Monticello School takes great pride in providing our students with Master Academicians (educator specialists) in each subject area. All teachers have graduated from their universities with Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude designations. All are credentialed, experienced professional educators. They have earned Masters Degrees and even higher post graduate degrees.Their vast knowledge, deep enjoyment of their subject area and love for teaching are evident in the enthusiasm, inspiration and creativity they bring to the classroom. They motivate students to enjoy learning and achieve to academic excellence.
Monticello Preparatory School Faculty Biographies
Rebecca Cranert—Chief of School
Mrs. Cranert’s passion for education and her determination to assure that Monticello students develop a true “love of learning” is evident in every aspect of of a Monticello Preparatory School education. Before founding Monticello Preparatory School, Mrs. Cranert graduated from the California State University of Los Angeles with degrees in English Literature and Education with emphasis in Humanities, Music and Theater with Cum Laude designation. She was selected to participate in the Honors Humanities Program at California State University of San Jose. Mrs. Cranert won full scholarships to both The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and the very prestigious USC-Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Workshop. She earned the Option Single Subject Credential at the CSULA. She is a Nationally Certificated School Administrator. Mrs. Cranert, an educator of many years in both public and private schools, served as Chairman of the English and Fine Arts Department at St. Genevieve High School. She developed the Multi-Cultural Drama Enrichment Program for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Mrs. Cranert served as the Director of the Theater Program for the Los Angeles County Arts Counsel. Mrs. Cranert teaches upper levels of Elementary and Middle School Literature and Composition, Theater and Vocal Music to aspiring singers at Monticello Preparatory School. Mrs. Cranert studied vocal technique with legendary vocal maestro, Seth Riggs, whose exclusive list of students include Barbara Streisand, Natalie Cole and Michael Jackson. Mrs. Cranert headlined at major venues throughout the West coast with her ten-piece show band. She also produced and directed professional theatrical productions throughout the Los Angeles area. Currently, Mrs. Cranert serves on the Adult Education Committee at First Presbyterian Church of Newhall.
Patricia Curran—Lead Teacher of Lower Houses
Mrs. Curran serves as the Primary School Lead Teacher. She has been at Monticello Preparatory Schoo; for 4 years. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the California State University of Northridge where she was also awarded her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Mrs. Curran also graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of the Canyons. She is fluent in French, Polish and English. Mrs. Curran is a Primary School Specialist and also teaches French at the Elementary School level.
Rose Smither has been at Monticello since it’s founding. She brings her love and enthusiasm of Art to our school with every class that she teaches.
Mrs. Smither graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration from the University of Northridge. She also studied at the Pasadena Art Center
College of Design. In addition to teaching at Monticello Preparatory school, Mrs. Smither illustrates children’s books. Her work is displayed in art galleries throughout Southern California. In addition to teaching Art, Mrs. Smither teaches Language Arts Grammar to Upper House Students.
Mr. J.U., as Monticello students call him, is delighted to be able to serve at Monticello Preparatory School in both the Music and Humanities departments, where he actively strives to educate and illuminate our next generation of leaders in music, history, and Latin. Ben graduated with an MFA in Composition from the California Institute for the Arts, and is active in the film and television industry here in Los Angeles, including being nominated for “Best Music” during the 2011 Burbank International Film Festival. Ben Johnston-Urey is a performer/composer, clinician, and educator whose works have been heard and performed both nationally and abroad. His debut solo album, Travelogue, won “Classical Album of the Year” and “Classical Single of the Year” during the 2008 MAMA awards.
Straddling two equally important passions has been a lifelong balancing act for Ben. After receiving his undergraduate degrees from Carthage College in both Music (Piano Performance) and Classical History and spending time traveling throughout Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe, Ben took time off from music to pursue his second passion- history. This culminated in a summer-long experience participating in an active archaeological excavation in Omrit, Israel. Afterward, he spent time speaking as guest lecturer in antiquity and social-economics and teaching in several private institutions both in the United States and in China.
Alongside this, Ben’s Christian faith has been an ever-present element in his life. He has had the great opportunity to serve as a Christ-follower both as the Co-Director of Worship for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Madison, Wisconsin and as the current organist for the First Presbyterian Church of Newhall.
Andrea Walters earned her Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis in Best Practices from National University. She was awarded Cum Laude status upon graduation. She also earned her Multi-subject California State Teaching Credential from National University. Ms. Walters graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Ms Walters has taught upper level elementary grade levels in Santa Clarita as well as in Los Angeles. She teaches Math and Science to Upper House students at Monticello.
Carolina Dozal serves as Monticello’s Director of Athletics. Her experience includes serving as Sports Recreation Leader at the City of Santa Clarita Community Center, Coaching studenst in the surrounding area in sports such as soccer, tennis, basketball and karate to name only a few. She has served as assistant Soccer Coach at C.O.C. since 2007. Previous to that, she coordinated intramural sports for more than 2000 students at University of California, San Diego.
Melanie Grunwald graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Master’s College with a degree in Liberal Studies, with emphasis in elementary education and a minor in Spanish. She has a love for music, and is an extremely talented pianist. She accompanies the children’s Sunday School choir at her church, and has taught music lessons to young students prior to coming to Monticello Preparatory School. At Monticello, Miss Grunwald assists in Sacagawea house and directs Upper House Study Hall. She is grateful to God to be a part of the Monticello Family!
Kelly Shanahan has developed the immensely popular Middle School Rock Band Program at Monticello. Kelly Shanahan began working professionally at age 16 with players such as Larry Carlton, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, Mike Pocaro (of Toto) and David Paich. Within a few short years, Kelly was playing and recording with Rock and R and B icons such as Boz Skaggs, Jimmy Buffet, Dan Fogelberg, John Sebastian, Eddie Money, The Mark/Almond Band, Cher, Seals and Crofts and Randy Mesiner (The Eagles) to name only a few. Mr. Shanahan continues to record and play professionally in addition to teaching and passing along his legacy of excellence in music to a new generation of students. Kelly instructs students in Rock, Jazz, Big Band, R and B, and Show styles.
Martin Fox—Professor Emeritus
A graduate Summa Cum Laude in the Baccalaureate and Master of Arts programs of the California State University of Long Beach, Mr. Fox holds California State Teaching Credentials in three different subject areas, History, Social Studies and Language Arts. As a young man, Mr. Fox studied with the Jesuits and was then a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels Organization! Before joining the faculty of Monticello Preparatory School, Mr. Fox, a father of three, was Chairman of the Languages Department at the world renowned Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. We are honored to have Mr. Fox as a member of our faculty. He is a glowing example to our students of the multi-talented and well rounded person to which we encourage our students to aspire. This is what Mr. Fox has to say about Monticello, “Monticello offers not merely learning but “Love of Learning.” The teachers at Monticello understand this vitally important concept. The leadership of Mrs. Cranert is both palpable and inspiring. We are reminded why we are here and what is possible…She understands that education is such a precious, fragile and vitally important part of who these young students are to become…I had the pleasure of teaching at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks for many years. I knew the founder of the school, Mrs. Isabelle Palms Buckley, very well and much admired her. I cannot help but see a young Dr. Buckley in Mrs. Cranert and I can see Monticello in the near future becoming, and even surpassing a school like Buckley.”