Faculty Bios

faculty

Melinda Mueller, Upper School Science, at the SmartBoard

Thomas Adams ‘00 (Foreign Language), B.S., Carleton College. Thomas is a Seattle Academy alumnus, earning National Merit Scholar status with honors for outstanding achievement in French and music. He continued his relationship with Seattle Academy after graduation, assisting with vocal shows. Fluent in French and Serbo-Croatian, Thomas adds a wealth of experience to the Seattle Academy community through his accomplishments in music, science, mathematics, foreign language instruction, distance running, ultimate Frisbee, and leading outdoor trips.

Erin Aitchison ‘98 (Assistant Athletic Director; Coach), B.A., Occidental College. Erin anchored Seattle Academy’s 4×400 relay team during her senior year capturing the state championship and initiating a long history of track and field excellence for the school that continues to this day. Upon graduating from Occidental College, Erin was the college’s Assistant Track and Field Coach for three years. She then returned to Seattle and became an associate teacher and teaching assistant at The Evergreen School. At Evergreen, she taught publishing, humanities research, and fine arts.

Emily Anderson (6th Grade Coordinator; English) B.A., Whitman College. Emily’s professional experience includes teaching language arts, Spanish, and math in public schools, as a private tutor, and most recently at Meridian School. In addition, Emily has taught abroad in Spain, been a mentor for at-risk youth, and founded her own art camp which she managed and taught for seven summers. She was a teaching assistant at the YMCA, a tour guide for her alma mater, Whitman College, and is passionate about tennis.

Gary Anderson (Mathematics), B.A. and B.S., University of Washington; M.I.T., Seattle University. A nationally recognized innovator in the application of the cutting-edge learning platform Moodle, Gary adds another impressive honor to his dossier, having been named to the select, national, NAIS Teachers of the Future program. Among his many Seattle Academy accomplishments, Gary has been involved in the implementation of the advanced Mathematica software into Seattle Academy’s high school curriculum and teaches a course that allows students to earn college credit for their high school work in Calculus.

Amanda Amsel (Visual Arts) B.A., Drury University; M.A., City University of Seattle. Amanda has served as a visual arts teacher and as the Arts Department Head at several Seattle-area schools including Queen Anne Elementary, Meadowdale Middle and High Schools, Edmonds-Woodway High School, and Columbia River High School in Vancouver. She has received numerous awards for both her art and her teaching. Amanda has led three tours to Europe, and she enjoys backpacking, skiing, and hiking as well as cooking, reading, and sewing.

Jill Beckerman ’06 (English; Coach) B.A., George Washington University. While earning her Psychology degree from GWU, Jill was an Assistant Teacher at the Smithsonian Institute and Thrive Art School as well as an Education Intern at the Corcoran Gallery. She then went on to work as a Communications Assistant at the ACLU of New Jersey, as the lead teacher at the YAI Network for People with Disabilities, and at the Newark Star Ledger. Most recently, Jill served as Coordinator of the Valley Teen Center in Twisp, WA.

Alana Bell ‘03 (Director of Equity and Inclusion), Columbia College Chicago. After attending college in Chicago, Alana returned to Seattle to act as Education Coordinator for the non-profit mentoring program, Girls Inside Out. In addition to her role as 6th Grade Coordinator, she runs the Middle School Diversity Club, Four Corners, engaging students in discussions around the ever-changing notion of identity. She also organizes opportunities for students to learn through service and has strengthened key partnerships with organizations such as Lifelong AIDS Alliance, Capitol Hill Housing, and Jewish Family Services.

Mike Bernier (Physical Education Department Chair; Coach), B.S., Syracuse University; M.H.S.E., University of Florida. Mike was on the Seattle Academy P.E./coaching team for several years before moving to the Auburn and Tahoma school districts, creating and directing a youth sports development agency in Auburn. He returned to Seattle Academy in 2006 to rejoin the school’s athletics efforts. His rich background includes coaching numerous select soccer teams and track teams and coordinating youth sports programs around the Puget Sound. Prior to arriving in Seattle, he performed similar duties in Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia.

Achijah Berry ‘10 (6th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.A., University of Oregon. Prior to college, Achijah worked as a teacher’s aide for the Educare Learning Center in White Center and a camp counselor for the Tukwila Community Center. While in Eugene, she continued her work with children as a teacher’s aide for Relief Nursery and the Moss Street Children’s Center, a summer counselor for the Boys and Girls Club, and a camp coach for the University of Oregon’s soccer camps. Achijah was a four-year player on the women’s soccer team. During the 2013 season, she was named co-captain and received the Robin Morlock Team Award.

Mark Betnel (Science) B.S., Harvey Mudd; M.A., San Francisco State University; M.S. University of Rhode Island; Ph.D., Boston University. Mark has been teaching at the high school and college level for over fifteen years. His subjects include a wide range of mathematics and science topics as well as writing and philosophy. Most recently he was an assistant professor at Johnson and Wales University and a writing fellow at Boston University.

Brendan Beyl ‘08 (Physical Education; Coach) B.A., American Public University. Brendan has coached at SAAS for many years including both Middle and Upper School basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. He has also been a coach at numerous NBA summer camps including those sponsored by Jamal Crawford (Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trailblazers), Nate Robinson (Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls), Aaron Brooks (Houston Rockets), and Spencer Hawes (Philadelphia 76ers). He has been a camp coach, Marketing Coordinator, and practice player for the Seattle Storm and has also volunteered at McChord Air Force Base coaching youth sports.

Stephanie Bloom (Spanish) B.A., M.A., University of Washington. Stephanie taught at Lakeside School and was Assistant Director at Instituto Cultural Oaxaca in Mexico prior to coming to Seattle Academy. She also taught Spanish at her alma mater, the University of Washington. Stephanie calls her work in Mexico an “invaluable experience, through which I continued learning about Mexican people, culture, and the Spanish language. These experiences allow me to speak about the Latino culture from first-hand knowledge.”

Hilary Bowen (7th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.S., Northwestern University. Hilary is a four-time NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse National Champion, earning tournament MVP twice and named All-American three times. She has coached lacrosse at the University of Southern California, Mount St. Mary’s University, and various camps and clinics including the SAAS Middle School camps. She has also worked as an associate at Caprok Capital, researching macroeconomic trends and identifying investment opportunities.

Martin Brakke (10th Grade Coordinator; PE) B.S., James Madison University; M.A.T., College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Martin has taught math, biology, chemistry, and physics at the high school level for many years including in Wenatchee, Baltimore, Venezuela, and Zurich. He has been a fitness instructor, research mentor, and youth minister as well as coached softball, wrestling, and baseball. Martin returns to SAAS after a two-year hiatus. He served as the 10th Grade Coordinator from 2012-2014.

Makenzie Brandon ’09 (Assistant Head of Upper School; Coach), B.A., Occidental College. Makenzie returns to SAAS in the role of the 9th Grade Coordinator. Her experience in working with youth includes the Youth Justice Coalition, a youth-led movement to challenge discrimination and injustice with the Los Angeles County juvenile system; Great Strides, a mentor program that promotes nutrition and healthy lifestyles for boys and girls in public elementary schools; and InsideOUT Writers, a non-profit organization serving incarcerated youth with writing and life skills workshops. She has also served as the Summer Clinics Manager for Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Clubs and as a coach for NBA basketball camps through Athlete Foundations.

Jeff Budke (7th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.A., Seattle University. Jeff has served as an Athletic Director and staff member for both the Ballard Boys and Girls Club and the Boys & Girls Club of King County, serving over eight hundred kids annually. In addition, he worked as both an assistant varsity coach and junior varsity head coach for the Ballard High School basketball program as well as managing sales for a medical equipment company.

Jacquelyn Burchfield (Mathematics, Science) B.A., Grinnell College. Jacquelyn has been a substitute teacher at University Prep and Lakeside here in Seattle. Prior to that she taught Chemistry, Environmental Science, Biology, Physics, and Calculus at Arroyo Pacific Academy, where she also worked with the Outdoors Club. She has been a tutor and a graduate student instructor and researcher at UC Berkeley, and in her free time, she has volunteered for the Adult Literacy Program.

Shaun Burl (Middle School Athletic Director; Coach), B.A., Seattle University. Shaun has worked with children of all ages from pre-school to teenagers. Former positions include working with a low-income elementary school to help develop a conflict resolution system and develop student leadership, teaching 5-18 year olds being treated for mental illnesses at Children’s Hospital, and coaching basketball to middle school students. Most recently, Shaun was a Physical Education and Movement teacher at Giddens School.

George Burpee (Project Manager), B.A., Bowdoin College; M.A., Pace University. George became Head of Middle School in 2004 after ten years as a Seattle Academy sixth grade English, writing lab, and Latin teacher, as well as serving as Middle School Dean of Students. Prior to coming to Seattle Academy, George taught literature, writing, and American history at The Browning School in New York. He also developed curricula for literature and history at The Legacy School for Integrated Studies in New York. George plays trumpet and piano and composes for both; his athletic interests include cycling, sailing, and lacrosse.

Tracey Byrne (Learning Support), B.Ed., UAA, Alaska; MAT AIP, Miami University, Ohio. Tracey has over twenty-eight years of teaching experience as a K-8 classroom teacher in public and private schools in Alaska and Seattle, specializing in inquiry, art, the writing process, and reading comprehension. Tracey operated an educational consulting and private tutoring business for ten years prior to arriving at Seattle Academy, working with K-12 students in all subject areas and also provided ISEE preparation and academic monitoring and support to families. An avid photographer and naturalist, Tracey spent her twenties in Alaska flying airplanes, floating wild rivers, and living off the grid.

Freddy Carley ‘04 (9th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.A., Western Washington University. Fred combines his love of the outdoors and teaching in his position of manager at Alki Kayak tours, where he has spent almost a decade leading thousands of children and adults annually on tours around Elliott Bay and the Duwamish River, including organizing custom tours with school groups of all ages. In addition, he has been a leader on many of the SAAS trips to Alaska since his graduation and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. Other work experiences for outdoor retailers include REI, Mountain to Sound Outfitters, and GNO Cyclery.

Emily Carmichael (French) B.A., Brown University; M.A., New York University; M.A., Middlebury College. Emily has taught French at a number of institutions including the Washington Academy of Languages at Seattle Pacific University, Alliance Francaise de Seattle, French-American School of Puget Sound, Seattle Languages International, and Epitech in Paris. She has also worked as an intern for The Museum of Jewish History (NY), as a publisher’s representative for Cengage Learning (NY), and a grant writer for International Center of Photography (NY). She also enjoys singing and reading and interviews high school applicants for Brown University.

David Carrington (English) B.A., Pomona College. David comes to SAAS from Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio where he taught English for five years, earning a Master Teacher of Excellence Award. He also worked at the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University, has been a Globe Summer Scholar at the Globe Theatre in London, a Middle School Soccer coach, an English as a Second Language teacher in India, and a competitive ballroom dancer.

Dexter Chapin (Science; Sustainability) B.A., Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Maryland. In 2009, Dexter was named to the select, national NAIS Teachers of the Future program. Dexter came to SAAS after serving as Dean of Science at the Ross School in East Hampton, New York. At Ross, he developed an integrated science curriculum for grades 5-12. He taught advanced placement biology at Durham Academy in Durham, North Carolina, and has also taught A.P. chemistry and cultural anthropology. Dexter is an avid photographer and outdoorsman and counts Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific among his former places of residence. In 2009-10 Dexter advised the group of seniors that developed a comprehensive sequestration prototype to offset the school’s carbon footprint.

Hannah Chapin (Science) B.A., Carleton College; Ph.D., Yale University. Hannah has extensive experience in science education including teaching courses in Cell Biology, Biology of Human Reproduction, The Interface of Science and Society, Medical Biochemistry, Introductory Biology, and The Science of Aging at schools such as Yale University, University of Washington, HiveBio Community Laboratory, and Cornish College of the Arts. She has been an invited speaker at Global Connections School and Lakeside School, where she served as a substitute teacher. She has also mentored high school students in their submissions to Seattle BioEpo, a city-wide science fair.

Michael Cimino (Theatre) B.A., University of Cincinnati. Michael has been an author and performer for numerous productions at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater. He was commissioned to create Grandma’s Attic as a musical for the Educational Outreach Series that tours Seattle Public Schools and has also toured nationally with Phantom of the Opera as a main-stage actor and road manager, arranging transportation, hotel bookings, payroll, and advertising. A veteran of over 60 theater shows, Mike is also an experienced film/television producer. He has written several original plays including Viva Bombolini, based on  Robert Crichton’s  The Secret of Santa Vittoria.

Rhonda Cinotto (Dance) B.A., M.F.A., University of Washington. Rhonda brings extensive professional dance experience to Seattle Academy’s dance program. Over the past several years, she has been involved with the University of Washington’s ballet, modern, and jazz dance programs, including practicum and lectures in anatomy, dance history, and composition; curriculum design; dance theory, criticism, and repertoire. She is a veteran performer, having performed with Arc Dance Productions in such pieces as Song of the Sirens, Sporadic Moments, and Return to My Adoration, while also performing countless works with the Chamber Dance Company and Spectrum Dance Theater.

Peter Clark (Science Department Chair; Coach) B.A., Colby College, M.S., Tufts University. Peter was a laboratory instructor at Tufts University prior to joining Seattle Academy’s faculty, while also teaching conservation-oriented marine courses for grade school students at the New England Aquarium. Before that, he taught biology at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Peter is an experienced outdoorsman and has coached high school soccer and lacrosse.

Stacie Cone (12th Grade Coordinator/College Advising) B.A., Evergreen State College. Stacie’s professional experience includes social services case management with Puget Sound Residential Services, producing the literary arts festival Northwest Bookfest, and directing the Annual Fund at Lakeside School. At Seattle Academy, she works with students as a grade level coordinator, member of the college advising team, and leader of the annual New Orleans summer service trip.

Lauri Conner (Head of Upper School; Coach) B.A., University of Kansas, M.F.A., Ph.C., University of Washington. Lauri earned her M.F.A. in the field of creative writing. She has taught English on both the secondary and college levels and has taught a variety of writing applications, from creative to journalistic. She is a published author, in book and article formats, and is a much-requested public reader in book stores, libraries, and other public forums.

Nick Creach (Co-Head of Middle School; Coach), B.A., University of Washington; M.Ed, Heritage University. Nick taught history and life skills at the Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire for five years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. For the past six years, he has worked at University Prep, holding a variety of positions including history teacher, Middle School Life Coordinator, 9th Grade Class Dean, and most recently, Director of Middle School Athletics.

Sam Crihfield (English; Coach) B.A., Harvard College; M.S.Ed., University of Pennsylvania. As a Teaching Fellow at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, Sam taught a wide array of Humanities subjects including literature, world history, Roman history and American Film and Culture of the 1950’s and 60’s. He was the head coach of St. Paul’s JV boys’ soccer and tennis teams and also led hiking and camping trips which included a 3-day wilderness orientation trip. In addition to teaching and volunteer experiences in China, Chili, Honduras and Peru, Sam was also a four-year member of the internationally recognized collegiate choir, the Harvard Glee Club.

Gabe Cronin (Science; Robotics; Coach), B.S., Brown University; M.S., Stanford University. Gabe came to Seattle Academy from The Calverton School in Huntingtown, Maryland, where he taught both middle and high school math and science, including algebra, AP calculus, chemistry, and honors physics. Gabe was also a science research assistant at both Stanford and Brown universities and worked on aircraft technology with Texas Instruments. Gabe also teaches Materials Science and Product Design that embraces the sciences, arts, and technology, and he  advises the Robotics Club.

Michael Cruz (Theatre) B.A., University of Puget Sound; M.F.A., University of San Diego. Michael is the co-founder and director of the Wedgwood Drama Studio and taught theatre at several schools including Eastside Preparatory School, The Northwest School, Pacific Crest School, and The Kimberton Waldorf School (PA). In addition, he has worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Public Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre Company (PA), the Shakespeare Theater (DC), and Samahan Performing Arts and Education Center (CA).

Christine Davis-Goff (Learning Support) B.A., M.A., University of Auckland. After serving as a long-term substitute for SAAS, Christine joined the Learning Support Department in 2012. In addition to her commitment to making a difference through education, Christine has worked as an international strategic change consultant for Focused Change International, was the Board Chair for the Seattle Language Academy, and was an assistant to a works engineer in New Zealand. She has traveled to the Far East (Nepal, Thailand, Singapore) and all over Europe (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany).

Sandra Dawson (Mathematics) B.A., Assumption College. Sandra has taught algebra, geometry, and trigonometry to middle school and high school students at the Cheyenne Mountain School (CO), Charlton Middle School (MA), and Westborough High School (MA). In additional she has worked as a private tutor, a math tutor at Sylvan Learning Center, a math specialist working with at-risk students at Millbury High School, and a field hockey coach.

Joel DeBruhl (11th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.A., University of South Carolina; MS, University of Oregon. Joel has taught at the elementary, middle school, and high school level in disciplines such as social studies, language arts, health, and physical education. He has also coached girls’ basketball and tennis. He worked as a High School Coordinator at Corinthian Colleges in Portland, conducting workshops with high school students on the importance of higher education. Other life experiences he brings to SAAS include working as a sales manager at a radio station, as a real estate agent, and as an account representatives for an athletics apparel company.

Thaddeus Duhme (Middle School Support; Coach) B.S., M.Ed., University of Minnesota. Thaddeus’ experience includes coaching basketball and strength and conditioning as well as working as a personal trainer. He has coached summer camps, high school teams, AAU teams, and was an assistant coach for the Minnesota Vikings. In addition, he has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Minnesota and a volunteer in the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

Rick DuPree (Director of Community Partnerships; Coach) B.A., University of Washington. Rick has a wealth of experience from a range of organizations in the Seattle area including: Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, where he was a Club Director; Seattle Sonics and Storm, where he was the Director of Community Relations; NPower, a social enterprise nonprofit agency; the Central Area Motivation Program, where he served as Executive Director; and in both the Human Services Department and Strategic Planning Office for the City of Seattle. Rick was a pioneer in starting Seattle’s first all-sports radio format on KJR, one of the first all-sports radio formats in the country, and was sports producer for KOMO TV. He has served on a number of area boards including Powerful Schools (Chair), Austin Foundation (President), Emerald City Outreach Ministries, Mt. Calvary Christian Center Church, and Damien Wilkins Foundation. He was a member of the UW Husky Football Team and played for the Washington DC Commandos in the inaugural Arena Football League season.

Zac Dykan (Physical Education; Coach) B.A., University of Colorado. Zac’s experience includes serving as Summer Athletic Director at Camp Solomon Schechter, Summer Camp Director and Physical Education teacher at Seattle Jewish Community School, and coaching both soccer and basketball for Seattle Academy. He has also been a sports coach and personal mentor at ClubXcite, an Event Coordinator at Vavi Sports, and a Program Administrator at San Diego Sports Innovators. He is passionate about coaching and fostering a culture of sportsmanship and integrity.

Gerald Elliott (History; Robotics; Ethics Team) B.A., University of Washington, M.A., University of Washington. Gerald is a graduate of Garfield High School, where he completed his student teaching in world and American history. His previous experience includes working as a scientific instrument maker and chemist at the University of Washington Oceanography Developmental Machine Shop and as a math and science tutor for Empowering Youth and Family Outreach in Rainier Beach.

Regan Falcon (French; Mock Trial) B.A., M.A., Smith College; studied abroad in Paris. Regan spent two years teaching French at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts. A creative and energetic classroom presence, Regan has high expectations for her students but also believes learning a language can be, and should be, fun. Her students are introduced to poetry, magazine articles, and short stories, even at the beginning levels of learning the language. Prior to her time at Dana Hall, she taught in the public school system in Massachusetts and, for seven consecutive summers, oversaw the accredited French Language Immersion Program at the Concordia Language Village in Bemidgji, Minnesota.

Emily Feder (English; Speech and Debate) B.A., Macalaster College; M.F.A., Columbia University School of the Arts. Emily has been an instructor at Columbia University, the International Rescue Committee in New York, and the School for Foreign Languages in Croatia. She is a professional writer and editor, and worked as President Bill Clinton’s speechwriter at the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative before she came to SAAS.

Lisa Feiertag ‘02 (History; Innovations) B.A., University of Chicago; M.A., Western Washington University. Lisa has taught a variety of subjects including math, language arts, GED preparation, violin, and even horsemanship at several schools including Bellingham Technical College, Geneva Elementary, Pilsen School for the Arts (IL), and youth camps. In addition, her work history includes working as a paralegal for Nash Disability Law (IL); as a research intern for the YMCA of the USA; and as the coordinator for the University of Chicago’s annual blood drive. In her spare time, Lisa acts as a judge for the world’s largest scavenger hunt.

Willy Felton (Mathematics; Robotics) B.S, Willamette University; M.A., Western Governors University. Willy has taught mathematics (including algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and trigonometry) as well as computer science at the Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho, as well as Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart here in Seattle. While at the Community School he also served as the Assistant Director of Technology. In addition, Willy coaches basketball, has been an outdoor trip leader, and was a software developer for AT&T Wireless.

Tom Flood (Visual Arts; Sustainability) B.A., Western Washington University, Outstanding Fine Arts Graduate Award. Tom taught visual arts at Coyote Jr. High School and Madrona Elementary School prior to joining the Seattle Academy faculty. He has also produced numerous youth public art projects, such as the Isaiah Edward Memorial Park, Casey Family Trees, and Seattle Utility alley murals. In addition to teaching various visual arts media and sustainability classes, Tom is an accomplished mechanic, welder, fabricator, and printmaker.

Jonathon Friedman (Counselor) B.A., University of Washington; M.A., LIOS Graduate College of Saybrook University. Jonathon is certified as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate, Mental Health Professional, and a Child Mental Health Specialist. His previous experience includes serving as a clinical intern and staff therapist at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington as well as providing direct services to adolescents, adults, and families through Jonathon Friedman Counseling.

Matthew Frost (Instrumental Music) B.Mus., University of Idaho; M.Mus., Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University; D.Mus.A., University of Washington. Matthew has nearly a decade of teaching experience. He has been the Director of Bands at Mount Vernon High School, Friday Harbor Middle and High School, and Langley Middle School. He has also served as assistant conductor for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, a faculty member at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a teaching assistant at the University of Washington. He owns Frost Custom Brass, designing and manufacturing custom mouthpieces serving clients in several of the top symphony orchestras and music-school faculty in the country. Matt is also a 2003 NCAA All-American Cyclist.

Jarad Gifford (Upper School Dean of Students) B.A., Washington State University. Most recently, Jarad was a Behavior Intervention Specialist at Overlake Hospital supporting students with emotional and behavioral disorders. In this position he collected and interpreted data to develop assessments and collaborative intervention plans. Prior to his work at Overlake Hospital, Jarad worked as a tutor and para-educator and has also coached baseball, basketball, and football in the Walla Walla Public Schools.

Jason Gough (English) B.A., University of Puget Sound; M.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; M.A., Breadloaf School. Jason taught at the Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, from 2007-2010. He has taught everything from Freshman Composition to AP Literature and Composition and served as a student advisor, club advisor, and coached track, cross country, and football. He also worked in admissions at the post-secondary level at the University of Puget Sound.

Tom Hajduk (Community Business Liaison) B.A., University of Puget Sound; M.E., Middlebury’s Breadloaf College. Tom taught English in Japan prior to arriving at Seattle Academy and spent the previous five years teaching English at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma (WA). Known simply as “Haj” to his students, Tom has also led a number of outdoor education and kayaking expeditions.

Meredith Hale (Academic Technology Coordinator, Librarian) B.A., University of Kentucky, M.L.I.S. University of Washington. Meredith comes to SAAS from the Pierce County Library where she worked for over six years as a branch assistant, reference librarian, and teen services librarian. Other experiences include being the Vice President of the Board for the non-profit Peninsula Hands on Art in Gig Harbor and serving as the Tour Coordinator and Education Program Manager for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

Hayden Hall (Learning Support) B.A., Antioch University. Hayden has been working with young people for more than 20 years, in capacities such as tutoring and serving as a disc jockey at school and youth events. He is a long-time volunteer for Big Brothers of King County, has coached basketball at Evergreen Junior High, and has helped special education students with math and science studies.

Mike Haykin (Director of Learning Support) B.A., Central Washington University; M.E., University of Washington. Mike heads Seattle Academy’s learning support department, which includes the Middle School and Upper School Study Skills programs. An experienced school counselor, learning specialist, private counselor, and consultant, Mike has also been in private practice, specializing in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of learning disabilities/differences.

KC Helmeid (Music; Theatre) B.F.A., Illinois Wesleyan University/University of Washington. KC brings a vast array of theatre and music experience to Seattle Academy, having directed and/or acted in such productions as Guys and Dolls, Brigadoon, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Good Times Are Killing Me, among others, on both middle school and high school levels. He has taught at several Seattle-area private and public schools and has worked in the performing arts in numerous cities across the United States.

Cheryll Hidalgo (Film) B.F.A., M.F.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cheryll has put the SAAS film program on the map, with her students’ works being nominated for many awards and being chosen for showings at prestigious national and international film festivals. Cheryll’s hands-on experience in the constantly evolving field of art production enables her to teach students not only film theory but also the use of state-of-the-art equipment.

Ed Hofmann (Technical Theatre) B.F.A., State University of New York. Ed has been designing scenery and lighting in Seattle for the past ten years. His work has been seen at the AHA! Theatre, Bathhouse Theatre, Ethnic Cultural Theatre, Tacoma Little Theatre, and elsewhere. He formerly held the positions of Production Designer and Tech Director for Seattle Central Community College Drama and for The Conciliation Project.

Mark Hoover (Vocal) B.A., University of the Pacific; M.A., Ph.D., University of Washington. Mark came to Seattle Academy from his position as associate director of Northwest Choirs. He has led our top-level vocal group, The Onions, to first place finishes in numerous national competitions. Several of his students have won recognition from the National Advancement for the Arts.

Leigh Hopkins (Counselor) B.A., Seattle Pacific University; M.S., Fuller Theological Seminary. Leigh has had a vast array of experiences prior to coming to Seattle Academy, including serving as a Residence Life Coordinator, Interim Director of Student Life, and Chief Judicial Officer for Seattle Pacific University. In her counseling experience, she has served as a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor for The Place Within; a Mental Health Counselor for The Center for Counseling & Health Resources; and as Clinical Supervisor at Navos Mental Health Solutions, in addition to her private practice.

Brooks Hopp ‘08 (History; Coach) B.A., University of Washington. Brooks will be working with 8th grade families as the liaison between faculty, parents, and students. He will continue his work with the 8th Grade Leadership team and in his role as boys’ varsity soccer coach.

Lily Hotchkiss (Visual Arts) B.A., California College of Arts and Design. Lily brings over ten years of experience teaching arts to preschool, elementary, and middle school children. She has been a teaching artist for the Community School of West Seattle, King Street Cooperative Preschool, Powerful Schools, Orca K-8, Washington Middle School, and Pratt Fine Arts Center. In addition, she has been a school administrator, created art-based pilot programs, and designed hands-on arts curricula. Her volunteer work includes the Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series, the Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist Program, and the Seattle Public Schools In School Arts Program.

Gary Houk (Science; Innovations) B.A., University of California-Berkeley; M.B.A., Lehigh University; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania. Gary’s teaching experience includes teaching conceptual physics at Stevenson University and physics at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a physics teacher for St. Paul’s School in Baltimore for ten years where he also served as the faculty advisor for the Connections and the Tech Clubs, an 11th grade academic advisor, and a College Admissions Guidance Counselor. He also coached the cross country team and earned a Freeman Award for Excellence in Teaching.

David Johns (Mathematics) B.A., University of California at San Diego; M.E., Seattle University. David came to Seattle Academy after several years as a math instructor at Seattle Country Day School, while also serving as their athletic director. Before that, he was a middle school computer teacher and specialist in La Jolla, California. David says, simply, “I adore teaching and coaching! I thoroughly enjoy creating enthusiastic, dynamic, and challenging lessons that engage students.”

Libby Kady (Visual Arts) B.A., Xavier University; M.A., Indiana University. Libby has many years of experience teaching art at Eastside Catholic and Canterbury Lower and Middle School. In addition, she was an AmeriCorps volunteer, teaching the Jicarilla Apache community in New Mexico. As a graduate student, she taught drawing and painting in Wisbech, England, through her university’s cultural immersion program. Libby has also coached basketball and cross country.

Aimee Kanemori (Learning Support) B.A., Whitman College; M.I.T., Seattle University. Aimee’s experience includes teaching at Hamlin Robinson, Seattle Public Schools, and Open Window School. She has also taught English to elementary school students in Nagoya and in Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan, and was an activity coordinator for Service Civil International in Aalden, Netherlands. Past volunteer work includes teaching at El Centro de la Raza and tutoring at KidREACH with at-risk youth.

Taylor Kanemori (9th Grade Coordinator) B.A., Colorado College. Taylor’s experiences includes working as a day care provider for Kids Play, a camp counselor, a coach for U15 Youth Ultimate Frisbee, and a corps member at City Year (Americorps). Her responsibilities included coordinating daily structure for kids 6-11, developing lesson plans, and overseeing the coaching staff. She also provided classroom support in a 5th grade classroom, directed one-on-one and small group tutoring sessions, and served as a Behavior Coordinator where she created individualized lesson plans. She is a member of the national gold-medal winning Seattle Disc NW team.

Julia Kassissieh (Co-Head of Middle School; Dean of Faculty Leadership; English) B.A., California State University; M.A., Stanford University. Julia brings over a decade of experience as a teacher, principal, and school leadership consultant to her role at SAAS. She was a teacher and English Department Chair for the Los Altos and Modesto School Districts and a principal for the North Oakland Community Charter School. More recently she has worked at Education Northwest as a Senior Program Advisor in the Center for School and District Improvement (TN), at Teachscape, Inc., as a Senior Service Provider for the Washington State Summit District Improvement Initiative through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and at New Leaders where she served as the Senior Director of Implementation and Training as well as the National Director of Client Engagement and Leadership Practice Improvement, a program aimed at school principals and their instructional leadership teams.

Kate Kerr (Learning Support) B.S., Wheaton College; M.S., Northern Illinois University. Previous to SAAS, Katherine served as a special education teacher at Lakeland Union High School (WI). She has also designed and implemented curriculum for outdoor educational and leadership wilderness experiences and facilitated small groups in team building and adventure challenges. She is a member of the Mountaineers and has taken numerous mountaineering courses as well as low ropes/high ropes training. She has been a board member for the Literacy Task Force of Northern Wisconsin, a member of the Philanthropic Education Organization, and has competed in the Ski-to-Sea Fundraiser for Peak 7.

Dionna Kirton (10th Grade Coordinator; Coach) B.A., University of Hartford. Dionna is a graduate of Kings High School in Shoreline. She has coached volleyball for Kings, Eisenhower Middle School, and the Washington Volleyball Academy. In addition, she served as Camp Director, managing registration and overseeing coaches and staff for the Skyhawks Sports Academy.

Rebecca Klein (Foreign Language Department Chair; Spanish; Coach) B.A., Amherst College; M.A., Middlebury College. Rebecca came to Seattle Academy from Seattle Country Day School, where she taught levels I-III Spanish in grades 6-8. She has also taught Spanish at Northwest Yeshiva High School on Mercer Island and served an internship at the Institute of International Education in Mexico City. She currently works in the Seattle community as an ESL teacher and Spanish language tutor.

Catherine Klem (Mathematics) B.A., Middlebury College. Catherine has combined her interests in teaching mathematics, outdoor adventures, and sports into a successful career. Her experience includes teaching math and language arts at the Vail Mountain School (CO) and serving as math department chair at The Island School in The Bahamas where she developed and implemented curriculum as well as led overnight student expeditions and coached students to run half marathons. She has also served as a Hut Master with the Appalachian Mountain Club (NH), a Program Coordinator managing logistics for hiking and biking trips for Overland (MA), and teacher of trigonometry and calculus as well as a leader for backpacking trips for High Mountain Institute (CO).

Shelley Kunasek (Science) B.A., Pomona College; M.I.T., Ph.D,  University of Washington. Shelley taught science at the middle and high school level, as well as at the University of Washington and Highline Community College. She also served as a research assistant with the Earth and Space Sciences & Atmospheric Sciences and the UW. Shelley is the conference founder of the UW Graduate Climate Conference, and was a member of the Seattle Riot 2005 National Champion Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. In addition to living in West Africa, France, and Greenland, Shelley’s outside interests include crafting, gardening, hiking, and cross country skiing.

Anita Kuroiwa (Dance) B.A., M.A., Augustana College. Anita has danced, choreographed, and taught with many of the region’s major art and educational institutions, including Seattle Repertory Theater, Seattle Children’s Theater, Pacific Arts Center and Dance Studio, and Evergreen State College. She trained with, among others, the Chicago City Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. The former resident choreographer for the Paul Robeson Dance Theatre, Anita has previously been named one of Seattle’s outstanding teachers by the Seattle Times.

Alice Laskin (French) B.A., Scripps College; M.A., Middlebury College (France). Alice’s teaching experience includes teaching French in Seattle-area schools including Lakeside and South Seattle Community College, serving as a private French and English tutor as well as the French Program Director and swim instructor at Ascend International School (Mumbia), and volunteer work at Solidarite Roquette (Paris). In addition she has worked in the Extended Day program at UCDS and is passionate about 20th century French literature.

Rachel Leavitt-Baron ‘08 (Learning Support) B.A., Goucher College. Rachel has worked as an Inclusion Specialist for the Dever-McCormack K-8 School (MA), as a Special Education teacher and residential counselor for Wediko Children’s Services (NH) and McKinley Middle School (MA), and as a kindergarten teacher at University Child Development School (WA). In addition, she has been a swim instructor and lifeguard, a nanny, an auction procurement chair and development associate, and is working on her Master of Science degree in Special Education.

Lauren Lee (English; Coach) B.A., M.A., Occidental College. Lauren has been a coach for Girls on the Run (CA), a teacher at Destination Science (CA) and the Multicultural Summer Institute (Occidental College), and the president of Promoting Achievement for Underrepresented Students (CA). While at Island Academy in Belize, she was a mentor for high school students, a college recruitment manager, and a curriculum specialist. Most recently she served as a tutor for college students with learning disabilities at the Center for Academic Excellence. She speaks Spanish and is a rescue diver.

Sung Lee (Latin) B.S., Indiana University; M.E., Wayne State University. Before joining the Seattle Academy community, Sung was a one-on-one instructor for the Dartmoor Learning Institute in Bellevue, working with students in reading, math, English, and social studies. She taught Latin for four years at a private school in Detroit, where she also trained students in peer intervention, coached the varsity ski team, and founded and coached the snowboard team. She is particularly attracted to Seattle Academy’s combination of academic rigor and the arts.

Chia-Ching Lin (Mandarin Chinese) B.A., University of Washington. Chia-Ching is a native Mandarin Chinese teacher. She has taught Chinese for both elementary, middle, and high school students at The Bush School, Bertschi, Newcastle Elementary, Franklin High School, Garfield High School, and Ingraham High School. She has also worked as a tutor teaching Chinese for Seattle Languages International and as a calligraphy and Chinese cooking instructor in the San Juan Islands.

Emily Lin (Mandarin Chinese) B.A., Tamkang University; M.E., University of Hawaii. Emily taught Chinese in an all-girls middle and high school for six years in Honolulu. Prior to that, she mentored the University of Hawaii’s College of Education faculty and students in technological applications such as PowerPoint, WebCT, video production, Word, and electronic portfolios, while also assisting them with the integration of technology into the curriculum. Emily’s primary role at Seattle Academy is teaching Mandarin Chinese. She is also an experienced technology instructor and a valued contributor to Seattle Academy’s state-of-the-art technology curriculum.

Caitlin Lyons (Middle School Dean of Students) B.A., Colgate University; M.A., University of Washington. Caitlin’s teaching experience includes Learning Tree Montessori, St. Joseph School, Sanislo Elementary School, and St. Therese School. She has also been a substitute teacher at a number of area independent and parochial schools and for Seattle Public Schools. She has been a volunteer for middle and high school kids in the Madison Group Home (NY) and at the American Institute of Foreign Language (Italy). She has traveled extensively in South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia, and she played Division 1 soccer at Colgate.

Adam MacDonald (History) B.A., Lutheran Bible Institute; M.A., Western Michigan University. Adam’s experience includes being an English teacher at the Berlitz Language Institute, a graduate assistant teaching history at Western Michigan University, a writing center tutor and teaching associate at the University of Washington, and a paraeducator at the Overlake Specialty School. He has taught in a variety of capacities at the middle school and high school level including at schools such as Eastside Prep, The French-American School, St. Thomas, and Overlake, including developing Individualized Educational Programs for students. His hobbies include birding and Detroit sports.

Lewis Maday-Travis (Science; Robotics) B.A., Oberlin College. Lewis has taught for Woolman Semester in Californiai, Upward Bound in Massachusetts, and Camp Kingfisher in Georgia. Additional work includes serving as a naturalist intern for the Great Basin Outdoor School, a gardens intern at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and a transgender allyship trainer at the Oberlin Multicultural Resource Center. Travis has also been a tutor in English as a Second Language, statistics and computer skills, and environmental science.

Marie Maillet (French) English Literature and Civilisation Degree, Universite de Dijon; CAPES (Certifcat d’Aptitude au Professorat de l’Enseignement du Second degree), Education Nationale Civil Servant. Marie has taught French at the elementary, middle school, high school, and university levels. Her work experience includes Strathclyde University (Scotland), both elementary and middle schools in Burgundy (France), College and Lycee Louis Pasteur (Neuilly-sur-Seine), Lycee Paul Lapie (Courbevoie) and College Louis Bieriot and College Danton (Levallouis-Perret). She tutors, volunteers at children’s hospitals, and likes to run, swim, and play tennis.

Sandra Marulanda (Spanish) B.A., City University of New York; M.A., University of Washington. Sandra taught Spanish for seven years at Seattle University before arriving at SAAS and also directed the university’s study abroad program in Puebla, Mexico. In addition to her work at Seattle University, Sandra has taught Spanish at Cascadia Community College and the University of Washington as well as provided private Spanish instruction to a Latino summer camp. She is a member of the Hispanic Honor Society and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and designs jewelry in her spare time.

Megan McCall (Learning Support) B.A., Chaminade University. Megan joined Seattle Academy in 2005 after teaching at ASSETS School in Honolulu. She has a passion for helping students who struggle with school learn how to appreciate their many strengths and overcome issues that get in the way of academic success. Megan is a lifelong learner and tries to keep up on the latest research concerning learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorders, Anxiety, Gifted education, Assistive Technology and teaching and learning. Always on the lookout for professional development opportunities, Megan has organized groups of teachers to attend workshops, seminars, and school visits on a wide range of topics. In 2013, MEgan was chosen as a Washington Federation of Independent Schools Outstanding Teacher.

Dan McNamee (Mathematics; Coach) B.A., Providence College; M.Ed., University of Texas. Prior to moving to Seattle, Dan taught mathematics at St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas, and taught math and coached tennis at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Dan has been a tennis professional for many years and was a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association.

Bill Metcalfe (History; Coach) B.A., University of Georgia; M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia. Bill became a full-time teacher at Seattle Academy in 2006 after serving as an often-requested substitute. Before coming to Seattle, Bill taught in the University of Virginia’s Department of Government and Foreign Affairs. He has coached swimming at the YMCA and founded a community arts program in North Carolina. In 2012, Bill was selected as a National Association of Independent Schools Teacher of the Future.

Amos Miller (Music) B.A., Cornish College of the Arts. In addition to conducting vocal workshops for the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Girls’ School, United Indian Youth Home, and the Rotary Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Amos has worked for the Power of Hope where he worked with over three hundred students from Seattle Public Schools and the YMCA Metro Center. He also facilitated after-school workshops at Seattle-area community centers and schools and for Arts Corps. He managed a youth-run record label whose students were invited to perform at the White House and received a Grammy award for his sound engineering work. Most recently, he has been teaching hip hop and live recording workshops for Coyote Central and Seattle Academy.

Jamie Monkkonen (Science) B.S., University of South Carolina; M.S. University of Washington. Jamie’s professional experience includes teaching math and science for Lakeside Middle School, working as a teaching assistant for the Fluid Dynamics graduate course at the UW, and teaching science and math and acting as a dorm parent at Annie Wright Schools. Jamie also served as a Research Assistant at Princeton University and NOAA as well as a researcher at Friday Harbor Laboratories and the Oceanography Department at UW. Personal interests include hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, choir, and swing dancing.

Marc Moquin (Assistant Athletic Director; Coach) B.A., University of California at Santa Barbara; M.A., Seattle Pacific University. Before joining Seattle Academy in 2008, Marc served fourteen years as public relations director and assistant director for the Seattle SuperSonics. He also taught in an after-school center in Kentfield, California. He works as the Assistant Athletic Director and also coaches.

Melinda Mueller (Science) B.S., University of Washington; M.S., Central Washington University. Says Melinda, “Teaching is the only thing other than writing that is never tedious. It’s challenging on so many levels–intellectually, intuitively, creatively, and physically. I have to draw on every talent.” A founding Seattle Academy faculty member, she is both a scientist and a published poet. Melinda has been the lead teacher for DNA workshops at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and has written nationally-published health brochures for students. She has been honored for her work in creating a partnership between Seattle Academy and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and is a lead teacher for their Science Education Partnership program.

Rick Mueller (History) B.A., Stanford University; M.A. Johns Hopkins University; M.Ed. University of Washington. Rick’s teaching experience includes serving as a substitute teacher for the Ravenswood School District, a teaching assistant of macroeconomics at Johns Hopkins University, and a student teacher at both Garfield and Sammamish High Schools. Rick has worked on the Interactive Field Experience at Cascade Middle School and he was a principal at Energy Security Analysis from 2001-12, analyzing world oil markets and heading their European office. Prior to coming to SAAS, Rick taught history at Lakeside School.

Alicia Mullikin (Dance) B.F.A., Cornish College of the Arts. Alicia has over ten years of experience as both a performer and a choreographer / teacher. Her performance venues include the American College Dance Festival, The Pink Door, Velocity Dance Center, the BOOST Dance Festival, and the Seattle International Dance Festival. She has taught and choreographed at a wide range of organizations including the Jack Benny Youth Center, Central Park Community Center, Inland Valley Dance Academy, AB Miller High School, Rainier Dance Center, Bainbridge Ballet, and Exit Space School of Dance. Alicia has been a guest choreographer at SAAS for several years before joining the faculty this year.

Jennifer Nelson (Middle School Counselor) B.S., University of Wisconsin; M.A. Ed.S, Seattle University. Jennifer has served as on-site manager for A Better Chance School in California, Mental Health Counselor for Kitsap Mental Health and Family Services in Bremerton, and Counselor and School Psychologist at Lifespan Psychological Services on Bainbridge Island. Her most recent experience includes Middle School Counselor and Middle School Life Skills teacher at Lakeside School.

Mike Park (Mathematics) B.A., Washington College; M.A., University of Maryland. A former medic in the Israeli army and a scientific programmer/analyst for Magnavox, Mike was an associate professor of mathematics at Purdue University. He came to Seattle Academy from Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he taught math and computer science.

Scott Pattison (Physical Education; Coach) B.A. Roanoke College. Scott began his coaching and teaching career in Colorado where he was the assistant coach for the Mile High Magic. He coached for Starz Navy (9th grade select traveling lacrosse team) and Lake Washington High School before accepting the head coaching position of the first SAAS lacrosse team. He has also taught for the Community Learning Center Program through the YMCA, been an intern for the Seattle Mariners,  been the Program Director for the Xcelerate Lacrosse Seattle team, and was the founder of Supersonics Lacrosse. As a college player, Scott competed in two NCAA final four games for Division 3 Lacrosse.

Janneke Petersen (Science) B.S., Bates College; M.S., University of Washington. Janneke has a wealth of experience as an environmentalist and a teacher. She has worked as an environmental planner for The City of Lafayette, CA; as an Audubon naturalist for the Audubon Society; as an intern for the Bay Area Green Business Program; and as a Clean Air Campaign Organizer for the State of Maine Clean Air Bureau. Her teaching experience includes the Emandal Environmental Education Camp, Slide Ranch (organic farming), Outdoor Adventure Lead for Higher Ground, environmental master teacher for Aim High, graduate instructor at Islandwood Outdoor Environmental Learning Center, and graduate teacher for the University of Washington’s Scandinavian Studies Department.

Kathi Petrotta (Learning Support) B.S., California Polytechnic State University; M.E., Seattle University. Kathi joined Seattle Academy’s faculty in 2007 after teaching math and science at St. Therese School in Seattle and all core subjects at Snoqualmie Middle School for eight years. Before moving to Seattle, she worked in the Department of Planning and Development for Santa Clara County.

Rob Phillips (Associate Head of School; History; Coach) B.A., Seattle Pacific University; M.B.A., Seattle University. A long-time member of the Seattle Academy faculty, Rob now serves as Assistant Head of School. Broadly educated in anthropology, comparative religion, history, and literature, Rob draws heavily from that education and his cultural experiences with his classes. His background is rich in cross-cultural work. An avid outdoor person, Rob guides regular student trips to Alaska and the Arctic Circle. Rob has been named one of Seattle’s outstanding teachers by the Seattle Times, and has earned numerous “Coach of the Year” awards from both the Emerald City and SeaTac Leagues. Rob coached the girls’ varsity soccer team to the state championship in 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2011, and directed the girls’ track & field team to a state title.

Joe Puggelli (Head of School; English) B.A., State University of New York; M.A., Penn State. Joe served as Assistant Head of School for twelve years. A teacher in Seattle Academy’s well-known, challenging American Studies classes, Joe was chairman of the English department at both Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma and The McBurney School in New York City. Joe has written extensively about the theory and practice of teaching/coaching, and in 1993 he won the prestigious Newsweek/Sallie-Mae “Inspiring Teacher” Award. Joe says of his varied experiences in education from coast to coast: “Kids are kids everywhere, and I love kids.” A veteran of the U.S. Army who was twice decorated during the Viet Nam War, Joe also has extensive experience in business as owner/publisher of a magazine, a management consultant, and is the author of a writing handbook, a novel, and an original play produced Off-Broadway.

David Pynchon (Innovations) B.A., St. Lawrence University. David brings experience as a web media and analytics specialists. He has worked at Nature Up North and Puget Sound Creative on a wide range of tasks including creating, managing, and posting digital media assets for web and print use. David has developed and led educational workshops and events, and automated web and social media reporting processes. He has also designed CMS based websites, created content for web and print-based outlets, and developed and implemented marketing strategies for clients.

Alison Ray (Dean of Faculty-Humanities; English Department Chair) B.A., M.E., University of Washington. Alison began her teaching career at Roosevelt and Woodinville high schools where she served as literary magazine advisor, advised student diversity awareness organizations, and was senior class advisor. Before joining Seattle Academy, Alison taught English and AP Literature and served as English department chair at Escuela Americana in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Melanie Reed (Director of College Advising) B.A., University of Puget Sound; M.A., Middlebury College. Before her arrival at Seattle Academy, Melanie acted as Director of Freshman Admission at the University of Puget Sound. She brings twenty years of experience in admission and financing at the college level, presenting nationally, serving on boards, and visiting high schools and colleges around the world. She also brings a lifelong love of literature, visual art, art history, dance, film, and museum-going.

Steve Retz (History Department Chair) B.A., St. Olaf College; M.A., Brown University. Prior to SAAS, Steve taught high school students and adults in Tangier, Morocco, and also worked as a site coordinator in an after-school tutoring program for at-risk children. Says Steve, “I want to help students learn that history is so much more than names and dates. The really important questions to ask about history go beyond ‘what happened,’ and focus on ‘how’ and ‘why.’ This makes history relevant for us in the present.” Steve leads a contingent of SAAS youth legislature students to Olympia each year to write bills that frequently make it onto the docket for debate on the senate and house floor.

Megan Roberts (Learning Support) B.A., University of California-San Diego; M.A., Loyola Marymount University; Post Master’s Certificate, California State University-Northridge. Megan’s career began in the Admissions and Academic office of Rolling Hills Prep School, where she also taught history. She subsequently became a Learning Specialist at Rolling Hills, working one-on-one and in small groups with 6th-12th grade students with learning challenges. In this role she also designed and implemented individual learning plans to best serve the needs of her students.

Rebekah Rocha (Photography) B.F.A., University of the Arts; M.F.A., Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. After building an impressive professional and educational portfolio in the world of photography and graphic design, Rebekah began teaching for SAAS in 2005. She also teaches for the Photographic Center Northwest. Rebekah has worked and studied in Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Italy, winning countless awards for her outstanding work.

Elin Rummel (6th Grade Writing; Latin) B.A., Oberlin College; M. A., University of Washington. Elin has taught Latin at John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Laurelhurst Elementary, and Oberlin College. In addition, Elin was a counselor for Broadway Bound, running week-long day camps for elementary and middle school children, and has presented original translations of Ovid’s Amores at a poetry festival at the Henry Art Gallery.

Jim Rupp (Director of Admission) B.A., University of Washington. Jim came to Seattle Academy after an eight-year stint as public relations director for the Seattle SuperSonics and eight years as corporate communications officer at Washington Mutual Savings Bank. He owned and edited a string of weekly sports newspapers and was a nightly talk show host for KIRO Radio. In addition to his full-time duties as admission director, Jim produces marketing videos for Seattle Academy and manages the school’s public relations initiatives.

Cathy Schick (Athletic Director) B.S., St. Francis Xavier University; M.S., University of Idaho. Cathy started at SAAS in 2002 and has been the Athletic Director since 2008. Prior to joining SAAS, Cathy was director of marketing for Baden Sports and has coached basketball for the University of British Columbia, Montana State University, and University of Idaho. Cathy is an avid hiker, runner, and outdoors person.

Chuck Sekyra (11th Grade Coordinator; History; Coach) B.A., Seattle Pacific University. Chuck brings a wide range of experiences to his role at SAAS. He has worked as a steel broker and a counselor at a foster home for abused boys. He taught U.S. History, World History, and Political Science for several years at Bishop Blanchet High School. As Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Seattle Pacific University from 2003-2015, his team went to the NCAA Tournament twelve years in a row, making three final four appearances and winning the Championship in 2008. Chuck has also served as the coaching director for NW Nationals Soccer Club and the West Region Girls Olympic Developmental Soccer Head Staff Coach.

Ali Seyedali (Middle School Coordinator; Math, Science) B.S., Whitworth University; Ph.D., University of Hawaii. Ali has worked as a Research Technician for the University of Washington, a graduate researcher for the University of Hawaii, and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology with the University of Hawaii. His teaching experience includes Leeward Community College (HI), Punahou School (HI), The Bush School (WA), and Brightmont Academy (WA). In addition, he has served as a guest lecturer, a student mentor, and has coached soccer.

Erin Schwartz (Learning Support) B.S., Lipscomb University; M.S., Georgia Institute of Technology. Erin has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in both Georgia and Washington. She has worked as a policy analyst for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget in Atlanta and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and she has been a research assistant for the National Science Foundation. She has coached basketball and volleyball and been a committee member for the Women in Science and Technology Conference.

Amanda Smart (Spanish) B.A., Barnard College; M.A., The New School. Amanda has taught Spanish at The Bush School (WA), U.S. history and civics at the Colegio Dominico-Americano (Dominican Republic), a one-month Spanish Intensive immersion program at Prescott College (AZ), and GIS for International Crisis, Development, and the Environment at The New School (NY). In addition Amanda has conducted research and analysis for Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (NY), the International Field Program of The New School (NY), data2insight (WA), and AdvisArts Consulting (WA).

Sarah Smith (Learning Support) B.A., Emory University; certification, Oglethorpe University.  Sarah operated her own company for several years prior to arriving at Seattle Academy, tutoring in math, science, English, and history, as well as conducting SAT preparation classes. She taught math and science at Seattle’s Meany Middle School when she arrived in Seattle from Georgia and, before that, Boston, where she taught middle school math and science. Joining the SAAS ranks of multi-faceted faculty and staff, Sarah has also been a member of the United States national rowing team, and was an alternate on the United States Olympic Rowing Team in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

Linda Spangler (Assistant Director of Admission) B.A., Boise State University. Since joining the school in 1989, Linda has experienced SAAS from many perspectives. Before becoming Assistant Director of Admission, she also served as Executive Assistant and school secretary. Often the first contact an applicant family has with SAAS, Linda plans and orchestrates the visit days, processes all applicant files, assists 6th grade teachers with various trips and events throughout the school year, and enjoys planning the annual 8th grade Moving Up ceremony.

Ali Stewart-Ito (English; Physical Education) B.A., University of Washington; M.I.T., University of Washington. Ali spent the past year in Oberusel, Germany, leading a student writing center (grades 6-12), and coaching girls’ soccer. Her teaching experiences include teaching language arts and creative writing in Hawaii, The Netherlands, Germany, and Seattle. She has also taught Visual Arts and social studies, been a writer/research assistant for The Stranger, and tutored Cambodia refugees as well as coached basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball at the high school level. In her spare time, Ali creates and sells quirky novelty items on Etsy.

Fred Strong (Dean of Faculty-Arts, Athletics, PE; Arts Department Chair) B.A., Maharishi International University; M.A., Bryn Mawr College. Fred brings a broad perspective to his position of Dean of Faculty, having worked as a 6th – 12th grade English teacher and as Middle School Head. Fred previously taught English at The Baldwin School in Pennsylvania and was head of the middle school at The Allen-Stevenson School in New York City. He is fascinated by the big ideas in the future of education. A fixed-gear bike fanatic and accomplished French horn player, one of Fred’s out-of-school activities is producing rock and hip-hop shows that combine high school musicians with Seattle’s best professional talent.

Lysie Taylor (Science; Innovations; Robotics) B.S., Le Moyne College; M.S., Clarkson University. Lysie taught environmental science, environmental engineering, biology, and chemistry at The Winchendon School (MA). While at Winchendon, she also designed science curriculum, lead the Women in STEM Club, mentored first-year science faculty, was a dorm parent, and coached volleyball, swimming, and FIRST Robotics. She was also a research assistant at Clarkson University where her work focused on the design and development of in-situ water quality sensors with a specialization in nutrient analysis.

David Thomas (Associate Director of College Advising) B.A., Colgate University; M.Ed., University of South Carolina. David has worked on both sides of the college admission process. At the college level, he has served as Assistant Dean of Admissions and Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions for Wesleyan University and worked as an admission counselor for Marymount Manhattan College. On the high school side, he has worked as the Assistant Director of College Counseling for the Brownell-Talbot School in Omaha, NE, where he counseled students regarding college lists, resumes, and essays, wrote recommendation letters, and taught a college counseling course.

Zac Townsend (8th Grade Coordinator; Coach) Seattle Central Community College. Zac has over ten years of experience working with youth in a variety of positions. He has worked with The Northwest School for the past four years as a Summer Program Assistant, Residential Advisor, Student Diversity Conference leader, and a Campbassador Coordinator, where he provided community outreach and recruitment of high school leadership candidates as well as providing training and mentoring for these young leaders. He has also worked with the A Plus Youth Program as a life coach, a basketball coach, and as Assistant Development Coordinator. Other coaching experience includes head coach for the Bainbridge Island High School junior varsity basketball team and assistant coach for the varsity team as well as camp director and coach for the Marvin Williams & Josh Childress Basketball Camp.

Barton Truscott (History; Coach) B.A., Wesleyan University; M.A.T., Occidental College. Barton spent ten years at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, where he served as history department co-chair. Prior to his stint at Charles Wright, he was a teacher and administrator at two independent schools in California. His teaching focus has been U.S. history, including AP curriculum. Barton has also played competitive tennis and squash over the years and at one time long ago he sang in a professional boys’ choir.  In 2000, he published a book on economics activities for high school teachers and students.

Christine Tschirgi (Costumer) B.A., San Diego State University; M.F.A., University of Washington. Chris is a costume designer for theatre, dance, and circus. Highlights of her local work include designs for Degenerate Art Ensemble, 5th Avenue Theater, Washington Ensemble Theater, Storybook Theatre, Cornish Dance Theater, and for Circus Contraption’s Show to End All Shows. Chris has worked nationally at Center Theater Group, Shakespeare & Company, and Pasadena Playhouse, Performing Arts Company of Jackson Hole, and internationally at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Kinoshita Circus in Japan.

Joel Underwood (English; History; Speech and Debate) B.A., Northwestern University; certification, Metropolitan State College in Denver. Joel returned to SAAS in 2006 after teaching in North Carolina for the previous four years. Under his leadership, SAAS has captured the state Speech and Debate championship the past seven years. He has also coached numerous national competitors and been instrumental in the founding of the school’s Rhetoric Department. He is an accomplished musician who has his own performing group. In 2011, Joel was named a National Association of Independent Schools Teacher of the Future.

Brian Urrutia (English) B.A., Reed College; M.A., University of Georgia. Brian was a graduate teaching instructor and adjunct professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. He was also a teaching assistant at Catlin Gabel, a counselor at Camp Imagination (K-5), and a youth hockey coach. In his spare time, he is a potter/ceramicist, competes in triathlons, and plays the guitar, drums, and piano.

Joey Walker (Learning Support) B.A., Multnomah University. Joey brings a wide range of experiences to his role at SAAS. He has worked at Blazers Boys’ and Girls’ Club where he ran after-school programs for a diverse group of students including tutoring, fitness, conflict resolution, and finance management. He also coordinated multi-team athletic leagues. In addition he served as a Skills Trainer for Trillium Family Services where he was responsible for providing supervision and care for clients in the Residential Treatment program. He also volunteered at Nations where he led college groups on cultural immersion trips to the Blackfeet Reservation.

Jingran Wan (Chinese) B.A., Hohai University; M.Ed., The University of Sydney. Jingran has taught English, writing, and reading in China at the Jiangsu Medical School of Chinese Medicine, the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and Zijin College. In addition, she was an English teacher, Foreign Teacher Coordinator, and Deputy Director of Advanced English at the School of Foreign Language at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. She has volunteered at the Northwest Chinese School and Challenger Elementary School, as well as been a translator and completed voice over work for the Nanjing Broadcasting Cooperation.

James Watson (English; Student Newspaper) B.A., Vanderbilt University; M.A., University of Montana. James taught elementary and intermediate Spanish at the University of Montana prior to coming to Seattle Academy. He also taught intermediate English classes in Merida, Venezuela at the Institute of International Studies and Modern Languages. In his spare time, James has led student summer trips to Central America, including trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala, and he enjoys fly-fishing and partner-dancing.

Mindy Watson (Dean of Faculty-STEM; Mathematics Department Chair) B.S. and preliminary certification, San Diego State University. Head of the Upper School since 2009, Mindy joined SAAS as a member of the math department and continues to teach a range of math classes across grades. In 2000 Mindy became Dean of Students, and in that role, focused on Upper School student life and student discipline. She was a founding coach of the girls’ Volleyball program and served as assistant varsity coach from 2005-2009 of the girls’ varsity basketball team. Mindy has coordinated and accompanied numerous outdoor and foreign trips to destinations such as Zambia, China, southeast Alaska, the Canyonlands, and the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Prior to Seattle Academy, Mindy taught and coached at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma.

Mark Wensnahan (Science) B.S., M.S., Ph.D., University of Washington. Mark has taught at both the high school and post-secondary level. His experience includes serving as a student teacher at Ballard High School and as an instructor at Green River Community College and the University of Washington, where he taught physics, environmental sciences, and atmospheric sciences. He was also a curriculum designer for the University of Washington. In his spare time, Mark is a judge for the National History Day competition in Western Washington (since 2005), and he was a coach for the Seattle Youth Soccer Association (2000-14) and a Sunday School teacher (2004-14).

Chelsea Wilcox (Mathematics; Robotics) B.S., New York University; M.A., Columbia University. Chelsea has been a teacher, advisor, curriculum consultant, and volleyball coach at The Williamsburg Charter High School, The Believe High Schools Network, The James Baldwin School, and The Center School, all in New York City. She has also tutored for the Door Tutoring Service and Kaplan Kids. She received the President’s Service Award for Volunteerism at NYU and served as an intern at the New York City Department of Education.

Nick Williams (Mathematics) B.A., Williams College; M.Ed., Framingham State University. Nick’s teaching experience includes serving as a contract curriculum developer in biology, mathematics, and history for Study.com, founding and directing 21C Online Tutoring Cooperative, where he tutored students for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT and guided students through the college application process, and being an educator and college advisor at Escuela Las Morochas – Cuidad Ojeda Zulia in Venezuela. He also has experience as a marketing consultant and graphic designer.

Margaret Young (Learning Support) B.S., California State University Northridge; M.Ed. George Washington University. Margaret has developed curriculum in multiple subjects at the middle school and high school level in her work with Walker Jones Education Campus (DC), Washington International School (DC), Holy Trinity School (DC), and St. Matthew’s Parish School (CA). She has also worked as a nanny, traveling internationally, a volleyball coach, and as a Program Support Officer and Grant Writer for the International Organization for Migration in Islamabad. She enjoys endurance racing and has competed in The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge.

Bailey Zahniser ’08 (Visual Arts; Coach) B.S., University of Oregon. While obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts, Bailey concentrated in drawing. She has taught arts classes to elementary and middle school children at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene, Oregon. She has also served as a coach for the Seattle Riot’s Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Clinics and for the Seattle Youth Ultimate Frisbee Camp. She served as the captain of the University of Oregon’s Frisbee Team for two years, leading the team to a national championship.

Spring Zoog (Learning Support) B.A., Miami University, Ohio. Spring has been an Accelerated Progress Program Teacher for Thurgood Marshall and Lowell Elementary as well as a substitute for the Seattle Public Schools. She has also served as a Faculty Associate for the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Planning at UW. In addition she has been a Senior Administrative Analyst at Group Health Cooperative. She was awarded the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom Award through the Seattle Seahawks.