Justin Brune Junior High Science Teacher and Director of Curriculum and Technology
Shauna Bunnell Performing Arts and Mindfulness Teacher
Mallory Clark Math and PE Teacher
Claire Deters 3-4 Teacher
Baby DuBay 3-4 Teacher
Melody Dykstra 1-2 Teacher
Brandy Gatfield-Brune Kindergarten Teacher
Taira Guerrero Early Learner Teacher and Co-Director
Tara Kennedy Visual Arts Teacher, 9th Grade Co-Advisor, and Program Administrator
Kevin Kramer 5-6 Teacher, 8th Grade Math Teacher, and 9th Grade Biology Teacher
Maria Lucas Learning Specialist and Literacy Coordinator
Lori Mason Jr. High English and History Teacher
Monique Michel Jr. High Spanish Teacher, 9th Grade Lead Advisor, and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Stephanie Santos-Owens K-9 Music Teacher
Miranda Podolsky Kindergarten Teacher
Samantha Powers Early Learner Teacher
Rodolfo Prado Prado K-6 Spanish Teacher
Robbie Prokop 5-6 Teacher
Matt Schanbacher Early Learner Teacher
Kate Shaine Enrichment and 9th Grade Mentorship Coordinator
Vicky Shu Jr. High Math Teacher
Jennifer Trudell Early Learner Teacher and Co-Director
Meet Our Faculty
Justin Brune: Justin is a farm boy, born and raised in Hazelton, Idaho. His early days were spent exploring his natural environment while learning hard work and dedication while working on the family farm. After being inspired to pursue teaching while working as a role model/tutor for elementary school students, Justin headed to Idaho State University in Pocatello. Graduating from ISU with a degree in elementary education, Justin moved to the town of Hemet in Southern California and got a job teaching 3rd grade at Whittier Elementary School (about 1200 K-6 students). Justin moved back to Boise and taught at Good Shepherd School for 10 years before joining Foothills in 2007 after working with Jeff Wilhelm and the National Writing Project. At Foothills, Justin has been a school leader, serving on many committees, including the strategic planning committee. Currently, Justin is the head of the Technology Committee. When Justin isn't teaching, you might find him at the skate park. Justin has been a skateboarder for 20 years and often skates to work. Justin and his wife, Brandy, have two children and one of them currently attends Foothills.
Shauna Bunnell: Shauna has a BA in Theater Education from BYU in Provo, Utah. She taught Drama and English at Crossroads Middle School in Meridian, Idaho. After taking a break to start a family and travel the world with her husband, Rob, for his job at Micron, she is ecstatic to be back in the classroom again. Shauna is also a professional Improv performer here in Boise. She’s performed with Comedy Sportz, Recycled Minds, Chicks ‘N Giggles, Hilarity for Charity fundraisers, and Idaho Laugh Fest. She is the parent of Foothills students Jackson and Charlotte Bunnell. She is thrilled to be working with this stellar team of educators here at Foothills.
Mallory Clark: Mallory joined the Foothills teaching team in 1996 as a full-time Junior High teacher. Since then, she has worn numerous hats at Foothills, including as a teacher of Spanish, math, PE, literacy, science, and social studies in grades 1-9. Mallory studied Sociology and Anthropology at Lewis and Clark College and received an M.ED at Stanford and an M.S. in Exercise and Sports Science from BSU. When not teaching, Mallory can be found partaking in many winter and summer sports with her husband and two girls.
Claire Deters: Claire is a Boise native who, after 10 years of rambling about the country, has finally come back to her roots. Claire completed a degree in Environmental Studies from the College of Idaho, as well as a Master's of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho. She has worked with animals at a nature center in New York, taught Natural Resources in Vermont, was a coastal environmental educator for the Audubon Society in Connecticut, and worked as a field instructor at the McCall Outdoor Science School. Claire also worked as a classroom teacher at a Project-based school in the Portland area for 2 years. Most recently, Claire worked with organizations focused on expanding access to high-quality STEM resources for underserved populations throughout Idaho. In her spare time, Claire likes to identify and learn about plants and animals, read novels, roller skate, ski, and generally be outside. She could not be more thrilled to be a part of the Foothills Community!
Baby DuBay: Baby DuBay will join Foothills this year as a co-lead teacher in the 3-4s dyad. Baby previously taught 4th grade for two years at Gowan Science Academy in Yuma, AZ. However, for the past two years, she has been teaching art to Kindergarten through fifth grade students during the regular school year, as well as 3rd and 4th grade during the summer at Palmcroft Elementary, also in Yuma. As part of a co-teaching environment at Gowan, Baby developed lessons differentiated for individual student needs and integrated science, technology, engineering, and math. Baby holds a BA in Education and a social-emotional learning endorsement from Northern Arizona University, where she received the La Cosecha Scholarship & Fern Drysdale Memorial Endowment and graduated summa cum laude. Baby also holds an AA degree in Elementary Education from Arizona Western College.
Melody Dykstra: Melody, a former Early Learner Teacher, returned to Foothills as a 1st and 2nd Grade Teacher in 2015. Melody worked at Foothills for six years before leaving to travel internationally and then moving to Montana for graduate school. Melody has a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education from BSU and a Master's degree in Health and Human Development from Montana State University.
Brandy Gatfield-Brune: Brandy is a former stay-at-home mom who found her way back into the classroom with the help of former Foothills teacher, Michelle Forrester. Brandy went to Idaho State University, but transferred and graduated from Boise State University with a degree in Elementary Education. After teaching for 5 years, she took time off to have a family and be home with her 2 kids, Luca and Jax. Brandy is currently teaching Kindergarten and her husband Justin teaches Jr. High here.
Taira Guerrero: Taira is a teacher in the Early Learners program and joined the Foothills community in 2017. Prior to coming to Foothills, she worked as a classroom teacher in both preschool and primary age programs at The Children's School of Boise. Her undergraduate work is in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Boise State University and she is currently pursuing a master's in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education as part of the Emerging Leaders program. Taira is also bilingual in Spanish after working in Baja California, Mexico, and spends time in the classroom sharing language and cultural studies with the Early Learners. Outside of school, she dedicates her time to journaling, sewing, exploring creative arts experiences, traveling with friends and family, and being a dog mama to her Chihuahua, Paloma.
Tara Kennedy: Tara joined Foothills in 2006 to teach art to students in kindergarten through 9th grade. Prior to joining Foothills, Tara was an art educator at the Boise Art Museum, where she taught public programs to all age groups, summer and spring break classes for elementary students, and adult classes. She also worked as an instructor for BAM's Artreach program, bringing art to classrooms outside of Ada County. From 2002-2004, Tara taught ceramics and sculpture in Bellevue, Washington. She is currently serving as the Vice President of the Idaho Art Education Association. Tara grew up in Idaho and graduated from high school in Cascade, Idaho. She enjoys painting and creating all types of art, camping, being in the outdoors, swimming, reading, history, listening to music, science fiction movies, and ice hockey.
Kevin Kramer: Kevin is in his 17th year as a teacher at Foothills and continues to bring both planning and teaching leadership to the Foothills School team thanks to his broad preparation and experience in science, math, and technology. He developed hands-on science and engineering curriculum for students at PCS Edventures, and taught natural and physical sciences and technology to students ages 5-16. At the Mountain Cove High School, Kevin developed and taught Introduction to Technology, which included hands-on physics and computer technology applications, to students ages 15-20. He has also worked as a research technician for the Department of Fish and Game and a lab assistant at the Puget Sound Institute of Pathology. Kevin grew up in Boise and has two sons and a daughter. He enjoys coaching soccer, running, skiing, cooking, and gardening.
Lori Mason: Lori Mason will join Foothills this year as our 7th-9th grade English and history teacher. For the past five years, Lori has taught 7th and 8th grade English at Heritage and Lake Hazel Middle Schools where her classes have ranged from general education to honors to gifted & talented. Lori was named Teacher of the Year at Heritage Middle School for 2020-2021. She holds a BA in English from BSU and has pursued continuing education at the Boise State Writing Project Summer Inquiry Institute. In addition to school teaching, Lori has been a ski instructor through the Recreation Unlimited adaptive ski program. We look forward to welcoming Lori in August.
Monique Michel: Monique has been a teacher for many years, working with multiple grade levels in multiple subjects, most recently teaching at Wilson Elementary School in Caldwell. In 2003, Monique founded Ballet Folklorico Mexico Lindo, a dance studio and performance troupe in Nampa. Monique has served as the education director for Caldwell Fine Arts and is associated with numerous other community organizations. Monique worked in the Upward Bound/Trio program at BSU and was a high school guidance counselor in Southern California. Monique holds an AA degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Miranda Podolsky: Miranda is a Kindergarten teacher and joined the Foothills Community in 2018. She taught in the Kuna School District for 10 years as a 1st-grade teacher. Miranda started working towards her Master’s Degree at Boise State University in Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Skills in 2016, setting her on the path that would lead her to Foothills School. Her continued education inspired her to begin implementing a more progressive style of teaching in her public school classroom at the same time that she and her husband were researching schools for their son Rowan. When an opportunity to transition into a private school that embraced this progressive approach arose, she jumped on it with enthusiasm. To her, Foothills represents the ideal balance between structured learning and play with a strong focus on the social and emotional development of her students. In her free time, Miranda enjoys spending time in the yard gardening, skiing, birding, hiking, and taking road trips with her family.
Samantha Powers: Sam Powers will join the Early Learner class this year as a Lead Teacher. For the past five years, Sam has been a lead teacher at the Boise State University Children’s Center. During her time at BSU, Sam designed an inquiry-based curriculum and facilitated opportunities for children to explore their interests in an environment that fosters curiosity, problem-solving, social-emotional development, and creativity. Sam was part of a four-year partnership with the Idaho STEM Action Center and has presented for the Idaho AEYC Professional Development on early childhood inquiry-based STEM practices. Sam holds a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies and this summer she will complete an MA in Early and Special Education, both from Boise State University.
Rodolfo Prado Prado: Rodolfo holds both a BA in Spanish and an MA in curriculum and instruction from BSU. He has completed additional coursework as well as an International Baccalaureate Certification in Spanish. Rodolfo has over ten years of experience teaching college-aged students at BSU and College of Idaho as well as high school-aged students as both lead teacher and assistant teacher. He is enthusiastic about working with elementary-aged students. He likes to watch and play soccer and is always interested in participating in a pick-up soccer game.
Robbie Prokop: Robbie has been teaching at Foothills for 18 years and has primarily taught in the 5th & 6th-grade class. With a degree in wildlife ecology/biology, he has a strong science background, including a concentration in raptor biology and loves to collaborate with his team members in creating authentic, field-based, hands-on science studies at Foothills. In addition to his classroom teaching responsibilities, Robbie also serves as the school's math lead and teaches P.E. to the upper school. Robbie's two children both graduated from Foothills and his family has been a cornerstone of the community for almost two decades. In his spare time, Robbie takes any opportunity to adventure in the great wide out-there with his wife, Mary Jo, and their two, almost-grown, kids - Addie and Blaise. He loves the world's game and coaches for a local affiliate of the Portland Timbers, enjoys fishing, reading; pretends to garden and be handy; and rides his bike (usually in shorts) to school most days, rain or shine!
Stephanie Santos-Owens: Stephanie Santos-Owens joined Foothills in 2021 to teach K-9th grade music. Stephanie brings ten years of teaching experience in voice, choir, piano, and music theory in grades ranging from Pre-K to high school. Most recently, Stephanie was a music teacher at the Wrightwood Education Studio in California. Previously, Stephanie was choir director at Inland Empire Musical Arts, music director at Sandra R. Courtney Playhouse, and studio director and music teacher at B Natural Voice Studio. During this time, Stephanie has prepared students for participation in recitals, concerts, musicals, competitions, college auditions, and music theory examinations; fostered a respectful learning environment and developed strong partnerships with parents and students; and developed, implemented, and evaluated multifaceted lesson plans to accommodate multiple learning styles. Stephanie completed coursework at the College of Southern Idaho through 2009 and at BSU in vocal performance through 2011.
Matt Schanbacher: Matt began as a full-time teacher in the Foothills' Early Learner classroom in 2018. Prior to being a teacher, Matt was a professional dancer, which gives him a unique and diverse skill set in the EL classroom. He trained for four years in the Joffrey Ballet School’s pre-professional program, in addition to a year of training with Ballet Hispanico. Matt spent three years with Momix Dance Company as a performing artist and prop technician. Matt has over five years of experience as a teacher in a variety of settings, including Foothills, the Joffrey Ballet School, Frost Valley YMCA, and Balance Dance Company. Matt has also assisted teaching in the engineering department at the County College of Morris from which he earned an AS degree in biology. Matt brings his love of the arts to the classroom with his music. He is mainly self-taught on the guitar and leads many morning meetings with songs that he hopes to pique the interest of the children and inspire them to have a variety of music in their own lives. Matt’s enthusiasm for science makes his group science section a fun, hands-on learning portion of each day in the ELs. Matt also enjoys sharing dance with the children through his after-school enrichment program held for a number of weeks in the spring.
Kate Shaine: Kate Shaine has been at Foothills since 2015 when her daughter began the Early Learner program. She currently coordinates the After-School Enrichment Program, the Ninth Grade Mentorship Program, and is a substitute teacher for all grades. Prior to coming to Foothills, Kate was a high school teacher and an administrator for collegiate athletics and physical education. She has a bachelor's in Biopsychology from Drew University in Madison, NJ, and a Master's Degree in Athletic Administration from Idaho State University. Her daughter and son have both attended Foothills since they were Early Learners.
Vicky Shu: Mrs. Huihua (Vicky) Shu joined the Foothill community in 2020, teaching high school math courses. She has a Master's degree in Materials Engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. Prior to joining Foothills, she worked as an electronic packaging engineer in several industry companies and then devoted herself to a STEM teaching career in college and high school in Texas. Her philosophy of teaching mathematics is based upon the belief that students can enjoy the delight of learning and gain confidence from the process of exploring and building knowledge to understand and apply mathematics to our lives. She believes that teachers are the guides and facilitators of knowledge who motivate students to actively examine and extend their thinking, shape a conversational environment in which students share and construct their own knowledge, design instructions that enable students to learn by doing, align the curriculum according to standards and students' assessment, and apply technology to improve teaching and learning.
Jennifer Trudell: Jennifer is a teacher in the Early Learner preschool class and has a degree in elementary education from Boise State University. She began working with children and educators while still in high school through a cadet teaching experience funded by the Carnegie Foundation. She studied both art and literature while attending Western Oregon State College and moved back to Boise to complete her undergraduate degree. She began teaching at Foothills School in 1996. After being introduced to the Reggio Emilia approach, she attended The Hundred Languages of Children Exhibit and workshop in Fresno, California. Jennifer has presented at the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools Fall Conference, Treasure Valley Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, The National Council of Teachers of English Spring Regional Conference and has participated in the National Teachers Choice Book Awards. Jennifer's interests include reading, sewing, film history, collecting, baking, and spending time with her two children.