Meet the Faculty

Carrie Copithorne
"Mrs. C"


As a person who loves adventure and travel, the world of education is a perfect fit.  Each day new blessings await and new things are on the horizon.  It is wonderfully exciting to work with children and to see the Fruits of the Spirit be fostered on a daily basis. Having spent the past 20 years in the classroom, my goal is to go above and beyond by creating an environment where everyone on our campus is thriving.  Here at RAA, we not only give kids an excellent academic education but also ensure they are given opportunities to grow in character.  A favorite verse of mine is Jeremiah 33:3  ‘Call upon me and I will answer and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.’  I feel honored to have answered the call into leadership.  It is my great privilege to work with such a wonderful staff and teaching team. Together, with God’s leading, we will continue to do great things.


Mrs. C graduated from Pacific Union College with her BA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Bible, Social Studies, Science and Language Arts. She earned her Professional Clear credential, with a CLAD certificate the following year. First Aid/CPR Certified. She has been teaching since 2000.

(530) 222-1018

Edith Mandache
"Mrs. M"

Jessica Denning
"Mrs. D"
Grades 1-2

Jan Leigh
"Ms. Leigh"
Grades 3-4


Edith Mandache was born and raised in Romania. She came to the United States with her family when she was nine years old. She graduated from college with a BA in Religion with the intent to become a teacher. She met and married the love of her life, Eugen, who is a nurse at Shasta Regional. They have three children, Nathanael, 20; Brenden, 18, and Christiana, 14. Edith is passionate about all things people related, especially spending time in God’s creation hiking and backpacking. She loves running and when time allows, she enjoys writing and journalism.  Edith has been the Office Assistant at Redding Adventist Church for the past two years and has worked as a Teacher’s Aide at Redding Adventist Academy since January 2021. She will be pursuing her Master’s in Elementary Education. She is excited about the opportunity to become the Kindergarten teacher for Redding Adventist Academy, and to share God’s love and the love of learning with our youngest students.

"It is important that my classroom be a Christ-centered classroom, where kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and empathy are encouraged. I encourage my students to treat each other as family by helping each other and making sacrifices for one another. This is in contrast to the world-view, which often teaches us to do whatever it takes to get ahead. It is important for each of my students to give their personal best each and every day and to realize how incredibly precious and valuable they are to God."

Learning in Mrs. D's classroom integrates Common Core and SDA curriculum for subjects including Bible, math, language arts, social studies, science (taught per Next Generation Science Standards), art, and technology.

Students in Mrs. D's class enjoy field trips to the fire station and police dept, animal rescue, farms, the planetarium, and other community outings. Other fun activities include music, drama, writing projects, and baking.

Mrs. D has taught at RAA since 2009. She completed a bachelor's degree in liberal studies at Pacific Union College, holds a California SB 2042 Multiple Subject Clear Credential, and has earned the Seventh-day Adventist Professional Credential.



Jan Leigh originally hails from the Southern part of the US but claims California as her adopted home. A lifelong animal lover, Jan has volunteered for animal sanctuaries as well as having her own menagerie of pets from horses to chickens. She strongly believes that God appointed us caretakers of not only earth but of one another which led her to pursue a masters degree in Counseling. Jan also holds a BS in Elementary Education and holds a professional certification from the NAD in Elementary, Junior high, and High School. Having taught every grade from K through 12th, she believes there is something special about each stage of development and truly enjoys making connections with her students. But most importantly Jan wants her students to grow a deeper relationship with Jesus and to treat one another with kindness.

Debbie Gungl

"Mrs. G"

Grades 5-6



After a two-year retirement, I am back doing what I love! I have missed the
classroom and students and am so happy to be back at RAA!

My ideal classroom includes opportunities for students to know Jesus, to develop
compassionate hearts that show kindness and care to each other, their families, and the world around them. Encouraging a growth mindset, growing
academically, and becoming critical thinkers are the academic piece of the
classroom. I want my students to develop “grit” and know with hard work and perseverance, they can accomplish great things!

The goals and standards for the 5 th & 6 th grades include the SDA curriculum
standards for Bible, science, language arts, music, art, and technology. Math is Common Core from Big Ideas Learning. McGraw Hill's Discovering our Past is the social studies textbook.

Experiential and creative learning is the style I want for my classroom. We will
have STEM Fridays, art, technology, and hands-on projects in all subject areas.
Field trips are essential to me. However, this year due to the COVID restrictions, my usual field trips, outdoor science coast trip, local history, local science, and cultural trips are on hold for now. But, I am looking for some alternative ideas for including these learning experiences to my students.

I started teaching at RAA in 1993, with a two-year retirement for the 18-19 and
19-20 school years! I have my CA Clear Multiple Subjects Credential and my SDA Professional Credential. I graduated from CSUS with a BA in Liberal Studies and the 5th year in education. I earned my SDA credential from Pacific Union College.


I love traveling with my husband, especially if it includes seeing our grand kids and/or the coast!

My go-to Bible verses are Joshua 1:9 (be strong and courageous) and Romans 8:35 – 39

(nothing can separate us from God's love)

Melissa Gibson

"Mrs. Gibson"

Grades 7-8



Melissa Gibson is new to Redding Adventist Academy this year.  She is bringing 20 years of teaching experience, from homeschooling her own children for a number of years, to teaching students across all levels of K-12. Her passion for reading led her to earn her M.A. in Education with an emphasis in Reading.  She also loves to incorporate hands on project-based activities into her teaching.  Beyond her fervor for reading and projects, Mrs. Gibson has a passion for excellence and sharing her love for Jesus with her students.

We all look forward to your child

joining us at RAA!

Staff Directory

"RAA is more than a school; it's a family. For 13 years, I was surrounded by teachers who had my best interest in mind, both academically and spiritually. Today I consider those teachers as mentors and friends, as they have continued to show me love and support even after graduation."

Alex Dunbar, MPH / RAA HS Graduating Class of 2010