Oona McKnight

Registrar/Director of Academic Services
University of California, Berkeley, MS
University of California , Berkeley, BS
email: oona.mcknight [at] sonomaacademy.org
phone: (707) 636-2013

Oona has the enormous task of managing all of our academic logistics: class placement, scheduling, room assignments, grade administration, and much, much more. It’s a good thing that her education prepared her for the delicate art of building and balancing; Oona earned her BS and MS in Civil Engineering. As the 2019 Yearbook dedication says, “she quietly tinkers away making sure that all of the school’s pins are in place, cogs are aligned, and springs are properly tensioned so that Sonoma Academy can work like clockwork.”

A native of Sonoma County, Oona attended Justin Siena High School and then UC Berkeley for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. When she found her career exploration in engineering to be a bit less exciting than she had hoped, she took a job at the Sonoma Ecology Center, helping volunteers to study steelhead salmon habitats. It was there that she was first pulled into the education field; one of her volunteers was a former Head of School, who noticed that Oona had a knack for teaching people in a gentle and helpful way. He suggested that she get a teaching job overseas, and Oona set off for Singapore, where she taught for six years at an international school. 

Shortly after she returned to the States in 2007, Oona learned about a young high school in Santa Rosa from her friend, Sonoma Academy parent Mary Dale (Jack Roney ‘18 and Kate Roney ‘20). “We were at a party together. At the time, Mary was the Head of Admissions, and she had heard that I had experience teaching math and science,” says Oona. “The STEM department needed an emergency long-term substitute, and she thought I might be interested.” It was quite a fortuitous weekend for Oona—she happened to meet Eric Moes, now her husband, at the same party! 

Over the next few years, Oona taught everything from Pre-Calc to AP Statistics, as well as Intro to Engineering, Applied Math, and Chemistry, subbing during maternity leaves and working as a tutor when she wasn’t teaching a class. When our Registrar retired in 2011, we suspected that Oona would be a good person to take on the role. “I am really well-suited for this position,” says Oona. “And I still get to teach in a more one-on-one kind of way, helping students navigate their course schedules and assisting staff, too.”

Outside of school, Oona can be found reading a good mystery, digging in her garden, hiking or biking, or picking berries. She’s also very musical—she has played the piano since the age of 7, and she loves to sing. Amanda’s Community Choir Exploratory, a group of students and staffulty who come together to sing twice a week, was a welcome addition to Oona’s work day. “It’s the highlight of my day,” she says. “It fills me with joy. I have always loved to sing in a choir, but Amanda is just the best.”
 
"Singing in the Community Choir is the highlight of my day. It fills me with joy."

Sonoma Academy Is...

Sonoma Academy is the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.