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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
Kindergarten Assistant

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.

Mary Afman
First Grade Teacher

Mary Afman has nearly 30 years of teaching experience in the early elementary grades. She has been teaching first grade at El Montecito School since 2000 and is pleased to now be a part of the Providence community. 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 Emerson
First Grade Teacher

Tessa Emerson has the unique position of having worked at both Providence, SBCS and El Montecito School and is excited to be a member of the melded schools here at Providence. She attended ELMO herself 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.

Miss Emerson is excited to be teaching first grade this year. She loves the community here at Providence and she considers the staff and students and families as her extended family. She is engaged and planning a November wedding and will “graduate” from Miss Emerson to Mrs. Dohm.

Erryn Foster
First Grade Teacher

Erryn Foster earned a bachelor of science degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an elementary teaching credential from California State University, San Marcos. She has been a part of the El Montecito School community as a parent since 2012 and as a teaching assistant since 2017. She enjoys being a part of planting the seeds of learning and fostering growth in children as they develop in their relationship with Christ. Erryn and her husband, Bryan, have three children, all of whom attend Providence Lower School.

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.

Mrs. Christa Jones

Christa Jones
Third 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. 

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 church.

He and his wife, Angela, have two children, both of whom attended Elmo. Their son is a current Providence student. 

Tiffany Massey
Fourth 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.

Mrs. Jennifer Suleiman

Jennifer 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.

Mary Wilson
Fifth 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.

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 SLO and Westmont, the younger daughter attends Carpinteria High School, and their son is a Providence Middle School student. 

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.

CorazzaDebbie Corazza

Debbie Corazza earned a B.A. in English and French from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. in English and American Literature from Claremont Graduate School. She earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at Point Loma Nazarene University and has many years of classroom experience. She joined the Providence faculty as the librarian in 2013 and is dedicated to instilling a love for reading in children. Mrs. Corazza and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four SBCS graduates.

Sarah EglinSarah Eglin
Music Teacher

Ms. 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. 

Lauren Matthias
Physical Education Teacher

Lauren Matthias graduated from Westmont College in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She has years of experience working with elementary-aged children as a summer sports counselor and substitute teacher. She joined the Providence faculty in 2017, replacing none other than her own husband, Blake Matthias. Mrs. Matthias also is a women’s soccer coach at Westmont.

Ms. Jill CunninghamJill McLemore
Teaching Assistant

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.

Mrs. McLemore will be returning to Providence in a part-time role this year, as she and her husband are expecting their first child in November. She is excited for a new role to use her expertise to assist classroom teachers in meeting the needs of each student while providing a supportive and nurturing learning environment.

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, all of whom are currently part of the Providence family. Ryan serves on the Board of Directors.


Rebecca Jane (“RJ”) Purdy
Extended Day Program Director

RJ Purdy earned a B.A. degree in intercultural studies from Biola University in 2016. She is in the process of earning early childhood education certification at Santa Barbara City College. She is a Providence Hall alumnus, Class of 2012. Miss Purdy joined the El Montecito School faculty in 2017 and discovered she loves teaching. She has spent many years as a Sunday school teacher and VBS shepherd at Reality Carpinteria. She has a passion for missions, art, and connecting with young hearts and minds. 

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 Hildago
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.