Home > About Us > Meet the Staff > Lower School

Lower School

Matthew Knoles
Lower School Principal

Matthew Knoles taught for 10 years in public elementary schools in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Ventura before joining the Providence faculty in 2014. He holds a masters degree in educational policy and leadership and a preliminary administrative credential (California State University Northridge, 2010). He completed the California teaching credential program (Chapman University, 2004) after earning a bachelors degree in sociology (UCSB, 2000). 


Kara Baker
2185808_origKindergarten Teacher

Kara Baker is a graduate of the Westmont Teacher Credential Program and received a Liberal Studies degree from Westmont College in 2012. She has extensive experience in the classroom through her student teaching and pre-professional work in instructional assisting in the Santa Barbara community as well as internationally, both in public and private education. Mrs. Baker has developed a strong understanding of student development and enjoys sharing a relationship with each student based on his or her interests, personality, and faith. 


Hayden Stoner
First Grade Teacher

Hayden Stoner earned a degree in elementary education from Wheaton College. She grew up in Santa Barbara and moved to Denver, Colorado in 2014 to teach first grade in Denver for three years. She is passionate about teaching and helping students to grow both academically and spiritually. She joined the Providence School faculty in 2018.


Tiffany Massey
Second Grade Teacher

Tiffany Massey holds three degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned a bachelor’s in English in 2006, a master’s in 2008, and a multi-subject teaching credential and additional master’s degree in 2012. Her studies have focused on teaching math and writing. She joined the El Montecito School faculty in 2012.


Peter Trabucco
Second Grade Teacher

Peter Trabucco holds a degree in business economics from the University of California Santa Barbara and a multiple subject teaching credential. has been shaping the lives of second graders at El Montecito School since 1997. Peter and his wife, Laura, raised twin daughters. An avid photographer, Peter enjoys off-road adventures and has driven solo from Mexico to Canada.


Andy White
Third Grade Teacher

Andy White earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Westmont College and a master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University. He joined the El Montecito School faculty in 1998 and has taught mostly in the third-grade classroom. He loves to make learning fun, often using silly voices or catchy songs to help students remember what they are learning. He has a passion for worship and spiritual development and frequently incorporates both into chapel and classroom time. Outside of school, he teaches guitar and leads worship at his churc

He and his wife, Angela, have two children, both of whom attended Elmo and one whom attended Providence School.


Mrs. Christa JonesChrista Jones
Fourth Grade Teacher

Christa Jones earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and Mildly Mentally Handicapped Education from Huntington University in Indiana and a Master’s Degree in Education from Indiana Wesleyan. Mrs. Jones has been in the teaching profession since 1992 and joined the former Santa Barbara Christian School faculty in 2009. She and her husband, Doug, have two sons, one a Providence alum and one an Upper School student. 


Kayla Monson
Fourth Grade Teacher

Kayla Monson earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a Spanish concentration and a teaching credential from Westmont College. She did her student and pre-professional teaching at Adams Elementary, Hope Elementary, and La Patera Elementary. Miss Monson is excited to join the Providence faculty in 2019 because of the opportunity to integrate faith and academics in impacting students to love learning and reach their full potential.


Mrs. Jennifer SuleimanJennifer Suleiman
Fifth Grade Teacher

Jennifer Suleiman earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of California Santa Barbara and a multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento. She is in the process of becoming nationally board certified—a very rigorous, prestigious, and rare level of certification. Mrs. Suleiman joined the former Santa Barbara Christian School faculty in 2010 where she ran the K-8 art program and taught 5th-grade language arts. In 2013, she was honored to become a fellow of the South Coast Writing Project—an organization that is dedicated to training up young writers in the classroom. She is passionate about teaching children to love writing and to love Jesus.


April Torres
Sixth Grade Teacher

April Torres holds a master’s degree in education and secondary-level science credential from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. She has served El Montecito Schol as sixth-grade lead teacher since 2015, after nearly 20 years as a teacher and tutor at Cold Spring School, La Cumbre Middle School, homeschools, and El Montecito School, where she joined the faculty in 2007.

Mrs. Torres enjoys leading students to see how every day they can point with gratitude for their minds and for Jesus’ lordship within revelation, discovery, and the special creation of humanity (how small we are and at the same time, how important we are to be the focus of God’s love). She considers it a privilege to develop deep, committed relationships with students and families based on a common mission that goes beyond meeting educational goals.

April and her husband, “G,” are the parents of three daughters and a son. All have attended Providence; the two oldest daughters are Providence alums now attending Cal Poly and Westmont, the younger daughter attends Carpinteria High School, and their son is a Providence Middle School student. 


Mary Wilson
Sixth Grade

Mary Wilson has been a teaching professional since 2007. She joined the Providence Lower School faculty in 2017 after teaching fifth and sixth grades at Oaks Christian School in Thousand Oaks, CA, and at Pleasant Valley Christian in Camarillo, CA. Mrs. Wilson believes a teacher plays a critical role in the life of a student and loves finding ways to make learning engaging, fun, and enriching. She has many strengths, including curriculum development, strong leadership, love for students, and an excitement for Christian education.


Ana Bayet
Spanish Teacher

Ana Bayet earned degrees from Université USHS (Strasbourg, France)and the European University of Madrid, Spain. Since 2000, she has worked as a Spanish teacher, art teacher, and translator for schools and businesses around the world, including in Santa Barbara. 


Beth Cooke
Math & Educational Support Specialist

Beth Cooke is an East Coast transplant and attended Cornell, Colgate, and Bard, all New York-based schools. She has advanced degrees in teaching and technical writing as well as certifications in adaptive behaviors and educational development. Ms. Cooke has taught multiple subjects in high school, including all levels of math and Advanced Placement English. She homeschooled her five children and is passionate about helping her students learn. She is committed to crafting creative lessons and honoring a variety of learning styles.


Jeremiah Anderson
Physical Education

Jeremiah Anderson joined the Providence School faculty in 2019. He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Westmont College, and, while studying there, he played on the men’s soccer team for four years. His parents are both teachers at The Harker School in San Jose; his father teaches physical education and his mother teaches kindergarten. This coming school year, he hopes to use his passion for sports and movement to lead students into self confidence, loving an active lifestyle, and a closer relationship with Christ.


Sarah EglinSarah Eglin
Music Teacher

Sarah Eglin has been teaching music, directing, accompanying, and performing in the Santa Barbara area since 1999. A native of Alexander, New York, she graduated from the State University of New York College at Fredonia, with a B.M. in Piano Performance and a B.M.E. in Music Education, and worked with the New York State Summer School of the Arts Choral Studies program for four years as a studio accompanist and instructor. Ms. Eglin is the musical director for Stage Left Summer Theater Program, and has also directed over 30 local musicals since 2001 at Dos Pueblos High School, Santa Barbara High School, Crane Country Day School, Goleta Valley Junior High, UpStage Left, and Lobero Theater Camp.  Ms. Eglin taught for many years through Children’s Creative Project, a local non-profit supporting arts education in our local elementary schools. She taught music at Crane Country Day School and at Hope and Monte Vista Elementary Schools before coming to Providence. In addition to her classroom teaching, she worked at El Montecito Presbyterian Church as the Interim Children’s Ministry Director for two years, as well as the Children’s Choir Director and the Sanctuary Choir Accompanist for 12 years. 


Mary Afman
Assistant Teacher

Mary Afman has nearly 30 years of teaching experience in the early elementary grades. She taught first grade at El Montecito School and Providence School from 2000–2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She and her husband, Gregg, have a son, a daughter, and two grandchildren. 


Tessa Dohm
Assistant Teacher

Tessa (Emerson) Dohm has the unique position of having taught on the faculties of Providence School, El Montecito School, and Providence, SBCS. She attended ELMO when she was in Pre-K and early elementary school! After attending Santa Barbara High School she was awarded a basketball scholarship to Pepperdine University. She graduated as a “Wave” and then earned a teaching credential at Pepperdine as well.

Mrs. Dohm loves the community here at Providence like they are family. She and her husband, Paul Dohm, look forward to the arrival of their first child in fall 2019.


Katy McDaniel
Assistant Teacher

Katy McDaniel has a bachelor of arts in English from San Diego State University and subsequently earned her single-subject (English and drama) teaching credential from San Francisco State University. She taught middle school for many years in the Bay Area before choosing to stay home with her three children. Mrs. McDaniel returned to teaching as a long-term substitute at Coastline Christian School, before joining the Providence faculty in 2018-19. She enjoys building relationships with students and teachers in order to foster learning.


Ms. Jill CunninghamJill McLemore
Assistant Teacher

Jill McLemore holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a multiple subject teaching credential from Westmont College. After receiving her credential in 2006, she began working for the former El Montecito School as a full-time substitute teacher and teacher’s aide. In 2008, she began teaching first grade at the former Santa Barbara Christian School which later became Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School.  She taught first grade there for 10 years. She has been a part-time faculty member of Providence School since 2018 while she and her husband raise their young son.


Jessica Prahm
Science Teacher, Grades 2–5

Jessica Prahm has 20 years of experience in education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California Santa Barbara and holds a multiple subject teaching credential with an emphasis on cultural language and diversity. Before joining the El Montecito School faculty in 2004 she taught fifth grade for several years in Cupertino, California, where she sat on the Best Practices Leadership and Design Team and was involved in training fellow staff in reading strategy implementation. She has also served as the Director of Education at the Sylvan Learning Center in Belmont, California, where she hired and trained teachers to implement various intervention programs. As a science teacher, her passion is creating a hands-on approach to learning and investigating science and God’s creation. Jessica and her husband, Ryan, have three children, two of whom are currently part of the Providence family. Ryan serves on the Board of Directors.


Evie Prohaska
Instructional Aide

Evie Prohaska is a seasoned educator. She worked as an instructional aide at Vieja Valley Elementary School from 2004 until she made the move to Providence in 2016. Mrs. Prohaska’s gentle spirit and creative talents are a gift to Providence. She and her husband are the parents of three grown sons.


Rhonda Yager
Fine Arts Teacher

Rhonda Yager has taught elementary school students in some capacity for over 25 years. She earned bachelor’s degree at Westmont College in 1993 and completed her teaching credential work at Cal State University, Northridge. She began teaching at El Montecito Early School in 1994 in a part-time role and then taught first grade for five years at El Montecito School before starting a family. She continued in part-time roles at ELMO and then began teaching art for K-3 and eventually K-6 students. A lifelong learner, Mrs. Yager enjoys taking art workshops to get new and creative ideas for the classroom. She finds joy as an art teacher in the amazing ways we can explore God’s creation through art, discovering the fantastic colors and patterns in nature as well as our innate desire to create and each child’s ability to worship our creator through art.  She also enjoys being part of a community of educators that works together to bring out the best in each child.

Rhonda and her husband, Josh, have three children, all of whom attended ELMO from Preschool Room One through sixth grade. 


Julie SommersJulie Sommers
San Roque Campus (PS-6) Office Manager

Julie Sommers has worked as a Christian educator for many years in churches and for the past 16 years in administration at El Montecito School. She holds a master’s degree in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Westmont College. She and her husband Dave are the parents of three grown children, including Hannah, the 2012 Providence valedictorian. 


Annette Hidalgo
San Roque Campus Receptionist

Annette came to El Montecito School in 2015 after serving the Buellton School district for 16 years as office manager. She is the warm and cheerful greeting for almost everyone who walks through the reception office on the San Roque campus. Annette’s dedication to serving wherever she is needed has led her to a variety of campus jobs where she has enjoyed getting to know faculty and students alike.