P.E. teacher Denise Santos

Q & A: Bill Stainbrook’s replacement lives and breathes athletics

Shimin Zhang
P.E. teacher Denise Santos

Denise Santos is the new lower-school P.E. teacher, replacing Bill Stainbrook, who retired in June.


Q: Where have you taught before?

A: I was a student P.E. teacher at Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep (NP3), which is a middle school, and at Oakdale Elementary School.


Q: How long have you taught?

A: Two years. I went through (an) undergrad program to get my bachelor’s, and then I went through a teaching program. Right at the end of my senior year in college, I started teaching. Then I got my teaching credential.


Q: Where did you go to college?

A: Sac State. I graduated from my undergrad in May 2016 and the teaching credential program this past May.


Q: Why do you like teaching P.E.?

A: I have always been the type of kid that can’t sit in a chair (without becoming) anxious to get up.

I love sports. I grew up really outgoing and wanted to be with friends.

I also liked the idea of being strong, healthy and knowledgeable. I was not great (at) science, math or English, but sports and moving, I got.

I like being around kids. (It makes me) feel awesome. They give me lots of energy, which is what I crave every day. I don’t (like) being tired. I want to wake up and feel like I can run a marathon.


Q: What sports have you played?

A: I did tennis, which was my number-one (sport). I’ve (also) done track and field, soccer, football, softball, rowing and field hockey.


Q: How did you hear about Country Day?

A: I was online looking for a job because I had just graduated. I wanted to stay in Sacramento, but there weren’t any jobs available. My credential doesn’t (allow me) to apply to public schools. (Country Day) came up, and I was like “What is this?” I typed in the address, and it was (only) two minutes away from my house.

I started researching it and I applied. The rest is history.


Q: Why Country Day?

A: There are so many reasons. First, (I) felt such a strong connection with the environment and people. I had never heard of Country Day until I came here to interview. I met (assistant head of school) Tucker (Foehl, and head of school) Lee (Thomson), and they were just awesome. The vibe felt good. It felt like I could be myself.

(In) my first interview they were so adamant about diversity and being inclusive.

Also, the P.E. department (is) an everyday thing and (is) supported by everyone. At most schools you don’t get that.


Q: What do you like to do outside of teaching?

A: I’m into fitness and working out. I do a lot of powerlifting. I’m (also) really into crossfit. Although I haven’t done it yet, I like to watch.

—By Anna Frankel

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