Foothill Country Day is led by the Head of School and a team of administrators who join together in close partnership with teachers, administrative staff, and parent volunteers to create a thriving learning community for its students.
Mike Silva, Head of School
Mike Silva was appointed head of school in 2011, continuing his career as a teacher and administrator in independent schools in California, New York, and Virginia. A defining aspect of the experiences Mike brought to Foothill is that no matter these schools’ size or missions, each placed great value on the relationship between child and teacher, and the commitment to meet children where they are, so they are stimulated, challenged, and excited to learn. Mike deeply values Foothill’s unwavering commitment to improving pedagogy and curriculum—the teaching practices and the learning program—so students develop the ability to read and communicate well, think critically, embrace different perspectives, and act with kindness and courage.
During Mike’s tenure, enrollment at Foothill has grown almost 30% along with new programs and offerings such as the Foothill Orchestra, Speech & Debate program, a Singapore Math-based curriculum, expansions in middle school and arts. Mike partners closely with his board of trustees, senior team of administrators, faculty and staff, as well as our parents’ association, the Betty Webb Organization, to ensure Foothill students find stimulation, excitement, and challenge while the development of their character remains at the forefront of all priorities. Most recently, Mike led a very collaborative CAIS-WASC reaccreditation process which included the development of a new mission statement and core values for Foothill Country Day School.
Mike earned a B.A. in English Literature from UC Berkeley and an M.Ed. in Special Education from California State University, Northridge. He has served as a facilitator of New Trustee Workshops for the California Association of Independent Schools, is a past member of the board of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, and currently sits on the board of St. Mark’s School in Altadena, California. His wife, Debbie, is also a teacher in an independent school, and both of their children have been educated in independent schools. An avid runner, Mike enjoys reading and spending time with Debbie and the kids when he’s not with his Foothill family.
Urmi Kar, Director of Advancement
Urmi Kar is the Director of Advancement and in her role oversees fundraising, parent and alumni relations, as well as marketing and communications at Foothill. Urmi has been in independent schools and colleges her entire career, in a variety of capacities in admissions, communications, and fundraising. Prior to coming to Foothill in 2016, Urmi worked at Echo Horizon School, Vistamar School, Marlborough School, and Whittier College. She holds a Bachelor’s in English and history from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and a Master’s in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. Urmi deeply values the opportunity to work closely with Foothill parents and families, partner with her colleagues, and whenever possible, find a way to bring together family and friends over a delicious meal.
Margaret Lofgren, Upper School Director
In her role, Margaret Lofgren oversees all school matters related to 6th-8th grade students and their families, including Student Council. She has been in this role the last three years. Having been at Foothill for 21 years, Margaret has worn numerous hats at the School, including Dean of the Upper School, 6th-8th history teacher, and 6th- grade Latin teacher. Before arriving to Foothill, Margaret attended Georgetown University and Teachers College, Columbia University and worked at two independent high schools in California. When not on campus, Margaret enjoys running and hiking in the hills of Claremont and spending time with her family.
Hytosha McDaniels, Director of Seedling School
Hytosha McDaniels has been in the field of early childhood education for 25 years, having taught at both public and independent schools throughout her career, and serving as the Director of The Seedling School for the past 18 years.
Hytosha received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Northridge in Child Development with a minor in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University, with a degree in Teaching/Administration. She also has a credential from the California Commission on Credentialing, and serves as a consultant for the State of California for teacher credentialing.
Her professional experiences include serving on the California Association for the Education of Young Children, and a member of Jack and Jill of America Inc. With her lifelong commitment to educating children and families about the importance of early childhood, Hytosha has worked with many decades of Seedling and Foothill students.
Colette Sims, Director of Enrollment
Colette Sims was thrilled to join the Foothill community in Fall 2017. After graduating from the University of Redlands with a degree in History and German, she joined the Peace Corps and taught ESL in Ukraine. She realized that working with prospective families in the admissions process was the perfect fit for her at Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she served as Assistant Director of Admissions & Financial Aid. She now serves as the Director of Enrollment at Foothill and oversees all facets of the admission process, including communications with prospective families, student matriculation and re-enrollment, and promoting Foothill’s representation in the larger community. Colette loves the daily interactions with students, families, and the broader community on campus. She invites you to stop by the Main Office for a cup of coffee and say hello!
Lisa Ulsh, Lower School Director
Dr. Lisa Ulsh joins Foothill Country Day School in August 2019 with nearly 30 years of experience in independent schools as both an administrator and teacher. A lifelong educator of young children, she is passionate about the importance of children’s early school experiences. She believes that school should be a joyful place for every child and should value the whole child in its mission and in the enacted life of teaching and learning. She believes our laser focus as educators must be to nurture and graduate well-rounded young people, with strong academic and creative skills, sound character, resilient perseverance, and an abiding love for learning. Her life in education has been to inspire and guide teachers and students to this end.
Most recently, Lisa was the Lower School Principal at Colorado Academy, a PK-12 school in Colorado, where she led the implementation of Readers’ and Writers’ Workshops and Responsive Classroom; made significant improvements in Lower School mathematics program; and pioneered Family STEAM Nights as a way of building community and connecting parents to the curriculum.
Prior to Colorado Academy, Lisa was a National Board-certified science teacher, department chair, and summer academic program director for two decades at Westridge School for Girls, a 4-12 independent school in Pasadena. There she championed girls’ participation in math and science, led numerous curricular and pedagogical innovations, and helped develop and implement an evaluation process for experienced teachers.
In addition to her teaching and leadership roles in K-12 independent schools, she was a member of the adjunct faculty in the Teacher Education Department at Claremont Graduate University, where she taught science and math teacher interns and supervised their pre-service teaching in local public schools. Lisa earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology cum laude from Colorado College, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University.
A native Coloradoan, Lisa loves the outdoors and pursues a host of activities that include hiking, camping, skiing, and cycling. She loves to garden, cook, and read in her spare time. She is involved with local and international community organizations that serve children and education. Lisa has two sons, who live in Oregon and New York, and a kitty, named Amy, who listens to NPR while she’s at school.
Danielle Witten, Director of Finance and Operations
Danielle joined Foothill as Chief Financial Officer in 2015. Prior to her independent school experience, she obtained her CPA license and spent the first fourteen years of her career at a local public accounting firm in Glendora. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Cal Poly Pomona.
Danielle is responsible for various areas within the school community including finances, facilities, kitchen operations, the extended day program, and is also involved in technology throughout the campus. Her two young children attend Foothill as well.
Danielle says she most enjoys the variety and challenge of every day at Foothill. “I feel lucky to experience this wonderful community as both a parent and employee, and I think that helps me appreciate a wide perspective when making decisions. I love being involved in supporting the programs and initiatives of the School on a daily basis.”