FACULTY & STAFF

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GABRIELLE SMITH, M.ED.

Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Teaching Credential

Gabrielle was born and raised in Santa Barbara County and attended San Diego State University where she earned her teaching credential. Prior to joining the Knox School, she had been teaching for 30 years in both San Diego and Riverside Counties in grades 2, 1, Kindergarten, and Transitional Kindergarten.

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MALANA WILLIS, M.ED.

3/4 Teacher
 

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JONATHAN JONES 

Grade 1/2  Lead Teacher
 

I simply love interacting with and being around people. When I started working with clients one on one, training large and small groups of people in physical fitness, it brought out a new passion. A passion for working with others by identifying each individual’s needs and being able to support their learning and growth. I started training kids from the Police Athletic League (PAL) to give them a positive outlet and environment after school. I really enjoyed working with younger children and decided to pursue it further, returning to school for early childhood education.

 

It’s truly an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with such bright young children and I take pride in what I do and I want to give each individual my very best. I strive to be an example outside and inside of the classroom, not just by my words but by my actions.

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STEPHANIE BAGISH 

3/4 Teacher
 

Malana received her Master of Arts degree in Education and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of California, Berkeley, and her BA in psychology from Williams College.  She has taught elementary school across the grade levels most recently at The Knox School of Santa Barbara and Crane Country Day School.  

 

Malana presents annually at the Learning and the Brain summer institute in Santa Barbara, CA and has been writing and presenting with Judy Willis MD, MEd, on the neuroscience of learning since 2010. Their most recent book is Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from Neuroscience and the Classroom, Revised and Expanded Edition (ASCD, 2020).  Malana loves finding creative ways to encourage students to take on challenges and experience the joy of learning in and out of the classroom.  

Ms. Bagish has over 27 years of teaching experience in grades 3-6, and we know first-hand how well she understands the gifted population! She is an engaging teacher who has traveled the world (she just returned from Australia). Before being a classroom teacher, she worked at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art organizing Family Days and teaching art classes. Stephanie is excited to return to teach 3rd and 4th grades at The Knox School of Santa Barbara.

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KIMBERLY WAGNER, M.ED., M.A.,
GIFTED EDUCATION CERTIFICATION

Grade 5/6 Lead Teacher
M.Ed. Curriculum & Instruction; M.A. Teacher Leadership; Gifted Education Certification

Ms. Wagner has enjoyed the past 26 years teaching middle school in various states across the country, and recently volunteered as an ESL teacher for a year in the Marshall Islands. She is a firm believer in guiding students to develop their higher-order thinking skills and problem-solving techniques, and also assisting them in becoming creative and autonomous learners.

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SABRINA JANES

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EDIE LANPHAR, M.A.

Grade 7/8 Lead Teacher

M.A. Education

Edie Lanphar is a passionate and dedicated educator with a background in psychology and education. Throughout her extensive career, she has focused on improving the lives and educational experiences of all children while acutely aware of the needs of gifted and talented children. Specifically, she has been a teacher from PK through 12th grade, a lecturer at a University, an author, a researcher, a School Principal, and a Director of Curriculum.

In her role of over 10 years as Director of Curriculum, Ms. Lanphar created a K-8 Reggio Emilia (student-centered) program, focusing on social-emotional learning and inquiry-based curriculum. She went on to extend that program to include a full 4-year high school where she helped administer a constructivist and progressive project-based curriculum across the disciplines. She has also presented locally, nationally, and internationally for many years. She has a gifted and talented child of her own so intimately understands what helps them to thrive.

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LIGGY CHIEN, M.A.T.

Teaching Associate 

B.A. Environmental Studies

Advanced Math Instructor
B.A. Mathematical Science; M.A.T. Math Education

I am so excited to be welcomed into The Knox School as an Associate Teacher this school year. I am eager to be joining a community filled with such bright, creative minds ready to learn and explore the world around them. As a passionate and devoted
teacher, I look forward to being able to support these students both inside and outside the classroom, giving them the space to grow and thrive every day. I am a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, where I earned a bachelors’ degree in Environmental Studies and was a Division 1 student-athlete in
Cross Country/Track & Field. After graduation, I traveled to Japan as one of fifteen college student-athletes from across America, to teach English and coach sports to Japanese children. This experience helped me grow so much as an individual, and
where I realized my passion for teaching I am very excited to begin this new chapter as an educator within The Knox School
family. I am honored to be able to work alongside all the amazing, bright students and faculty this school year.

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JASON SUMMERS

Fine Art & Ceramics Instructor
Art, SBCC; Early Childhood Education

Mr. Summers is a full-time Senior Teaching Artist at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA). He plans, implements, and facilitates fine arts curriculum inspired by the museum’s collections and exhibits. He teachs as an Early Education Specialist, working as a Pre-K teacher, and designing Outdoor Classroom environments within childcare facilities.

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KARI VAN BEBBER RAMIREZ, M.S., P.P.S, L.M.F.T.

Consultant
M.S. P.P.S, L.M.F.T

It is my pleasure and honor to be part of the Knox School family and a program where thinking outside of the box is celebrated! I am committed and dedicated to supporting the continued development of the children and further fostering a positive, engaging, and supportive learning environment. I moved to Santa Barbara from Hillsborough, CA, where, I worked as an elementary school counselor for 9 years. In addition to my 4 years of teaching elementary school, my decade of experience with gifted children as a school counselor solidified in me a deep commitment to the growth of these children.

My desire is for children to find joy daily and know each day is a new opportunity for self-discovery. I want them to feel loved, supported, and a sense of belonging and purpose in their daily learning environment, regardless of the academic or social-emotional challenges they might be facing.

Kids should be able to just be kids, and they need us to provide them with this opportunity. Education needs to be filled with heart and soul. My mission is always to fill the heart. I aim to support and guide our families, faculty, and staff in the tandem pursuit of inspiring and cherishing our students. 

Ms. Chien taught mathematics for ten years at New Trier High School near Chicago. She moved to Santa Barbara when her husband joined the faculty of UC Santa Barbara and has taught mathematics at Anacapa School.

 
 

ADMINISTRATION

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ANGELA TANNER, PH.D.

Founder & Director
Ph.D. Cognitive Neuroscience

Angela Tanner was born and raised in southern California, attending Montessori in the early years and then Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California from 3rd through 12th grade, graduating with full Honors as Valedictorian. She went on to UCLA to study Psychology and Business, again graduating with College Honors, magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. Before returning to graduate school, she interned at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawai'i, conducting behavioral research studying cognition and communication in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. She returned to UCLA for her doctorate to explore the use of functional brain mapping techniques (specifically functional MRI) to examine the functional and structural topography of the cognitive processes of learning & memory.

The journey that led her to the opening of this school began as a very personal one, born of the frustrations and heartbreak of advocating for her own children. Angela’s experiences have fueled in her an enduring passion for creating an educational environment that honors both the intellectual, academic needs of gifted students, as well as the equally important, and often overlooked, social and emotional needs of this unique population.

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Head of School

Ph.D. Classical Art and Archaeology 

Karen Johnson was raised in northern Minnesota in a family whose commitment to educational opportunity was unfailing and inspiring.  She attended Colgate University where she earned a BA in Classical Studies and then went on to take her MA in Latin from the University of Georgia.  Her first teaching jobs were on the East Coast with middle school Latin students; these years were integral in the shaping of her educational philosophy and in identifying her focus on child development and identity for years to come.  From there, Karen went to the University of Michigan where she earned her PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology.  Her dissertation centered on the material culture of children and childhood, a topic which she approached not only from an archaeological angle, but also from cognitive developmental and anthropological perspectives, resulting in genuinely integrated and interdisciplinary research.   

 

Karen returned to teaching not long afterward—the call of the classroom was too compelling.  She spent nine years as the middle and upper school Latin teacher at the Roeper School in Birmingham, MI—the oldest school for gifted students in the nation.  In that time, she developed a curriculum that sought to study Latin for language awareness and challenge gifted kids in the larger field of linguistics.  For the last five years, Karen was the Upper School Director at the Roeper School, during which time she gained ample experience in independent school administration and governance.  

 

Her passion for gifted education mirrors the philosophy and practice at the Knox School.  Years of teaching have confirmed for her how students are most receptive to learning when they are relaxed and feeling safe; social and emotional security is the first and foremost element in the classroom. This is especially important for gifted kids, given their intensities and needs for trust and respect.  When this security is in place, the classroom should be full of challenge and playfulness in order for gifted children to flourish.  Karen is a committed advocate for gifted education and is proud and delighted to join the Knox School family.

KAREN JOHNSON, PH.D.

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SHAYNA GARDINER, M.A.

Director of Operations

Shayna brings a broad business background to the Director of Operations position, having many years of experience working within the fields of strategy, human resources, and marketing.

 

She earned her M.A. degree in Psychology and has additional training and experience in Life Coaching.  This has given her a depth of insight into the varied aspects involved in mental and emotional well-being and the achievement of personal aspirations. She knows first-hand the array of elements involved in raising gifted and talented children, and she is a sensitive support to the Knox family. She is committed to being a positive factor in the lives of the people she encounters.

 

Shayna has recently returned to the Santa Barbara area, where she lived while growing up, and she enjoys the many wonderful activities available. 

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WILMA MALMSTRÖM

Administrational & Financial Assistant

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MARISA POWELL

Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Marisa is perfectly situated to take on curriculum at Knox as she has spent over 14 years serving gifted learners and their families. Most recently she was an Advanced Academic Resource Teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia, where for five and a half years, she taught a diverse range of advanced learners, mentored and coached teachers in weaving meaningful curriculum into instruction, and worked with families to support their children’s unique learning and social emotional needs. Before moving to Virginia, Marisa taught and developed curriculum at The Ricks Center for Gifted Children at the University of Denver in Colorado (where she worked alongside Dr. Ellen Honeck, our former DCI) and at the Logan School for Creative Learning, another stand-alone gifted school in Colorado. During her five years at Logan, she designed and implemented individual, integrated curriculum based on student abilities and interests as well as a class unit. She is passionate about staying on top of new research and practices in education. She delights in philosophical discussions on gifted education and in implementing best practices. Marisa intimately understands, and is aligned with, the mission of The Knox School and can't wait to dive into supporting the teachers and students of Knox!

Born in Sundsvall, Sweden, Wilma recently earned her degree in the States in Economics. She brings a positive as well as playful attitude to the Knox School family.