New Crew on the Block

This year, Sage Hill welcomes several new staff members.

Sanan Shrinian

Ms. Shirinian, a passionate member of the global community, is joining Sage this year as Sage Center Director. She has worked in private schools as a teacher and a principal, though she believes that “[her] experiences in the world outside of [her] career have been equally instrumental in shaping who [she is].” Her previous experience also includes dealing with social justice and human rights issues. For example, she worked in refugee camps in Jordan to serve 200 Syrian refugee children and to help give them hope in less than ideal circumstances.

Ms. Shirinian said that she looks forward to “connecting with new humans, having an academic space to think critically and deeply about issues of our time, taking part in developing a vibrant and inclusive school culture, and so much more” here at Sage. Outside of her passion for service, Ms. Shrinian said she also enjoys reading (mostly non-fiction), listening to podcasts, and traveling around the world.

Alyssa Flynn

This year, Mrs. Flynn is joining Sage Hill as the Associate Director of 9th and 10th Grade College Counseling. Her professional career started in Kansas City, MO, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in counseling and guidance. For the past 15 years, she has been at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, where she was the Director of Counseling & School Counselor.

Mrs. Flynn truly enjoys supporting her students and welcomes them to reach out at any time. She says that here at Sage, she is most looking forward to “getting to know the students.” Mrs. Flynn said, “I truly enjoy working with high school students and partnering with them on their journey toward graduation. I am also very excited about my role as Lead Class Advisor for the sophomore class and helping to support the advisors working with those students during advisory and service learning.”

Outside of helping her students reach their high school and college dreams, Mrs. Flynn enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters (age 12 and 9), and her mini schnauzer, Polly. She also loves going to the beach, working out at Orange Theory Fitness and riding her Peloton bike.

Sara Graham

Mrs. Graham is joining Sage this year as the Sage Center Assistant Director for Global Outreach. Prior to joining Sage, she was the Director of International Programs and an academic advisor at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, MD, where she taught and developed a curriculum for the Global History and Mandarin Chinese Programs. Mrs. Graham also has extensive neuroeducation training, and in 2018, she was selected to be an Omidyar Teacher Research Fellow for The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, where she published a year-long action research project that explored student choice and motivation.

Mrs. Graham said that she is “thrilled that at Sage Hill there is an entire center, the Sage Center, dedicated to inspiring students to become agents of change through innovative curriculum that facilitates engagement with local and global communities.” She mentions that she is very excited to be part of the center that houses these influential programs.

In her free time, Mrs. Graham enjoys spending her spare moments with family. She also loves to cook and finds joy in organic gardening.

Dinh Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is joining Sage as a mathematics teacher. He taught at Polytechnic School in Pasadena for 4 years prior to Sage. He says that he looks forward to “getting to know the students at Sage the most and getting involved in activities outside the classroom such as sporting events and Spring at Sage.” In addition to being a math teacher, Dr. Nguyen will also be an assistant coach for tennis.

In his free time, Dr. Nguyen likes to go on hikes with his friends, play tennis, go running, and play video games.

Maggie Raiken

This year, Ms. Raiken is joining Sage Hill as the Director of Advancement Services. She first started fundraising “13 years ago, first working in political fundraising all across the country.” When she moved back to Los Angeles, Ms. Raiken worked in non-profit fundraising and volunteer management. This is her sixth year working in a school, and she has previously worked at a PreK-6th grade elementary school and a K-12 independent school, both in Los Angeles.

At Sage, Ms. Raiken is “looking forward to getting to know the community, which so far has been very welcoming and supportive of [her].” She also mentions that she is very excited to co-advise an 11th grade advisory this year alongside Ms. Livermore.

In her free time, Ms. Raiken loves to cook, bake, and explore new restaurants. She also enjoys spending time with her parent’s puppy, Benny, a Maltese-Poodle, who she says is “definitely a Covid-Puppy.” Ms. Raiken also mentioned that she loves reading a good book, or binge-watching reality TV.

Beth Mawhinney

Ms. Mawhinney joined Sage this year as the Library Media Specialist. Previously, she worked in social services for over six years, primarily focusing on at-risk youth, the unhoused population, and the Department of Mental Health. For example, she recently was a case manager for the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles.

Ms. Mawhinney says that she is looking forward to “building connections with students, faculty, and staff, adding “I’m excited for opportunities to help students and the Sage Community build strong research skills so they can find the information they need, and stumble upon information they might want but did not know existed yet!”

When she is not at Sage, Ms. Mawhinney says she spends her time at the beach, hiking, and camping with her family and two dogs. She also enjoys reading short story collections, cooking, and listening to Latin Jazz.

Liz Chung

Mrs. Chung joins Sage Hill as an English teacher. This year marks her twentieth year of teaching, and she began her career teaching in independent schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Baltimore, Maryland. She then transitioned to public schools in Maryland where she taught a wide range of subjects, including English for all grade levels, including AP English Language and Composition, and Gate and Talented Research Course. Mrs. Chung says that “those were some of my most memorable years as I still keep in touch with many of my students.” She moved to Southern California five years ago with her family, where she taught 9th and 11th grade English at Foothill High School.

Here at Sage, Mrs. Chung says that she is looking forward to “developing a close relationship with my advisory, meeting and supporting my students in developing their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, and exchanging ideas with my colleagues at Sage Hill.” Mrs. Chung says that the school has been very supportive of her already, and she can’t wait to “strengthen those bonds with everyone in the Sage Hill community.”

In her free time, Mrs. Chung values spending quality time with her family of four. They play competitive games, explore good food and new restaurants, and experiment with new recipes. Mrs. Chung gets her daily through Barre3, a full body balancing workout, which she says “allows me to be more pliable while strengthening my core and muscles.” When she has free time, she also enjoys playing a round of golf out on the courses. Mrs. Chung is also fluent in Korean and speaks some French.

Ha Tran

Ms. Tran is Sage Hill’s new Human Resources/Payroll Specialist. She has over 25 years of payroll experience in various industries before Sage, including working for companies such as Allergan, Karma Automotive, and Meggitt-USA Services. After so many years of working in big corporations, Tran says that she is very happy to be at Sage. “It is definitely a change of pace, a more relaxed environment with genuinely nice co-workers,” she said.

Outside of work, Ms. Tran enjoys spending time with her husband and children whenever she can. They enjoy going out to eat, watching movies, playing board games, and travelling together.

Jim Lau

Mr. Lau is joining Sage this year as a mathematics teacher. Previous to coming to Sage, Mr. Lau taught 15 years at Crossroads School in Santa Monica and 6 years previously at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, adding up to a total of 21 years of teaching experience. Outside of teaching, he enjoys practicing Kung Fu, cooking, and playing music. Mr. Lau is also bilingual in Chinese and English. When asked what he looks forward to here at Sage, Mr. Lau said, “I look forward to seeing my students each day.”

Tamara Conger

Ms. Conger joins Sage Hill as the Executive Assistant to the Head of School with over twenty years of experience under her belt. She has worked in many different types of schools in Eastern Washington, from public and private elementary schools to college education settings. Ms. Conger wanted to “escape snowy winters and be closer to my daughter ,” so she moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and began working as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent at San Marino Unified School District. There, Ms. Conger says she was very fortunate to “work with some phenomenal people who are truly dedicated to their work in education.”

Here at Sage, Ms. Conger says that she is “very excited to be part of the Sage community. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work on such a beautiful campus with the energy of students and great coworkers!”

In her free time, Ms. Conger likes to get out in nature, enjoying a variety of activities ranging from going to the beach, hiking, and walking her dog through neighborhood parks. Since she is relatively new to Orange County, she says that “there is a lot more yet to explore.”