New Faces on the Mesa

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Elizabeth Bird | Athletics

Elizabeth began her athletic training career shortly after graduating from James Madison University in 2014. Born and raised in Texas, Elizabeth returned to the Lone Star State and to her alma mater, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, to serve as the school’s Assistant Athletic Trainer.

She fell in love with California while completing a Master’s of Science in Kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, where she also contributed as the University’s softball and women’s soccer teams primary and secondary athletic trainer.

At Cate, Elizabeth is the Assistant Athletic Trainer. In her free time, she enjoys trail running and exploring California’s backcountry and beaches.

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Lydian Blossom ’07 | Theater Arts

Lydian Blossom returns to the Mesa this year after an almost thirteen-year absence. A member of the Cate Class of ’07, Lydian studied Theatre and Literature at Sarah Lawrence College and received her Masters Degree in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Between the two programs she lived in Brooklyn: performing, training, improvising, devising theatre, babysitting, serving ramen, and helping develop new plays as much as she possibly could. She feels very privileged to have gotten to work with some incredible theatre makers in New York City.

Having grown up on West Coast boarding school campuses as well as attending Cate, Lydian is excited to return to the Mesa to take on the leadership of our theater program and serve as an advisor and dorm parent in Cook House East.

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Dean’a Curry| Student Services

Dean’a joins our Student Services team as Director of Counseling Services. Dean’a is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and comes with a wealth of experience in the field of adolescent counseling and counseling systems management. Most recently, she was the Wraparound Program coordinator for Santa Barbara County Public Schools (K-12).

Dean’a and her husband, Michael, live in Santa Barbara and have a six year-old daughter, Keaton.

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Da'Jon James | Music Arts

Da’Jon joins the Cate community as the new Director of Vocal Music. The East Coast native  received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Psychology from Syracuse University, during which time he directed musicals, performed in operas, and conducted various music ensembles.

He moved to Los Angeles to further his studies and completed a Masters in Choral Music from the University of Southern California. No stranger to keeping busy, while in Los Angeles, Da’Jon conducted choirs, guest lectured at colleges, was a private vocal instructor and worked with various bands and commercial artists in studios in Burbank and Irvine.

Da’Jon enjoys playing the piano and saxophone, beatboxing, musical arrangement and swing dancing. However, if you really want to get him talking simply bring up a good recipe, motorcycles, or Dungeons & Dragons!

In addition to his role in the music department at Cate, Da’Jon is a proud dorm parent in High House Lido.

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Raphaela Riparetti | Mathematics

Having grown up in the Netherlands, Raphaela earned a BSc in pure Mathematics at Sussex University in the United Kingdom, followed by a Postgraduate Certificate of Education from Brighton University.  A truly global educator, Raphaela taught middle and high school math in the UK, the Netherlands, and Indonesia before moving to the United States in 2009.

When she is not teaching mathematics at Cate, Raphaela enjoys tutoring Math privately, writing and illustrating a children’s book, volunteering in a number of communities, raising her two daughters, and fixing up her family’s tiny Mountain Home up the San Marcos Pass.

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Benton Swain '14 | Modern Language

While Ben is a new faculty member this year, he is no newcomer to the Mesa. Attending Cate as a member of the class of ’14, Ben first found his passion for Spanish while working in the school’s Grounds department over the summer, and developed it in the classrooms of Schoolhouse. His enthusiasm for language and education took him to Colorado College where he majored in Spanish while co-chairing an after-school program for local children to learn a second language.

Ben is enthusiastic to be back on the Mesa, teaching Spanish in the same classrooms where he found his passion for language. Ben is excited to be a part of the new memories that Cate students make by filling the role of a teacher, coach of ultimate frisbee, soccer, baseball, and a dorm parent in Cook House West.