Our goal is for every teacher to provide a safe and loving classroom environment, whether we are practicing distance or in-person learning.
We have streamlined our application process with modifications, including no longer requiring outside testing (KSP for kindergarten and ISEE for grades 6-8). If you would like to register for a fall visit, ask general questions, request a more detailed virtual tour, and/or to connect with our admissions office, please fill out an inquiry form and create an online account.
We can't wait to show you what a Gooden education is all about!
Jo-Anne Woolner is the head of school at Gooden. Since 1994, Mrs. Woolner has served the school as interim head of school, director of the Middle School, registrar, and teacher of English, social studies, and Latin after originally joining the school community as a parent of four Gooden students. She received her Bachelor of Arts/Science in English from the University of Calgary (Canada) and Master of Arts in medieval history and languages and Master of Philosophy in Catholic Church history from New York University. In addition to teaching at NYU before moving to California, she has been a presenter at regional independent school conferences and has been a volunteer and board member at several community-based nonprofits in Pasadena.
Brian Mathess has been at The Gooden School since 2017 and provides crucially important leadership in the business office, with oversight of human resources, benefits, finance, and facilities operations. With a bachelor’s in computer science from California State University, Los Angeles, Mr. Mathess has over 25 years of experience in corporate information technology in the financial services industry. He has held positions at Jet Propulsion Laboratories, IBM, Clark Consulting, Arcadia Christian School, as well as managing his own information technology consulting company.
Mr. Mathess enjoys cooking, wine tasting, and spending time with his son and daughter.
Laurie Tortell started teaching at Gooden in 2008 as the Middle School science and math teacher. With over twenty years teaching experience in middle and high schools, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and her teaching credential with a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) from the University of California, San Diego. Originally from Louisiana, she likes to spend time outdoors: gardening, walking, going to the beach, and swimming. A resident of Sierra Madre, she is married with two children in college.
Mrs. Tortell feels that it is a privilege to be a teacher, that her work is being a trustee of the future. Teachers help lead students to a wider, more exciting, more meaningful world by helping them to understand themselves, their classmates, and their environment. Her goal for students is that they will become thoughtful citizens, independent, and lifelong thinkers and leaders who will contribute positively to their communities. She has a particular interest in middle school education and knows that for that age group, as a teacher and Gooden's Middle School director, it is not enough to know the periodic table or scientific process if you don’t really care that your students are unhappy or overwhelmed by the stresses of adolescence. She feels the best teachers teach the content of their curriculum, but they also teach life skills, from organization and planning to getting along with others, to taking care of themselves and the world in which they live.
Tricia Xavier has been at The Gooden School since 2018. She has a Bachelor’s of Fine Art from California Institute of the Arts and a certificate of leadership in enrollment management from the University of Southern California. She has spent the past fourteen years within the independent school world sharing her expertise in admissions, enrollment, development, marketing, communications, and database management to a variety of schools throughout Los Angeles. Though she has lived in many places (Los Angeles, San Diego, and Michigan) and experienced many exciting career paths (including casting, tutoring, production, and voiceover work) she has found her home at Gooden. When she is not singing Gooden’s praises, she enjoys reading fantasy series, cuddling with her daughter, hiking with her Boston Terrier, and traveling with her husband. Mrs. Xavier is grateful for the opportunity to introduce more families to the exceptional community at Gooden.
Melanie Davis has been at Gooden since 2001, where she started as the second-grade teacher. In 2006, she became the fourth-grade teacher. Currently, in addition to teaching fourth grade, she is curriculum director and the upper elementary division director. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a Bachelor of Science degree in social science with a social work concentration, and teaching licenses from Massachusetts in elementary education and special education from Westfield State University. She is from Massachusetts and is an avid Red Sox fan. Ms. Davis likes to hike in her free time, read historical fiction or mysteries, and spend time with friends. Providing children with a balanced education that is both challenging and joyful is an integral part of her educational philosophy.
Meredith Paz has been at The Gooden School since 2010 as a parent, and since 2011 as a teacher. With almost twenty years of teaching experience, she teaches kindergarten and serves as the lower elementary division director. She attended the University of San Francisco receiving a bachelor’s degree in English literature. She got her Multi-Subject Teaching Credential and CLAD (Cross Cultural, Language, and Academic Development) certification through the Los Angeles Unified School District Intern Program. She has a passion for reading and inspiring young learners to read.
When Mrs. Paz is not in her classroom working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. They love to travel, try new foods, and go on family adventures. She also enjoys reading, writing, crafting, and exercising with her dog, Quinn. She feels blessed to be a part of the Gooden School community.