Baseball Coach Chris Millsback hits flyballs for his outfielders. (Photo by Simone DeBerry)

Longtime Math Department Head leaves Country Day

After 19 years as a teacher, coach, colleague and friend, Chris Millsback is leaving Sacramento Country Day. 

He will be teaching mathematics as well as coaching baseball and football at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts. 

At Country Day, Millsback worked as the math department chair, taught microeconomics and mathematics and coached baseball. His teaching methods, attitude and charisma will forever leave a positive impact on Country Day’s faculty and students. 

“Being at Country Day has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Millsback said. “The community that we have here is completely unmatched — it’s what kept me here for so long.”

Millsback, his wife and their families are from the East Coast. They originally moved to California so his wife could earn her Ph.D.

“We had a 5-year plan. We would move to California, my wife would complete her education and then we would go back to the East Coast,” he said. “Country Day is what kept us here this whole time. Being able to see my kids on campus and knowing the education that they are getting was a bonus as well.”

Millsback joined the school in February 2003 with mathematics teacher and Dean of Student Life Patricia Jacobsen, who joined halfway through that year.

“My first impression was terror,” Jacobsen said. “He was very obviously extremely bright and good at teaching. I subbed for him a couple of times in our first year, and I was able to see the level of expectations that he expected from his students. It really impressed me.”

With Millsback leaving, Jacobsen is now the senior faculty member of the mathematics department.

“Part of me is nervous that he is leaving,” she said. “It’s not that I think we’ll do a bad job, he was just such an important part of our team. He made such a great impact on the school and its community that it’s already hard to imagine him leaving.”

Head of High School Brooke Wells, who also joined the school in 2003, said Millsback is an excellent teacher. 

“He and Ms. J really built up our math department and were really able to incorporate mathematic subjects into the real world.”

Wells recalled a moment from a previous graduation, when teachers and faculty would honor the graduating seniors with either a “roast” or “toast.”

“I remember one year when Millsy came onto the stage in a Buzz Lightyear costume,” Wells said. “It was epic.”

Both Jacobsen and Millsback made memories together at graduation. To honor alumni and then senior Kayla Winters ’09, Millsback and Jacobsen performed a version of “Barbie Girl” for the new graduate and the rest of the high school.

“We’d wanted to do her graduation skit together because we were both really close with her,” Jacobsen said. “We had practiced a couple of times beforehand with very minimal energy, so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. During the song, he caught me totally off guard with this dance he did, I almost lost it right there on stage. That really shows who he is, someone who can let go and just have a good time.”

Millsback’s ability to connect with his students was noticed both inside and outside of the classroom.

Senior Dylan Margolis has maintained a strong connection with Millsback since his freshman year.

“My first experience with Millsback was taking the pre-calc course during the summer after my freshman year,” Margolis said. “The first memory I made with him was connecting over watching the weather channel. He gave me a look like he thought I was just messing with him because we hardly knew each other at all at that point.”

In his sophomore year, Margolis said he took AP Calculus AB with Millsback, which was “the hardest class I took in high school.” 

“I had lots of good times with him,” Margolis said. “I struggled a lot in that class but he never gave up on me, he really wanted me to succeed. I struggled on so many tests that year but I remember getting a really good grade on one and him being proud of me. I could really tell that he cared, which is a phenomenal feeling.”

Margolis also joined the baseball team that year.

“I remember being sick and missing the first practice so I went to talk to him the next day,” Margolis said. “We had a very serious talk about it, how I needed to be committed to the team, how it was more serious than little league. To be honest, he scared me straight, but I’m glad he didn’t scare me away.”

Through the sport of baseball, Millsback was able to form deeper connections with his students.

“I love baseball; it’s a huge part of my life,” Millsback said. “It has connected me with some really great people and really great student-athletes. Two specifically are Miles Edwards​ ’18 and Nate Jakobs ’19. Miles was our main guy as a freshman. He led us to our first playoff win ever. He was so smooth on the field and one of the best freshman ballplayers I have ever seen. Nate is one of the most talented players that I have ever coached. He is at Pomona-Pitzer right now, and is absolutely tearing it up.”

After years of classes, baseball and other interactions with Millsback, Margolis has reached a point in his relationship with him where he believes he can now call him a friend.

“We have really gotten close over the years,” he said. “We can openly joke with each other about anything and have conversations that will take us through such random topics. He’s a really great person and teacher and the school will definitely miss him.”

Millsback has left a lasting influence on many of Country Day’s students, faculty and the school’s community. 

“He’s always been like an older brother to me,” Jacobsen said. “He has always been there for me to support me in anything that I’ve needed and I know that this school won’t be the same without him.”

Similar to Jacobsen, Margolis said Millsback has left a lasting impact.

“Millsback’s personality and teaching style remind us all of why we are here,” he said. “Even though we have a good time together, we’re always aware that we are here to work hard for our futures. We can joke and have fun, but when the time comes, he’s there for that. The intensity that he brings is truly unparalleled and phenomenal. Without him, Country Day is going to be a much different place.”

By Miles Morrow

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