Ashley Carruth - Humanities Department
In 2005, Ashley received her B.A. in English and Education from Dartmouth College. After graduation, she traveled to Kenya with two friends from Dartmouth (Fred and Milton Ochieng’) to build a medical clinic in their rural village, Lwala. Between Kenya and Animas, Ashley worked for the International Rescue Committee in Seattle as she led a cultural orientation and English language program for recently resettled refugees; started a project-based learning school-within-a-school at Basalt Middle School; and completed her Master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at Stanford University. Growing up with the mountains of Colorado as her playground instilled in Ashley a strong sense of place rooted in scree fields, aspen tree groves and small mountain towns. When Ashley’s not in her classroom, you might find her on a remote trail– running, mountain biking or skiing. She is thrilled to begin her 8th year of teaching Humanities at Animas High School and coaching mountain biking for the Animas and Durango High School teams.
Bridget Stowers - Main Office
Bridget grew up in Connecticut and even though she has lived most of her adult life in Colorado, she still considers herself to be a true Yankee. She attended the University of Massachusetts for two years after high school. While taking a gap year to ski and work in Aspen, she decided to pursue her Geology degree in Colorado. She graduated from Fort Lewis College with a B.S. degree in Geology and worked for Merrion Oil and Gas in Farmington, NM, as a geologist and then for AMACO (BP), in their Environmental and Safety department. She returned to Fort Lewis to obtain her teaching certification in the early 90’s. She received her certification in K-5, and completed course work for a middle school endorsement. Bridget met her husband at the top of Ray’s Ridge at the T-8 duty station, where he was working on the ski patrol and she was volunteering for Adaptive Sports. They have three amazing sons. The two older boys are alumni of AHS and the youngest is a member of the class of 2019.
Britt Blasdell - Art Department
Britt was raised on a lake in Ohio, with a wonderful childhood full of outdoor fun and art surrounding her. She graduated from East Carolina University with a double major in Art Education and Painting, as well as two minors in Fine Art and Drawing. At ECU, she was the captain of the Snowboarding Team, where they traveled all over the country to compete. This really set Britt’s dream into motion to move out west, so she followed her brother to Durango, where she would be inspired by the mountains to become a well known, professional artist in town. Before Animas High School, Britt taught at Durango Nature Studies, The Liberty School, Durango Montessori, was a substitute teacher for 9-R, as well as several art classes around town.
When she is not in her studio alongside her cat, Dexter, Britt partakes in anything that is fun! Yoga, snowboarding, mountain biking, running, paddle boarding, dirt -biking and camping are some of her favorite hobbies.
Carlin Nielsen - Inclusion Department
Since her days growing up outside Chicago, Carlin has explored the different ways people operate and thrive. After concentrating in sociology and creative writing at Hamilton College in upstate New York, she found her calling while teaching English in the Peace Corps. Her first Master’s degree is in Multicultural Special Education from CU-Boulder, and she holds teaching licenses in Special Education, ESL, and Gifted & Talented education. In 2016-17, she earned an additional Master’s in Educational Leadership from High Tech High School’s Residency Program where she focused on the inclusion of neurodiverse students. Following the year at HTH, she is passionate about bringing more inclusive programming for students in Durango.
Christine Imming - Director of Finance
Christine moved to Durango to attend Fort Lewis College and then went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Accounting from Regis University. She has a strong passion for non-profits and organizations that lend themselves to the growth and improvement of community members and a need to make a meaningful difference with her work. She is excited to be a part of the AHS team. Christine has lived in Durango for more than twenty years and is grateful to raise her family in such a community oriented place alongside the magnificent Animas river. She enjoys beach vacations, reading great fiction, running, and spending time with her family and dog Stella.
Dave Farkas - Mathematics Department
An adventurer at heart, traveling the world and going places seldom seen is what drives me. Whether I’m sitting in the seat of a kayak, in a harness on a big wall, or in my classroom working with my students, my love of exploration and project based learning is only surpassed by the love I have for my 2 boys.
Most days you can find me at school pushing students to learn about the world around them. If I’m not in my classroom, I’m probably in an eddy somewhere paddling a beautiful stretch of river with my mates. Capturing those moments with my camera makes it come alive later.
Registrar & IT Director
Dusty Grannis - Registrar & IT Director
Dusty grew up in Chicago, IL and surrounding area. Upon moving to Durango, CO in 2001 he commenced his studies at Fort Lewis College and graduated with a BA in humanities. Dusty also took classes at San Juan Basin Technical College where he received IT certification. His passion for technology has landed him as the IT specialist and coordinator at AHS. Other interest includes sustainability, mountain biking, snowboarding, performing music, and travel.
Erin Skyles - School Counselor
Erin moved to Durango from Santa Fe, NM in order to attend Fort Lewis College in 1999. She immediately fell in love with the community and never left! Erin received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from FLC and later attended the University of Denver in order to obtain her Masters of Social Work. Erin has worked with high-risk teens, foster youth and foster parents, low-income families and with children, teens and adults as a therapist. She has volunteered with/for LGBTQ rights and resources, with survivors of domestic violence and with the local Salvation Army. She is incredibly passionate about her work and is ecstatic to join the Animas High School community. She is married with 2 kids (Ezra and Alynna) and loves to mountain bike, snowboard, raft, read and spend time with friends and family.
Etoile Hening - Health Consultant
Etoile grew up in Atlanta, GA and attended The University of Georgia where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in English. Wanting to combine her passion for helping others with her interests in health, wellness, and medicine she chose to pursue a career in nursing. Etoile attended The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1995. It was during nursing school that Etoile discovered the joys of mountain biking. Following graduation she vowed to visit all of the best locations for mountain biking between Maryland and California in search of a favorite to call home. This is how she happened to find Durango. Etoile was instantly in love with Durango, but knew it was necessary to get established with her career prior to relocating. She began her career as an Oncology nurse in southern California and patiently awaited an opening in Durango. Etoile moved to Durango in 1997 and continued her career as an oncology nurse. She worked in the field of oncology for a total of 13 years. Etoile was hired by Mountain Middle School in the fall of 2012 to design and build their health department. Etoile has been working to establish a strong health department at AHS since January of 2014. Etoile enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years and their children. She loves to mountain bike, travel, camp, hike, and ski. Etoile enjoys supporting her daughters numerous activities. She is a Suzuki violin mom and spends countless hours assisting her two daughters during violin and piano lessons and practices at home. She also enjoys supporting her daughters in their pursuits of ski racing and soccer.
Heather Prekup - Inclusion Department
Heather moved to Durango in 2013 from Keller, Texas. The move here was made after she and her family decided Durango was their dream place to live, work, and raise children. She is ecstatic to be living on a beautiful piece of property in Hermosa with her husband, son, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, grandmother, and parents. Heather and Joseph had their first baby, Chamberlain Dean, in November 2013. Heather graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Bachelors of Science in Child Development, and from there she went on to receive her teaching certificate from Texas Teachers Alternative Teaching Program. She holds licenses in Early Childhood Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education. Heather’s career in Special Education began in 2010 in a Keller, TX intermediate school as a Special Education Paraprofessional. It was in this position that Heather found a passion for working with exceptional students. She has worked with a variety students of all ages and disabilities and has grown to love this field more and more over the years. Heather began working as the Special Education Teacher at Animas High School in 2013, and is responsible for managing and implementing IEP’ s, 504 Plans, and ALP’s for our Inclusion Department. When not at AHS you can find her working in her garden, cooking, or enjoying locally grown and prepared artisan foods at various restaurants around town with her husband and son.
Janae Hunderman - Career Counselor
As a graduate of both Durango High School and Fort Lewis College, Janae is a Durango local. She earned her BA in 2003 and a Masters in Education from Adam’s State in 2011. She began working in education in 2004, first as a bilingual aide and soon after as a Spanish teacher. She enjoys meeting new people and trying new things and as the Internship Coordinator for Animas High, Janae supports students to explore their own passions and loves connecting them with professionals near and far to dig deeper into their interests. Animas students are better prepared for the “real world” when given such real world opportunities! When Janae isn’t introducing people to each other, she enjoys running, mountain biking, backpacking, telly skiing, music and dancing, reading, and wandering the country in her van.
Julian Springer - Mathematics Department
Growing up in Nepal in the late 90s, Julian attended the British School of Kathmandu and Lincoln School of Nepal. In 2002, Julian’s family moved to China where he attended and graduated from the International School of Beijing. In 2011, Julian graduated from Colorado College with a BA in Geology and a minor in Physics. In college he strove to combine his passion for math and science with his love of the outdoors, which is where he learned to see math and the physical sciences as a way to not only understand the natural world, but to deepen our appreciation of its beauty and splendor. He endeavors to use this viewpoint to help inspire curiosity and passion for STEM in his students.
Seeking any means to help better the world, he spends his summers as a bike and raft guide in Utah (as a Company Leader for Holiday Expeditions) and Colorado ( as a Trip Leader for Four Corners Whitewater) where he can promote environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation to his guests. He first found his calling as an educator coaching for the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team, and began his journey as a teacher through the Fort Lewis College Master of Arts in Education program in 2018. As a teacher, his greatest aspiration is to be a progressive educator and designer, leave his students enlightened, and make a positive impact on our world. Julian believes that a strong education is the most powerful gift you can give to a child. Having found his own greatest joy in learning, he hopes to pass the desire to be a lifelong student on to his pupils, for whom he cares passionately.
When not in the classroom, Julian can be found reading, enjoying music, or outside with his wife, Callie, and their daughter, Lumi.
Jessica (Adams) Morrison - Director of College Counseling
In 2004 Jessica graduated from Bloomsburg University with a B.S. in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies. She is also an alumni of Semester at Sea which allowed her to travel by ship around the world and apply classroom knowledge to the countries she visited. Originally born and raised in New Jersey, she has traveled and lived throughout the United States and internationally. Her previous career experiences have a common theme of focus on equitable education; however, she has pursued this passion through many different employment opportunities. Some of these opportunities have included being an AmeriCorps NCC volunteer, teaching philosophy in Honduras, leading prevention programs for youth with a small nonprofit, and fulfilling the role as an academic advisor for TRiO Talent Search at Fort Lewis College. Furthermore, in the summers she directs college preparation programs throughout the United States for Summerfuel a college preparation company based out of New York. Jessica has made Durango, CO her home and is committed to helping build a strong community around education. In 2015 she graduated from Fort Lewis College’s first graduate school cohort with an M.A. in Education for Teacher Leadership. Additionally, Jessica is a Leadership La Plata graduate with the Class of 2019. When Jessica is not working on cracking the college system and assisting students with their next steps in their life journey, she can be found traveling to new places, skiing, backpacking, canning, gardening and hiking with her husband, Casey and their dog Diego.
Jessica McCallum - Humanities Department
Jessica started her education at Michigan State University, studying Political Theory and Spanish until she moved to Colorado in 1998 when the call of the mountains got too loud to ignore. After several years of travel and writing bilingual poetry, she found herself living in Durango, ready to return to school to pursue her passion for language and writing. On the advice of a professor, she looked into the education gig and discovered a new passion: sharing her effervescent love of language with young people. She graduated from Fort Lewis in 2005, ready to pursue that passion. After student teaching at DHS, she accepted a job in Costa Rica, which turned into many interesting teaching positions with students of all ages. In those years, she also met her husband, a Costa Rican native, and gave birth to a beautiful bilingual son. She returned to the U.S. with her familia in 2009 after four years of exploratory teaching in the jungle. At Animas, she has found a niche as an educator and remains inspired by the progressive pedagogy she is able to realize.
Kat Jackson - Foreign Language Department
Kat has taught languages and culture to students from ages five to 75 throughout her teaching career. Being immersed in other cultures is one of her great passions and she has has been spreading the multilingual word since graduating from Fort Lewis with a degree in Spanish and Bilingual Education in 1996.
Kat completed her final semester of college at a University in Seville, Spain and also spent eight months in Ecuador enhancing her command of Spanish. In 1998, Kat moved to San Francisco to begin her teaching career, completing a certificate for Teaching English as a second language. It was there she met her Aussie husband Charlie and they spent seven months travelling throughout Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil before moving to Melbourne, Australia In 2004. Kat continued her training as a teacher, earning a postgraduate diploma in education from Monash University. Kat taught English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) at Monash for seven years, working with students from Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
After 10 years in Melbourne, Kat is thrilled to be back in Durango with her family. Until joining Animas High School, Kat taught Spanish at Needham Elementary and Animas Valley Elementary. Kat and her husband love cooking Asian, Indian and Mexican food and she is happy to be back camping, hiking, doing yoga and trail running in the Rockies.
Kurt Pattison - Science Department
Kurt Pattison is originally from Denver Colorado and quickly found himself pulled towards Durango by the fantastic stories of adventure told by his twin brother during holiday. He enjoys getting his hands dirty which inspired an associate’s degree in automotive mechanics and a love for restoration. He studied Architectural Engineering at CU Boulder, earned a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from Fort Lewis before diving deep into the world of outdoor adventure and travel. After living in Hawaii for two years Durango called again. Settling with the freedom of a backpack, the speed of the bicycle and the challenge of Rock Climbing Durango became his home. He has lived and worked as a farmer, dairy farmer, carpenter, writer, mechanic and cook. Experience with Durango Nature Studies inspired a love of education and led him to complete studies at Fort Lewis for a certificate in Secondary Sciences. Kurt is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of Animas High School and to explore the benefits of project based learning. There is always so much to learn!
Kyle Edmondson - Mathematics Department
Kyle was born in Santa Barbara and attended college in Los Angeles at Occidental College. He began teaching in a traditional school in LA, but left after two years to work at a progressive charter school in Woody Creek Colorado. This experience formed the foundation of his educational philosophy, and e has stayed with progressive schools ever since. Most recently, Kyle taught at High Tech High Chula Vista before coming to Animas. Kyle was drawn to Animas by the combination of an ideal philosophy and a chance to get back into the mountains of Colorado. He brings his wife, two children, and two dogs with him. Kyle is enjoys hiking and climbing, and generally exploring the outdoors.
Libby Cowles - Assistant Head of School
Participating in an Outward Bound course in the summer after her first year at Brown University convinced Libby that her future path would be in the field of education, finding ways to strengthen teaching and learning through relevant, experiential activities that bring curriculum to life. She graduated from Brown in 1990 with a degree in English and American Literature and her 7-12th grade teaching license, and completed her Ed.M. at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1994, where she interned with the Harvard Outward Bound Project and co-founded the Service-Learning and Experiential Educators’ Collaboration (SEEC).
Libby has been at AHS since 2012, when she was the LINK Internship Coordinator. She stepped into the Assistant Head of School position in 2013.
Before moving to Durango in 2005, Libby spent 9 years at the Athenian School, a progressive independent school for grades 6-12 in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she taught literature classes, coordinated the service-learning program, traveled with students to India, Mexico and Canada, and served as the Dean of Faculty at the Upper School. Libby has also developed and delivered hands-on curriculum through her work with Educators for Social Responsibility, the Close Up Foundation and Longacre Expeditions. As the Community Relations Manager for Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Libby worked with local authors, coordinated events, honed her marketing and PR skills, and relished being surrounded by books and the people who love them. Libby’s sons Finn and Charlie attend Animas High School.
Lori Fisher - Humanities Department
In 2001, Lori received her BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Despite many predictions that she would never land a job with that degree, she went on to work as a fundraiser and lobbyist for YouthBuild USA, a national non-profit focusing on low-income housing development and vocational education for high school dropouts. After quitting that job to move to Thailand and become a divemaster, Lori eventually left her tropical paradise to return to the US, and completed her MA in Education at Stanford University. Lori’s first teaching job was for High Tech High, and she instantly recognized the incredible teaching and learning potential of the project-based model of education. She is incredibly proud of the success of Animas High School, and loves living in Durango with her husband John, her daughter Ava, and her two fat cats. Lori loves cooking authentic Thai food, reading science fiction, and immersing herself in any water available.
Roxy McKnight - Art Department
Roxy was born and farm raised from Whitehouse, Ohio. Literally a one horse town. She decided to move to Colorado after many summers of vacationing with her aunt and uncle (Durango residents). She began her journey westward the summer of 2003, a few months after high school graduation. You could say she heard the West calling her name. She then spent 5 yrs., studying Art, Education, and Adolescent Psychology.
Sara Price - Humanities Department
Sara Price, a Washington D.C. native, moved to Durango in high school. Since that time she has developed a deep sense of community and connection to this beautiful town of Durango. She received her undergraduate degrees from Fort Lewis College in History and Sociology. Sara has found herself in a variety of positions since graduating in 2004. While doing her thesis for sociology Sara found that she was passionate about at-risk teens and the struggles that they face in the modern world. This lead Sara to Open Sky, where she worked with clinicians empowering youth to find success in life. It was through her work with troubled youth that Sara discovered the impact education has on our youth. At this time she returned to Fort Lewis College and received her post-baccalaureate education license in secondary social studies. Sara’s return to school coincided with the opening of Animas High, where Sara felt she could take her understanding of teenage issues and combine them with her alternative education experiences to create real change in education.
Stephen Sellers - Humanities Department
Stephen Sellers is an instructor, educational design thinker, and musician who lives in Durango, CO. He and his wife, Amanda, moved to Durango in 2007 from Texas.
Stephen holds a BA in English Literature and Language with an emphasis in linguistic studies from Texas Tech University. As a post-baccalaureate student at Fort Lewis, he earned a Colorado Secondary English Education teaching license. He was awarded the Linda K. Simmons Student Student-Teacher Award while under the mentorship of founding Animas High School Teacher, Lori Fisher.
Stephen is also a proud member of the Colorado Education Initiative’s Space Lab Design Network, an invitation-only, statewide group of educational stakeholders who through Human-Centered Design seek to shift how educational systems function and users operate by encouraging them to be more flexible, student-centered, and responsive.”
Alongside Education and Design Thinking, Stephen is also deeply interested in the research and performance of music. He performs with Colorado’s Six Dollar String Band, “a musical group that researches, interprets and disseminates old time music with fiddle, banjo, and guitar” throughout the United States. He also hosts a weekly radio show on KDUR dedicated to Soul, Disco, and House music from around the world.
Steve Smith - Science Department
Steve attended Iowa State University and graduated with Honors while earning a BS in Physics, a minor in Philosophy and Teaching Endorsements in Chemistry and Physics. As the culmination of his teacher training at ISU Steve student taught on the South Island of New Zealand. While at ISU Steve was actively involved with the Mountaineering and Climbing Club and the Outdoor Recreation Program which cultivated the passions that compelled him to leave the plains of the Midwest in favor of the vast expanses of Southwest Colorado. Since 2006 he has taught science and math in several Western Colorado communities. He and his wife have been in Durango since 2009 and consider it their home. Steve completed a Master of Science in Astronomy in 2014 from the Swinburne University of Technology.
Steve is thrilled to be working as the Chemistry and Astronomy teacher for Animas High School. He finds great joy in sharing his curiosity and passion for learning about our world through the lens of science with his students. He loves learning alongside them and believes Animas’ project-based model allows students to find relevancy in their work, think more deeply about ideas and to create more holistic understandings of science and society. When not in the classroom, reading or planning for class Steve is likely to be found spending time with his family or enjoying the pursuits that first drew him west including rock climbing, mountain biking and Nordic skiing.
Susy Raleigh - Foreign Language Department
Susy came from California to Colorado 20 years ago because she and her husband were touring mountain towns with colleges, and their car broke down on the corner of 25th and Main. After moving here, she spent those early years in Durango as a tour guide, traveling to Europe and South America leading biking and hiking trips. This was her opportunity to use her French degree and to improve her Spanish in a real world situation, but the arrival of her first child ended her tour guiding career. After a few years at home with kids, she started teaching foreign language in Durango area schools including Children’s House, Miller Middle School, and Durango High School. Corresponding with a national trend to study Spanish, Susy and her family took a year to study abroad in Spain and Mexico, and she returned to Durango and eventually found Animas High School, where she’s happy to be back in the classroom helping Durango youth start on their path toward becoming multi-lingual.
Tina Hott - Science Department
Tina was born and raised in the outdoors of Southwest Colorado and has a deep love for the mystery of the mountains. Her perfect day includes riding her mountain bike, snowboarding, or hiking in the high country. She loves her profession as a high school Science Teacher and life-long adventurer. Tina’s high school years were spent attending Montrose High School and racing Bicycle Motocross (BMX). She spent one and a half years on the Front Range of Colorado attending both Colorado State University then University of Northern Colorado. The rest of her college career was finished up at Fort Lewis College, studying Biology for Secondary Education and racing bikes for the FLC Cycling Team. She competed at several collegiate cycling national races and placed 12th in Women’s National Collegiate BMX. Tina likes to approach life with an open mind as well as a positive spin. Dogs are her favorite adventure buddies but she appreciates all animals large and small. Tina’s grandparents are her biggest heroes and she hopes to read as many books as they have.
Torrey Baldwin - Mathematics Department
Torrey has spent her professional life straddling the worlds of education and counseling. She is passionate about the role of social-emotional learning in schools, and supporting students to balance exploring dual sides of themselves and the world: both the firm logic and the beauty of mathematical study; sound evidence and explosive creativity; the useful and the fascinating; embracing concrete frameworks and challenging the status quo; enormous ideas and fine details; evidence-based research and personal and relational inquiry.
Torrey studied psychology and mathematics at Williams College (‘04) while spending her summers with at-risk youth at a therapeutic summer camp in New Hampshire. Recognizing the integral role of schools in young adult development, she earned her Masters in Teaching through Simmons College while working as a 9th grade math teacher at City on a Hill Charter School in Boston. She left that role after a few years with the intention of learning how to address the more holistic needs of her students, which has led to various trainings and work with institutions such as NOLS, Kripalu, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, The School of Lost Borders, and Camphill Village.
Torrey came to Durango in 2009 to work as a guide for Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, and feels grateful to call this area home. In 2014 she co-founded and then worked as the director of Wildbridge Institute for Experiential Learning, which brings holistic and experiential practices to a broad school-based population. She taught in the inclusion department at Animas in 2015-2016, and has worked here as a full-time teacher since 2018. Fully immersed in the AHS nest, she is delighted to have circled back to the world of progressive high school education. Torrey spends her free time running, reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time in nature with her husband and two sons, Kestrel and Amias.