World Class Leadership

Administration

Dr. Paul Johnson
Head of School and Upper School Principal
Dr. Paul Johnson, Head of School at Rancho Solano Preparatory School, holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of North Dakota.  He has held several leadership positions both domestically and abroad. Dr. Johnson served as President of the American College of Sofia (ACS) in Bulgaria, the oldest American educational institution outside of the United States and also served as the Superintendent of an 11,000 student, PK-12 American public school district in Bismarck, ND. He was named as the North Dakota Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent of the year award. He joined Rancho Solano in April, 2016. 

Erika Goethe
Middle School Principal
Mrs. Goethe joined Rancho Solano in 2015 with 25 years of experience in Middle School education and holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in Education.  It is her passion and absolute joy to work with middle school-aged children. Mrs. Goethe has successfully built schools based upon best practices in education, which are founded in adolescent development.

Laurie Clark
Lower School Principal
Mrs. Clark has taught and administered all elementary grade levels for the past 20 years. Joining Rancho Solano in 2016, she previously served as Head of Primary at Cedar International School in the British Virgin Islands, where she had previously been a 5th Grade teacher. Mrs. Clark holds a Bachelors of Arts in Humanities from Fort Lewis College and a Masters of Education from Adams State College. She also holds an International Baccalaureate (IB) Certification and is authorized to lead IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) workshops and evaluate schools seeking IB authorization. 

Dr. Judy Byrd
Director of Curriculum 
Dr. Byrd joined Rancho Solano in August of 2016 with extensive experience in the field of education as a classroom teacher, school administrator, curriculum specialist, and teacher developer. She holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Samford University as well as degrees in elementary education and early childhood education. 

Scott Salk
Director of Admissions
Mr. Salk joined Rancho Solano during the 2015-2016 school year with 14 years of private school administrative experience. While specializing in the areas of admissions and marketing, he also has school experience in operations, finance, facilities management, and development. Mr. Salk has a BS in Marketing from the University of Arizona and earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Rachel Gaetano
Director of Residential Life
Ms. Gaetano holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics and a Master of Arts in Education. She joined Rancho Solano in 2014 as a faculty member in our Math Department as well as holding the position of Resident Assistant with our Residential Program since 2015. Ms. Gaetano currently serves as the Director of Residential Life.  

Katie Mitchell
Director of College Counseling
Ms. Mitchell joined Rancho Solano in August of 2013 after 9 years working in the College Admission arena. Prior to joining Rancho Solano, she worked domestically and internationally, at the college level, helping students navigate the college admission process from both university and high school perspectives. Ms. Mitchell holds a Bachelor of University Studies from North Dakota State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from The University of Northern Colorado.

Aaron Trigg
Director of Athletics
Coach Trigg joined Rancho Solano in 2013 as Athletic Director and Head Boys' Basketball Coach.  He most recently worked for The University of Central Florida Men’s Basketball Program while  receiving his MBA and Masters in Sport Business Management at UCF. He received his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Finance from Gordon (MA) College, where he was a student-athlete and an Academic All-American. Coach Trigg is passionate about the role athletics plays in whole-student education and developing student-athletes of high character.

Dallin Payne
Associate Athletic Director
Mr. Payne holds a Master’s degree in Education and has been with Rancho Solano since 2005. Serving the school in a number of positions, he is currently the Associate Athletic Director.

Linda Head
Director of Operations
Mrs. Head has been a part of the Rancho Solano family since 2002. Serving in many capacities throughout her time with the school, she is currently the Director of Operations.
 

Chris Hall
Communications and Marketing Manager
Joining Rancho Solano in 2012, Ms. Hall has over 25 years experience working in the independent school industry. She has an Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology, Programming Concentration and holds multiple certifications in digital marketing, web development, graphic design, and photography.

Paul Santa Cruz
Technology Integration Specialist
Mr. Santa Cruz holds a Master of Education in Educational Techonology and a Bachelor of Arts in Education with an emphasis on English in secondary education. He joined Rancho Solano in 2017 after spending 21 years in public education. He has spent time both in the classroom and in the role of Campus Technology Director. 

Department Heads

Dr. Dane Spencer
English
Dr. Spencer holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tulsa where he was recognized with the University of Tulsa Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching Award and Bellwether Fellowship.  He has taught at the college level for four years and has been with Rancho Solano since 2015.

Chris Kotila
Science
Mr. Kotila holds a Master of Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications with nine years teaching experience. He joined Rancho Solano in 2015 and teaches Middle School Science.

Gordon Brown
STEM Coordinator
Mr. Brown has been teaching for the last 25 years including public, private, and community college schools. Mr. Brown holds a BA in Biological Sciences as well as Physical Education and earned his Master’s Degree from Northern Arizona University in Exercise Physiology. Mr. Brown joined RS in the fall of 2010 from Glendale Community College.  He teaches IB Biology and Anatomy Physiology. 

Philip Minneci
History
Mr. Minneci holds a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and has been a teacher and administrator for over 30 years. He joined Rancho Solano in 2014 and teaches Middle School History. 

Ryan McLeod
Mathematics
Mr. McLeod has exensive IB Math experience and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education. Teaching for over 10 years, he joined Rancho Solano in 2014 and teaches Upper School Mathematics.

Marie-Anne Valente
World Language
Ms. Valente holds a Master of Arts in French with a specialty in Comparative Literature in Spanish and French, a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature. With over 20 years of international teaching experience, she joined Rancho Solano in 2013. 

Brandon Zale
Fine Arts
Mr. Zale joined Rancho Solano in 2015, having worked as a performing arts educator for fifteen years.  A native Chicagoan, he holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Millikin University.  He has taught General Music, Choir, and Theatre classes to grades PK-12, as well as instructing private lessons and directing numerous music and theatre performances.  Brandon is also a professional actor, musician, and freelance visual artist.  

Katy Poole
PE and Health
Mrs. Poole joined Rancho Solano in 2013 and has taught Physical Education, Health Education, and Adapted Physical Education at a variety of schools across the country for the last 10 years.  She holds a B.S in Kinesiology with a concentration in Physical Education, Health Education, and Adapted Physical Education from the University of Rhode Island as well as a M.S. in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University.  She is a nationally certified APENS teacher and has coached all ages through high school in a variety of sports. 

Richard Stilliard
IB Coordinator
Joining Rancho Solano in 2015, Mr. Stilliard earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Leeds and received his Master’s in Multi-Disciplinary Studies from Buffalo State/SUNY.  He teaches IB History and American Studies, a History examiner for the IB, and has been involved in pilot studies for the Programme as well. 

Contact Us

  • Phone
  • Lower School Office:
    602.996.7002
  • Middle/Upper School Office:
    480.646.8200
  • Preschool – 5th Grades
  • 5656 E Greenway
  • Scottsdale, AZ 85254
  • USA
  • 6th-12th Grades
  • 9180 E Via de Ventura
  • Scottsdale, AZ 85258
  • USA

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