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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). He and his wife, Krista, have one son at Providence School.

Melissa Ferguson
Junior Patriots (Kindergarten-age) Teacher

A graduate of Westmont College, Mrs. Ferguson joined the Providence faculty in 2020.

Brittany Mercouris-Williams
Junior Patriots (Kindergarten-age) Teacher

A 2018 graduate of Westmont College with a liberal studies major and elementary teaching credential, Miss Williams joined the Providence faculty in 2020 after teaching at Adams Elementary for one year.

Caroline Cushman
First Grade Teacher

A graduate of BIOLA University with a degree in elementary education and a concentration in special education, Miss Cushman joined the Providence faculty in 2020.

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 at Achieve Academy in Denver for three years. She joined the Providence School faculty in 2018. She is passionate about teaching and helping students to grow both academically and spiritually. 

Tiffany Massey
Second Grade Teacher

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

Kayla Monson
Second 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 joined the Providence faculty in 2019. She is excited to have the opportunity to integrate faith and academics in impacting students to love learning and reach their full potential.

Anna Elias
Third Grade Teacher

Anna Elias earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at Westmont College and a multi-subject teaching credential at Loyola Marymount University. Miss Elias joined the Providence faculty in 2020 after teaching for two years through Teach for America in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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 former ELMO /  Providence School students.

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. 

Mary Wilson
Fifth Grade Teacher / Lower School Dean of Student Life

Mary Wilson has been a teaching professional since 2007. She holds  a master’s degree in educational leadership / administration from California Lutheran University and a K-8 teaching credential. She earned an undergraduate degree in liberal studies with a minor in Biblical studies from Biola University. Mrs. Wilson joined the Providence Lower School faculty in 2017 after teaching at Oaks Christian School and Pleasant Valley Christian. 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. Her many strengths include curriculum development and leadership.

Laurie Yee
Fifth Grade Teacher

Mrs. Yee earned her undergraduate degree at BIOLA University. She joined the Providence faculty in 2020.

April Torres
Sixth Grade Teacher

April Torres holds a master’s degree in education and a secondary-level science credential from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. She joined the El Montecito School faculty in 2007 and has been the lead sixth-grade teacher since 2015.

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. She considers it a privilege to develop deep relationships with students and families based on a common mission that goes beyond meeting educational goals.

April and her husband, “Pastor G,” are the parents of three daughters and a son. All have attended Providence; the two oldest daughters are alums now attending Cal Poly and Westmont.

Kara Baker
2185808_origReading and Learning Specialist

Kara Baker is a graduate of the Westmont Teacher Credential Program and received a Liberal Studies degree from Westmont College in 2012. She joined the Providence faculty in 2013 and has extensive experience in the Providence kindergarten classroom. Mrs. Baker has developed a strong understanding of student development and enjoys sharing a relationship with each student based on interests, personality, and faith. 

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. She joined the El Montecito School faculty in 2013. She and her husband, “Chef Alex,” are the parents of two Providence students.

Sarah EglinSarah Eglin
Music Teacher

Sarah Eglin has been teaching music, directing, accompanying, and performing in the Santa Barbara area since 1999. 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.  She taught music at Crane Country Day School and at Hope and Monte Vista Elementary Schools before joining the Providence faculty. 

Ms. Jill CunninghamJill McLemore
Academic Support Specialist

Jill McLemore holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a multiple subject teaching credential from Westmont College. In 2006, she joined the El Montecito School faculty as a full-time substitute teacher and teacher’s aide; in 2008, she began teaching first grade at Santa Barbara Christian School (which later became Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School).  She taught first grade there for 10 years before moving to part-time work while she and her husband raise their young son.

Jessica Prahm
Science Teacher

Jessica Prahm 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 from Sacramento State University. 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. 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 current Providence students. 

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.

Wilton Quintero
Physical Education Teacher

“Coach Q” joined the Providence faculty in 2020, after playing professional soccer. He graduated from Westmont College with a communications degree and is working on a masters degree in communications and leadership at Vanguard University. He is excited to explore the frontiers of teaching PE via Zoom! In his free time, he enjoys surfing, playing soccer, and reading.

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 El Montecito School from Preschool Room One through sixth grade. 

Julie SommersJulie Sommers
San Roque Campus 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 Office Assistant

Annette came to El Montecito School in 2015 after serving the Buellton School district for 16 years as office manager. She has a warm and cheerful greeting for everyone who enters the school 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.