Faculty and Staff Directory

The La Jolla Country Day School faculty, administration and staff are strong, diverse and talented individuals who have been drawn together for a common purpose. Ours is a vibrant community with an exciting charge—to create a stronger, better place where our children and those of future generations can grow to become excellent individuals, citizens and adventurers of the world.

Below is a list of the administration, staff and faculty. To locate a member, click on the drop-down menus below to search by division, department or last name. Faculty and staff bios are also available below.

Faculty/Staff Directory

  • Jessica Abbondanzio
    Lower School Art Educator, Director of After-School and Summer Programs
    (858) 453-3440 x285
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness by creating opportunities for students to share talents, be exposed to new mediums and expand their knowledge of history and culture. I hope to develop an environment where our young artists can learn to express themselves visually and to appreciate visual expressions around them.”

    Jessica Abbondanzio believes that elementary education should be filled with joy, color and creativity. Children should be a part of an art class from an early age and understand that one’s skill level in drawing does not define their ability to create something unique and artistic. Mrs. Abbondanzio graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, with her bachelor’s degree in art and psychology and master’s degree in education. During her college years, she enjoyed studying culture and arts in West Africa, Chile and France.

    Before joining LJCDS in August 2016, Mrs. Abbondanzio was a K-4 art teacher in Dallas, Texas, for four years and a second-grade classroom teacher for eight years.

    Mrs. Abbondanzio enjoys cooking and believes creating culinary feasts is another form of art. She and her husband, Matt Abbondanzio, assistant head of school for design and innovation, were married in May 2016 and are happy to be now living in San Diego.

  • Samantha Ames
    Extended Day Group Leader
    (858) 453-3440
  • Andrea Boehme
    Lower School Associate Educator
    (858) 453-3440 x218
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness for a better world by introducing character education to our children. I help by giving them the tools they need to navigate situations with their peers and others. As their skills grow, I am confident they will feel empowered now and throughout their future to become upstanding citizens.”

    Andrea Boehme believes that children truly are our future, and to work with children of such an impressionable age is an honor, not to mention extremely fulfilling. In addition, she finds herself learning from her children frequently.

    Ms. Boehme was introduced to the world of early childhood education through an internship program in high school. That was when she first fell in love with working with children and decided to take college courses in the field. Prior to joining the LJCDS community in the 2010–2011 school year, Ms. Boehme was substituting in schools around the county and also worked in radio.

    In her spare time, Ms. Boehme enjoys spending time with her family, especially her niece. You may also find her enjoying the latest best-selling book with a slice of pizza!
     
  • Wendy Clemente
    Music Educator
    (858) 453-3440 x211
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness by helping children find their voice. A child who sings with confidence and joy will always know how to share his or her ideas and empower others to use their voices as well. I believe that the singers in my classroom are on their way to becoming citizens who will live their lives out loud.”  

    Since 2003, Wendy Clemente has taught general and vocal music in the Lower School. Beginning with the Tiny Torreys, she enjoys watching her students explore musical expression and find their voice. She believes that all humans are musical and that early music experiences can build skills that will set up a lifetime of music making.  

    A California native, Ms. Clemente always knew that she wanted to be a music teacher. She grew up singing regularly in church and began piano lessons at age 9. In high school, she began performing in musical theater while also interning for a small-label fashion designer. She spent a year studying music and theater in England, toured Western Europe as a soloist, and finally graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education. Ms. Clemente began her first teaching job in Bozeman, Mont., and then relocated to San Diego, teaching music and English at Escondido Adventist Academy for 11 years before coming to LJCDS. She continues to perform as a soprano and conducts various choral organizations, including the La Jolla Renaissance Singers, the UCSD  Geisel Library Toy Piano Duo, Bach Collegium–San Diego, St. Paul’s Cathedral, La Jolla Playhouse, St. Therese of Carmel Valley and the La Sierra University Vocal Octet Alumni.  

    Ms. Clemente spends her spare time sewing costumes and apparel for herself and family members, cooking gourmet vegetarian food, reading, and traveling with her husband, two children (who both attend LJCDS), two cats and a very spoiled beagle.  
  • Krista Clowers
    Lower School Science Educator
    (858) 453-3440
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness by fostering a sense of curiosity and wonder in all my students so that they can become lifelong learners who purposefully and methodically seek to solve problems in the world around them.”

    Krista Clowers nurtures her students’ natural curiosity about the world through the study of a variety of science topics. She strives to provide meaningful learning experiences which go beyond knowledge and application. Challenging students to use critical thinking skills is one of her favorite approaches to implementing science curriculum. Ms. Clowers encourages all students to not only carefully observe and analyze but carefully listen to and consider the ideas and contributions of fellow classmates.

    Ms. Clowers started teaching in 1996 and has taught all grades from pre-kindergarten through Grade 7 in both public and private schools in California, Texas, Hawaii and Washington State. She earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies and her teaching credential at Cal State San Marcos and has earned a Master in Elementary Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Assessment from Aspen University. In her spare time, Ms. Clowers enjoys gardening, yoga and participates in several triathlons each year.
     
  • Jessica Corso
    Extended Day Coordinator
    (858) 453-3440 x305
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness for a better world by sharing with children my vulnerable, passionate and determined self. I believe it is important to step back and observe our children. When we allow children the time and space to explore and experiment on their own, we gain insight into how they think, and only then can we support their true potential.”     

    Jessica Corso believes that every part of the child’s day is important and unique. A child can learn valuable lessons while sitting at the lunch table with peers and teachers. A teachable moment can happen anytime and anywhere, and Ms. Corso is honored to have the opportunity to scaffold empathy, determination and dignity for the children at LJCDS.

    Ms. Corso earned her bachelor’s degree in music and voice and specialization in teaching music to children from New Hampshire at Keene State College and her master’s in child and family development from San Diego State University. While at SDSU, she also received a credential as a social and emotional early childhood intervention specialist. While writing her thesis, she became interested in the Reggio Emilia approach to education.

    She began her career at Gorce Child Study Center, where she studied child-centered learning and the project-based approach. Before joining LJCDS, Ms. Corso was previously at Mission Bay Montessori Academy of La Jolla and Aspirations Child Learning Center in Carlsbad–a Reggio-inspired school.   
            
    Ms. Corso has been singing and writing music her entire life—her greatest passion aside from education. She is currently the lead singer of Feathers and Lead, a band she started three years ago. Ms. Corso writes music for the band, and she enjoys the teamwork and friendship that has grown throughout the years.
     
  • Anna Fennessey
    Early Childhood Center Educator
    (858) 453-3440 x218
    Bio
     
    “I am passionate about helping each young child feel loved, valued and respected. I inspire greatness for a better world by providing a safe, flexible and nurturing environment for the young child to thrive in. The first five years of a child’s life are some of the most important. I believe building trust and laying a secure foundation allows each child to feel confident to take chances, explore new environments and pursue making their dreams reality.”

    Working as an early childhood educator at La Jolla Country Day School for more than a decade, Anna Fennessey understands the development of the young child. She provides a rich environment for children to discover, learn and develop important social and emotional skills. These skills are an important foundation as each child progresses through the school experience.

    Having a passion for teaching at an early age, Ms. Fennessey took early childhood classes in high school and volunteered for programs working with young children. She began teaching while she continued her education, graduating with honors and receiving a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Being a lifetime learner, she continues to seek opportunities to further her knowledge and understanding of human development, best practices in teaching and curriculum development, and recently became a certified Outdoor Education Specialist through the Outdoor Classroom Project.

    Ms. Fennessey taught elementary and high school classes at a private school in Victorville, Calif., for four years. After moving to San Diego, she worked as an early childhood educator at a private school before joining the LJCDS team in the 2004–2005 academic school year.

    She believes quality teachers exhibit a passion for what they do. They model patience, flexibility, creativity, dedication and a sense of humor to foster an authentic love of learning.
  • Elaine Gain
    Early Childhood Center Educator
    (858) 453-3440 x217
    Bio
     
    “Every day I strive to be a role model who inspires greatness for a better world. In my class, I listen to the ideas, needs, passions, emotions and lessons that the children bring in and apply them to my planning every day. Doing this allows the children to gain confidence, feed their curiosity, understand their emotions, provide for others, ask questions, and find their little voice in this big world.”

    Elaine Gain began her career in early childhood education through her high school’s ROP program.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts and sciences and teaching credential with an embedded Crosscultural Language and Academic Development certificate (CLAD) from San Diego State University. Ms. Gain continues to obtain more early childhood education units to further her development as an instructor.  Before coming to La Jolla Country Day School, Ms. Gain worked as a substitute teacher in the San Diego Unified School District, as a site supervisor/program coordinator at an early learning center, and as a pre-K teacher through the YMCA.

    Outside of school Ms. Gain enjoys cooking, walking up the hills of the San Diego Zoo, and traveling to new places.  She is also passionate about living a more Eco-friendly life that will keep our planet healthy for many more generations to come.
  • Meiling Hager
    Lower School Administrative Assistant & Attendance
    (858) 453-3440 x161
    Bio
     
    “I use every opportunity to encourage curiosity of language learning to inspire greatness for a better world. As Lower School administrative assistant, I have endless opportunities to meet students, parents and visitors on my job. Whenever I have a chance to speak different languages, I do so enthusiastically. I encourage students to speak whatever languages they have learned, and I try to learn from them as well. I feel knowing different languages is such a great tool in getting to know different cultures and people around the world.”
     
     
    Meiling Hager has lived in five different countries and visited many more. She learned Spanish when she lived in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. It thrills her when she uses her poor (mostly forgotten) Spanish on the phone when the opportunity arises and to watch the students’ surprised expressions. She was also able to compare novels in both Chinese and English versions, such as Soul Mountain and Sandalwood Death. To her, the joy of doing that is beyond what words can express.
     
    Ms. Hager started her career at Taipei American School, working as a teacher assistant in second grade while attending college in the evenings. After she graduated, she moved into the position of high school scheduler and stayed in the position for eight years before leaving the country and getting married in Guatemala. In 1992, she moved back to the United States from South Africa, and she was so happy to find a job at La Jolla Country Day School as the Lower School administrative assistant, where she still thoroughly enjoys her work.   
     
     
    Ms. Hager loves traveling, reading, cooking, tennis and Chinese folk arts. 
  • Gabi Hernandez
    Extended Day Group Leader
  • Payton Hobbs
    Associate Director of Admission
    (858) 453-3440 x120
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness for a better world by helping families who are just beginning their journey at LJCDS feel welcomed and valued in our community. By sharing our mission, vision and promise with prospective and current families, I hope to help create a diverse and inclusive learning environment, filled with citizens that are focused on making a positive difference in our local and global communities.”
     
    Payton Hobbs began her work in the field of education learning with the youngest students as a classroom teacher. She taught kindergarten, first and second grade at both public and private schools. As Mrs. Hobbs’ career progressed, she wanted to expand her impact with learners of all ages and transitioned into leadership positions that included director of curriculum and instruction, assistant head of Lower School, and most recently head of Lower School at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina, for the past seven years.

    In addition to her role as an educator, Mrs. Hobbs is also an athlete. She played lacrosse and basketball at the collegiate level for Duke University and was a member of the 1999 women’s basketball team that made it to the NCAA National Championship game. She also played basketball professionally for the Saarlouis Royals in Germany. The basketball shoes have been hung up for now, and today Mrs. Hobbs spends her free time playing tennis, swimming, running, and working with young athletes as a coach and mentor. She and her husband, Alfie, who serves as the assistant head of Upper School at Pacific Ridge School, have two children, Simone ’28 and Tre ’30, who are also part of the LJCDS community.

    Connect with Mrs. Hobbs on LinkedIn or on Twitter @paytonhobbs.
     
  • Ashley Marlow
    Lower and Middle School Counselor
    (858) 453-3440 x317
    Bio
     
    “I inspire greatness for a better world by supporting students in their social and emotional development. My office provides a safe space for children to find a compassionate ear, with the hope that they will leave feeling encouraged and heard. I love teaching Life Skills to Middle School students; I help them to self-reflect, problem-solve, and develop empathy so they can make healthy choices and positively impact the world around them.”
     
    Ashley Marlow was born in California but grew up in New Jersey. Attending an all-girls school from Grades 9 through 12 gave her the opportunity to appreciate the value of an independent school and an environment that can develop the leaders of the future.
     
    Ms. Marlow returned to the West Coast for college and received her Bachelor of Arts in communications from Pepperdine University. She studied abroad in Florence in her sophomore year and consequently loves all things Italian. Initially, Ms. Marlow planned to work in the entertainment industry as a casting director but later realized that career would not give her a sense of purpose. Instead, she wanted to help guide people toward their passions and goals.
     
    Inspired by the conversations she had while supervising student workers in the admissions office, Ms. Marlow pursued her graduate degree in school counseling at the College of William and Mary. After graduation, Ms. Marlow was a middle school counselor at a public school for two years before returning to California in 2011.
     
    Ms. Marlow is thrilled to work with students and their families at La Jolla Country Day School. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, reading, and taking her dog, Parker, for walks by the beach.  




La Jolla Country Day School

9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-453-3440

© 2018 La Jolla Country Day School

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