iBme (Inward Bound Mindfulness Education) and began leading twice-weekly drop-in community meditation sessions and offering several workshops to students and employees. In 2022, Adam and his wife, Shenee, and two kiddos, Atticus and Margot, made the move to Santa Fe, a city they fell in love with while on a road trip in 2020. Adam feels very fortunate to be a part of the Santa Fe Prep community as a 9th-grade English teacher (and occasional mindfulness instructor).


Leza Lowitz


Assistant to the Division Heads. Leza has a B.A. in English Literature from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has been an Administrative Assistant for years to support her writing habit and feed her need for organization. Leza is an award-winning author of over twenty books in multiple genres and has been an invited speaker at literary festivals and events in the U.S., Japan, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the UAE. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun, Art in America, the Asahi Evening News, and more. She lived in Japan for over 20 years, where she ran a yoga studio and taught yoga and mindfulness to thousands of students, including Fortune 500 company executives and Hollywood A-Listers. She also taught writing at the University of Tokyo.


Oscar Loya


Student Support Coordinator, Breakthrough Santa Fe. Oscar grew up between Santa Fe and Benito Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Oscar was a Breakthrough Santa Fe student from 2013 to 2019 and returned as a teaching fellow in the summer of 2021. He attended the United World College USA (’19) and Lawrence University (’23) as a Davis New Mexico Scholar. Oscar earned his BA in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology and a minor in East Asian Studies. Oscar is overjoyed to be back in his home community of Breakthrough and empowering students of similar backgrounds.


Jennifer MacDonald


Library Assistant. Jen is originally from Massachusetts and has lived in Santa Fe for the past 16 years. She received her BS in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut. After working as a pharmacist, Jen has most recently been working and volunteering in Santa Fe schools. In her free time, Jen enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling (especially to beaches) with her husband, Rob, and their three daughters: Kelly (class of ’26), Audrey (’27), and Nicole (’29).


Gabriella Masoni


World History 1. Born in Rome and raised in Washington, DC, and Paris, Gabriella holds a BA from the American University of Paris, an MA in humanities from California State University, plus International Baccalaureate and Academic Language certifications. Fluent in Italian and French, Gabriella’s international experience honors her students’ uniqueness with a cultural diversity perspective. Her dedication as an educator embraces Prep’s student-centered mission: empowering self-advocacy, sparking curiosity through exploration, and fostering academic skills with confidence. When not in school, Gabriella’s passions are family, friends, reading, skiing, and planning her next Greek island vacation.


Catherine McKenzie


Director of Library Services, Instructional Technologist. Catherine has a BA in geography from San Francisco State University and an MLS from Indiana University. Prior to coming to Santa Fe Prep, Catherine directed library and technology services at schools in St. Louis and Washington, DC. She has also worked in software development and at independent bookstores in St. Louis and Atlanta. Catherine is currently serving on the AISL board as secretary. In her free time, Catherine enjoys reading, tennis, and being outside.


Michael McNeill


Director of Advancement.  Michael holds a MA and PhD in French Literature from Princeton University as well as a BA from Colgate University and has vast experience in independent schools as a teacher of French and Latin both in NYC and in Denver, Colorado where he served as foreign language department chair at Kent Denver School.  Michael became the Director of Development at Kent Denver in 2006 and grew a successful career as an advancement professional and non-profit fundraiser for The American School in Paris, The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and La Napoule Art Foundation.  Michael has also served on many non-profit boards, including: Breakthrough Kent Denver; The Art Students League of Denver; The Anchor Center for Blind Children; and The Joshua School for Autistic Children.  When not at work, Michael enjoys cooking and baking, playing classical piano, and doing crossword puzzles with his two standard poodles, Walter and Bill.


John Montoya


Lunch Program Staff. John has worked at Santa Fe Prep since 1988. After 33 years in the maintenance department, John retired at the end of the 2022 school year. Since then, John returned to the Prep community as a part-time kitchen staff member.


Matt Mullins


Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Art History, 3D art. Matt earned his master’s in Fine Arts from UC Berkeley, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with Department Distinctions. While at UC Berkeley, he received the prestigious Eisner Prize for Visual Art and was named as a Fellow of the Arts Research Center. He taught Painting, Drawing, and Introduction to Visual Thinking at UC Berkeley and also worked as a professional artist before moving to an earthship in the quiet and rugged desert near Abiquiu, NM. Matt is a practicing artist and is represented by several art galleries, including Form & Concept (Santa Fe) and Visions West Contemporary (Denver, Jackson Hole, Livingston, and Bozeman). He has shown his work across the country, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Berkeley Art Museum. Matt’s artwork has been collected internationally and has been published in New American Paintings, The Wall Street Journal, and several other publications. Matt enjoys spending time with his wife and new baby, long-distance runs in the mountains, and working in his art studio.


Lisa Nordstrum


7th Grade New Mexico History. Lisa graduated from The Colorado College with a major in Southwest Studies and a minor in Women’s 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 local public and private schools. 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. One of her primary goals as an educator is to create meaningful learning experiences for students to discover the significance of multiple perspectives and narratives in the telling of a comprehensive story of the past. Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, especially while exploring the outdoors in our beautiful state of New Mexico.


David Páez


Spanish III, V, and AP. David completed his Ph.D. studies at the University of New Mexico, where he also received the best teacher award. His linguistic research addresses the semantic foundations of grammar and phonology in daily conversations. As an educator, he specializes in narrative and gamified approaches for Second Language Acquisition, promotes linguistic diversity, and focuses on dismantling myths and linguistic biases in education. He enjoys long hikes, engaging in deep philosophical discussions, music, art, and spending time with Ícaro, his border collie best friend.


Alejandra Palos


Davis New Mexico Scholarship Student Support Intern, Alejandra graduated from St. Edwards University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and a minor in Psychology. Alejandra had the opportunity to be part of Breakthrough Santa Fe and the first generation of Davis New Mexico Scholars. She is excited to be back in Santa Fe and still be part of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship community here at Prep!


Aiyana Pendleton


Algebra II Honors, 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 14 years. In addition to teaching mathematics, Aiyana has co-led trips to Nepal and Mongolia for Prep students. Before teaching at Prep, she taught at the Rio Grande School, The Institute of American Indian Arts, Ortiz Middle School, and Santa Fe High.


Larry Petry


P.E. Teacher and Transportation Coordinator. Larry Petry has worked with the school for over 24 years. Originally from Pagosa Springs, CO, Larry grew up in Santa Fe. In his time at Santa Fe Prep, he has coached the girls’ basketball team, taught P.E., and driven thousands of miles for our athletics teams and school trips. According to Larry, “I love driving and enjoy my time working with Prep students!”


Luis Piñon


Facilities Staff. Born and raised in Santa Fe, Luis is a graduate of Capital High School and has been working at Prep since 2023. He began working in the lunch program and now works for the maintenance department. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors and learning something new every day.


Mark Prochaska


Science Department Chair, Chemistry. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in education from The College of William and Mary. He earned a doctorate in applied physics from Cornell University, researching combinatorial chemistry methods for finding new fuel cell catalysts. He taught courses in physics, chemistry, astronomy, science research, and mathematics at schools in Virginia and Indiana before coming to Santa Fe Prep. In his free time, Mark enjoys hiking, camping, reading, making scented candles, and figuring out how to maintain and fix his family’s cars.


Joey Reich


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.


Sam Ritter


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. In 2012, Sam began working at Breakthrough Santa Fe at Santa Fe Prep, where he eventually served as Co-Director of that program. In 2017, Sam became the Director of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship, the largest private scholarship program designated solely for New Mexican students in the state’s history. Throughout his tenure at Prep, he has taught various upper school classes in the history department. When not at work, Sam likes to play music and explore the great outdoors.


Heather Robinson


Head of Middle School. Heather holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College in Private School Leadership and a master’s degree in Gifted Education from the University of South Florida. She has been either a teacher, administrator, or coach in independent schools for over twenty years. Heather also served as an Academic Coordinator for the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) for three summers. Most recently, she moved to Santa Fe from Austin, TX, where she taught middle school science, coached, and was the science department chair. Prior to that, she lived in Florida, Beijing, China, and New York. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling or spending time outdoors doing just about anything with her dog, Bonni.


Rennae Ross


School Health Coordinator. Rennae has been providing service to the Prep community as a health care coordinator/provider since obtaining an EMT-B certification in 1992. She has been on the faculty at Prep since 1990 as a PE teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education. Throughout her career at Prep, Rennae has coached numerous sports, including soccer and dance at the Varsity level, and has coached teams to 3 State Soccer Championships and 2 State Dance Championships.

Rennae is a certified official for the NMOA in the sports of Spirit (Cheer and Dance) and Track & Field, and she spends many weekends officiating high school athletics. After 30+ years of involvement in youth soccer in New Mexico, Rennae was elected President of the New Mexico Youth Soccer Association, the state’s largest youth sports organization, with over 20,000 youth players. Rennae previously served as a volunteer EMT & firefighter for the Ilfeld Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department. In addition, Rennae has served as coordinator for Prep’s COVID-19 protocols and response. Rennae is a parent to two Prep graduates, Chris Holden (‘96) and Catie Holden-Rohloff (‘99).


Kaitlyn Roy


Director of Learning Services. Kaitlyn attended Northern Arizona University as an undergraduate student before moving on to the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) to complete her graduate studies. Kaitlyn holds a BS in Psychological Sciences (Disability Studies minor), an MS in Special Education, and a PhD in School Psychology. Kaitlyn previously worked as a school psychologist in Durango, CO, where she assisted school teams in identifying children with disabilities and determining their eligibility for special education services and/or accommodations. Originally from Albuquerque, Kaitlyn was eager to return to New Mexico, where there is an abundance of sunshine and fresh chile. Kaitlyn is passionate about equity in education and is excited to provide support to students, families, and faculty/staff within the SF Prep community.


Yadiner Sabir


Language Department Chair,  Spanish. Yadiner Sabir was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, and an MA in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. She has taught Spanish, English, and Communications at various educational institutions, including the University of Puerto Rico at Bayamón, Lynn University, North Carolina State University, and Cary Academy in North Carolina. Yadiner comes to Santa Fe Prep from Francis W. Parker School, a progressive independent school in Chicago, Il. There she served as an Upper School Spanish teacher and as a Senior Grade Head/Dean. Yadiner is excited to return to New Mexico and explore the Northern region of the Land of Enchantment with her family.


Bruce Sachs


CFO, Co-Director of Tuition Assistance. 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 thirty years with many companies.


Rebecca Sam


Middle School Science and AP Environmental Science. Rebecca grew up in Northern WI, where her love for all things outdoors was cultivated. She pursued her bachelor’s degree at a small, rural liberal arts college in Iowa, where she earned degrees in Biology and Secondary Education. After teaching and being a mom for several years, Rebecca went back to school at Iowa State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Entomology, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. Outside of school, Rebecca enjoys hiking, camping, exploring, reading, and spending time with her family.


Ashley Satterthwaite


Assistant Head of School/Head of Upper School. With the intention of never taking another mathematics class, Ashley completed AP Calculus in high school and declared journalism as her major in college. She now holds a Bachelor’s Degree in pure mathematics and a Master’s Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, in the epistemology and pedagogy of the subject. Throughout the past two decades, she has designed explorations for her students to see mathematics as a language, art, and powerful system of reasoning, all while simultaneously serving in leadership roles to promote whole-being development, wellness, citizenry, and community responsibility in independent schools in California, Utah, and Wyoming. Outside of school, Ashley can be found supporting individuals as a certified optimization coach, adventuring outdoors with her family on both groomed and un-groomed trails, attending the theater, or simply reading a book.


Aaron Schubach


Head of School. The 2023-2024 school year marks Aaron’s fourth year as Head of Santa Fe Prep. He brings 23 years of experience in independent school education, working with students, teachers, staff, parents, trustees, and alumni in four independent schools in Colorado and New Mexico. Aaron recently concluded six years as Head of The Colorado Springs School. He earned an undergraduate degree in History from Colorado College and master’s degrees from St. John’s College and Columbia University. In his free time, he enjoys high-country adventures with his family.



Ben Sleeman


Algebra II, Macroeconomics, Financial Literacy, 10th Graded Class Sponsor. Ben grew up near Liverpool, England, and studied math and statistics at the University of Liverpool. In 2017, he moved to Buena Vista, Colorado, to teach math and facilitate experiential learning at a residential high school. During his time as an experiential educator, Ben pursued instructor certifications from the American Mountain Guides Association and the American Canoe Association. He also led trips throughout the Southwest US and in Baja, California. He was awarded a Master’s Degree in Education in 2020 from Western Colorado University, where he focused on investigating inquiry-based learning from the lens of cognitive load theory. Outside of his work in the classroom, Ben loves to be reading, exploring trails on his mountain bike, or paddling whitewater in his kayak. He also enjoys competing in endurance events such as the Leadville Trail 100, Ironman Triathlon, and the Grand Traverse Ski race.


Ashley Smith


Business Manager. Raised in San Francisco, Ca., Ashley moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1996 and never looked back. She has worked in the financial industry since 1998 in many capacities at banking institutions across New Mexico. Ashley has a degree in Culinary Arts and loves cooking and finding new condiments to add to recipes. When not balancing a checkbook, she can be found camping around the beautiful state of New Mexico with her husband and dogs.


Leslie Smith


English Department Chair,  English 10. 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 mountain trails, or cheering on the Blue Griffins at any sporting event.


Sarah Stark


7th grade English, Creative Writing, Skirmisher Literary Magazine Faculty Sponsor. 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 beginning to write fiction. Prior to teaching at Prep, Sarah taught literature and fiction at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Her first novel, Out There, won the 2015 Indiefab Editor’s Choice Award for Fiction,  Book of the Year and received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. Sarah is the mother of three grown daughters and a 13-year-old son, Jack.  When she is not writing or reading, you may find her in the garden. She is currently working on a new novel.


Nick Stofocik


Director of Facilities. Nick was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended a college prep high school and earned his BFA in Theater from Ohio University. Following graduation, he landed in New York City, managing hotels in midtown Manhattan for about ten years. He moved to The City Different in 2012 and worked as an Operations Manager for a New Mexico-based hotel, a manager of an insurance company, and most recently, a property manager for a 16-acre condominium community on the north side of town. Nick has an amazing filmmaker wife, Terry, and two energetic daughters, and they all love to make films, see shows, hike, swim, and play in Santa Fe.


Jillian Tomlinson


Advancement Database Manager and Events Coordinator.  A Los Alamos native, Jillian received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature & Creative Writing from The George Washington University and her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. After nearly a decade spent working in New York City’s professional theatre industry, she returned to New Mexico and joined the Prep Advancement team in 2021.


John Utsey


Director of Technology. John is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. After leaving the Marines he spent 15 years managing the Data Center at the National Center for Genome Resources, a local Santa Fe genetics research institute. He joined Prep in the summer of 2013. John spends his free time with his wife and two children camping, geocaching, and motorcycling.


Terry Vinson

ASL. Terry was born Deaf and grew up at the New Mexico School for The Deaf, which led her on the path of becoming an American Sign Language teacher. She has taught ASL for over 20 years around the country. Terry’s main interest is in helping hearing people understand the ASL and Deaf cultures, and it is her great thrill to witness when hearing people begin to communicate with the deaf.

Todd Volz


Ceramics. Todd Volz grew up in a small town in Wyoming.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in studio art and art education from the University of Wyoming.  He went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Idaho.  Todd has taught ceramics in several colleges and universities around Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. He also served as studio director at a nationally recognized ceramics studio, and has maintained his own studio practice before coming to Santa Fe Prep to teach ceramics.


Drew Walker


English. Drew received a BA in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, in 2001. From there, he took off to Kyoto, Japan, where he studied Rinzai Zen Buddhism at Tofukuji Monastery. He eventually returned to the U.S. to pursue a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, where he focused on world religions and ethics. After HDS, Drew taught religious studies at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, MD, and at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Brooklandville, MD. He returned to higher ed in 2008 and earned a Ph.D. in Political Theory from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. Before coming to Prep, he taught at Whitman College and was the Director of Gender Studies at Brown University. Outside of work, Drew enjoys gardening, cooking, writing, and spending time outdoors with his husband and daughter.


Ashley Watson


Pre-Calculus, 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.


Carla Westen


Latin, 7th Grade Class Sponsor, Blue Griffin Chair for Inspirational Teaching. Carla received her Bachelor of Arts in Italian Studies from Wesleyan University and her Master of Arts from the University of Wisconsin, where she was a University Fellow.  Carla has been teaching Latin at Santa Fe Prep since 2005.  In her free time, Carla enjoys reading, dancing Zumba, studying Spanish, cooking, and spending time with her family.


Eric Wynn


Director of TAP and Experiential Education. Eric has an experience as a classroom teacher, outdoor education leader, and assistant principal. Eric holds degrees from McGill University and Middlebury College.


Matt Ybarra


C0-Director of College Counseling, DEIJ Staff & Faculty Liaison, ROCA NM Program Director. 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 underrepresented backgrounds. Matt also serves as a member of Prep’s DEIJ Committee and operates the Rural Opportunities for College Access program (ROCA NM) in partnership with the Davis New Mexico Scholarship. Along with Sam Ritter (Davis NM Scholarship) and Allie Cooper (formerly of Breakthrough Santa Fe), the trio was named Counselors That Change Lives in 2021.