TranslateThe Hub

SAAS: A Note from Rob on Upper School Deans and Program Directors

Dear SAAS Families,

Over the past couple of weeks, we highlighted our Middle School Leadership team, including our new Middle School Deans Julie Holstad, Ricardo Rivera and Allison Reddy. As the month changes to May, and soon June, many of us turn our attention to the Upper School where faculty and students are busy with senior internships, Prom Night, and Graduation. I want to turn our attention to some of our faculty and staff in the Upper School who are pivotal to the success of these Upper School students day in and day out. 

I am excited to announce our new Upper School Deans Alisha Agard and Alice Laskin, both of whom are already leading the charge in many areas of student life. I also want to highlight some faculty members with new or existing titles — Gerald Elliott, Freddy Carley, and Cathy Schick — who have been with SAAS for quite some time and who provide program continuity in the fields of robotics, outdoor trips, and athletics programs.  

Meet New Year's Upper School Deans

I am excited to announce that Alisha Agard will be joining the Upper School Leadership team as Upper School Dean starting the 2022-23 school year! Alisha is an alumna of Seattle Academy, graduating in 2011, and she continued her education at Whitman College where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. In her work before rejoining the SAAS community, Alisha designed and facilitated youth programs with a focus on civic engagement while working to educate and empower youth around voting and social justice.


Alisha’s powerful ability to connect with students and her love for education inspired her to rejoin the SAAS community in 2020 as a 9th Grade Coordinator, Upper School history teacher, and co-advisor for Seattle Academy’s Black Student Union. Alisha’s passion for student leadership leads her to continue the work of youth empowerment and we are looking forward to all that she will bring to the role of Upper School Dean next school year.  

I am equally excited to announce that Alice Laskin will also be continuing her work in the Upper School Leadership team next year! Alice has served as Interim Dean of Students this year and done an excellent job of leading in a way that is listening-oriented, caring, and collaborative. Alice started at SAAS as an Upper School French teacher in 2016 after teaching abroad and earning an M.A. in French Literature with Middlebury College School in France. During her time at SAAS, she has been an Interim World Languages Department Chair, advisor to students, led a memorable trip to France, and coached Middle School tennis. 

Alice left SAAS for one year in 2020-21 to earn an M.Ed. in Private School Leadership at the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University Teachers College. She returned this year with an understanding of independent schools from a systems-thinking lens and is excited to collaborate with the Upper School Leadership team as the 11th-12th Grade Dean of Students.

Do You Know Our Program Directors?

I am thrilled to announce Gerald Elliott as our new Program Director for Robotics. Before working at SAAS Gerald built marine robots at a University of Washington machine shop for a decade. Gerald has been involved in the robotics program since he started at SAAS nine years ago. During this time he has watched robotics grow from 10 students to more than 40, and he has helped grow the program to include many robotics leagues and options for students.

Our robotics team has made it to the World Championships in Houston three times. Not only has Gerald run the robotics machine shop, but he was the faculty member we can thank for resaearching and setting up shop in the STREAM building. As Gerald puts it, “We have the most powerful and precise machines on campus!” Next year will be his first year stepping into the robotics director role, but he has coached regular robotics, Middle School robotics, and underwater robotics throughout his nine years here. Very few words are needed to say he is a fantastic choice for director next year. 

In addition to robotics, Gerald also teaches 9th & 12th grade history and coaches SAAS' Ethics Bowl team, which has the most championships in the state and has made it to the Nationals at UNC Chapel Hill three times. 

I am equally excited to introduce Freddy Carley as our new Outdoor, Travel, and Summer Camp Director starting the 2022-23 school year. This is Freddy’s eighth year at SAAS. Many of us can probably recall a trip we took with Freddy, and some can even count on at least one trip per year with him. He has led countless 6th grade Alaska trips, 9th grade Odyssey trips, and a yearly senior Yukon trip (including this year’s “Y-utah-n” trip – and save for the Covid years of 2020 and 2021). Freddy has been pivotal in many arenas at SAAS where he has held titles of 9th and 10th Grade Coordinator, Student Facilitator Program Mentor, Assistant Outdoor and Travel Coordinator, and famed boys varsity golf coach. Not only has the golf team won two state championships and the state academic award – but Freddy has also won league Coach of the Year multiple times.

He is also an alumnus of the class of 2004! I know students, families, and faculty –  myself included! - are excited to get trips back up and running to their full capacity, as they are not only foundational to the SAAS education, they provide some of the best memories we take away each year. 

Last but not least, I want to highlight Cathy Schick who is certainly not new to the role of Athletic Director, but who continues to guide and enhance the athletic program in a notable way. Cathy started at SAAS in 2002 when she was hired to coach the Middle School basketball team, then JV, Assistant Athletic Director, and became Head Athletic Director in 2007. She is also currently a SAAS parent. She has been an advisor for 16 years and led many SAAS trips of which Vietnam is her signature trip. Cathy is a Certified Master Athletic Administrator and sits on the WIAA Executive Board. She has won numerous awards, including Hall of Fame at Montana State and District Athletic Director of the Year in 2015-16 and again in 2020-21. 

Throughout her time at SAAS she has coached varsity girls basketball and Middle School boys basketball, and I cannot even quantify the number of teams she has coached to success. Her patience, guidance, and instincts on the court are valued by generations of SAAS students. This is proven time and again when alumni return to SAAS to become coaches themselves. Cathy says: “My proudest moment is when students come back and coach for me; that is my biggest joy.”  

It is thanks to our leadership in these programs that SAAS remains a highly sought-after school for students looking to learn and grow in robotics, athletics and in education that extends beyond our classrooms. In the coming weeks, be sure to look for reintroductions of our Academic Leadership team as we continue to highlight new and long-standing faculty and staff. 


Rob Phillips
Head of School