Eight new faculty members joined the Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School community for the 2021-22 school year. Learn about each of them below.
Teresa Christensen, Grade 4 Assistant Teacher
Mrs. Christensen is already familiar to Catalina families: She first joined the fourth-grade classroom in the 2020-21 school year, having previously facilitated the after-school Study Buddies program for Grades 1 and 2. She is married to Upper School math teacher Jon Christensen.
Madeline Farr, Grade 1 Teacher
Mrs. Farr worked at Hillbrook School in Los Gatos before coming to Catalina. She has a B.A. in design studies from San Jose State, an M.Ed. from Loyola University Maryland, and an elementary teaching credential from Montessori Northwest. A Santa Cruz native, she enjoys camping, hiking, reading, and cooking. She and her husband have an Australian Shepard named Maya.
Jessica Foley, Middle School English Teacher
Mrs. Foley teaches English in Grades 6 and 8. Previously, she taught at St. John Paul II Catholic School in Southern Pines, North Carolina. While there, she received the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service for supporting the health, safety, and connectedness of families at Fort Bragg during the pandemic. She has a B.A. in English from the University of San Francisco and a teaching credential from Santa Clara University. The Morgan Hill native enjoys reading, drama and theatre, dance, running (sometimes against her will), and spending time on the beach with her husband, two children, and dog, Scout.
Cassidy Guenther, Grade 3 Teacher
Mrs. Guenther discovered her love of teaching as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, when she received the Zena Costa Brown International Study Award to study abroad as a Grade 1 teacher in London. Since then she has taught at the kindergarten, second, and fourth grade levels. She also worked as a teacher at The Bunny Hive, a social studio for parents and their children (aged 2 weeks to 4 years), where she taught classes that focused on cognitive/motor development. Mrs. Guenther is an avid runner, having completed several half-marathons, and enjoys hiking, finding new coffee shops, and exploring California, her new home after spending a majority of her life in Georgia. She also, of course, continues to cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs.
Henrique Monnerat, Technical Arts Teacher
Mr. Monnerat most recently was the Makerspace STEAM Teacher at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut. He has a background in product design, working for several design firms, co-founding technology startup Designoteca, and teaching at the university level. Mr. Monnerat, a native of Brazil, is multilingual. He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Rio de Janeiro State University and a master’s in product design from Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main in Germany.
Barry Panes, Lower and Middle School Athletic Director
Coach Panes took over as Athletic Director after nearly 20 years in the same position at Junipero Serra School in Carmel. He has also coached the Upper School track and field team since 2014, and is the proud recipient of the CCS Honor Coach Award.
Zhanna Pernik, Kindergarten Teacher
Growing up as the daughter of educators in Ukraine, Mrs. Pernik was inspired to follow in their footsteps and enjoyed a 20-year career as a science teacher. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1996, she continued teaching, and has worked in Montessori and public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. She and her husband moved to Monterey County during the pandemic to be closer to their son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, and decided to stay. In her free time, she enjoys reading, swimming, and cooking.
Teresa Rico, PreKindergarten Teacher
Ms. Rico has always loved working with young children. She was born and raised in Salinas, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and continues to call the Salinas Valley home. She enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her close-knit family.