In 2020, Ande received his B.S. in Mathematics with a Secondary License in Education from Western Colorado University. Growing up in Durango instilled a deep passion for the outdoors in Ande, and he loves spending his time rock climbing and back-country skiing. During his time in college, he worked as a climbing guide and volunteered with Search and Rescue for Black Canyon National Park. Ande graduated from Animas High School in 2015, and became passionate about project based learning as a student. He completed his student teaching at Animas, and is excited to be a part of the faculty!
[email protected] | Digital Portfolio | Math Department Website
Dean of Experiential Education
A passionate and progressive educator with over fifteen years of curriculum and program design experience, Ashley seeks to help youth develop a strong sense of self worth and belonging through mentorship, outdoor adventure, connection to wild places and authentic leadership opportunities.
Ashley received her B.A. in English and Education from Dartmouth College, after which she worked for the International Rescue Committee, coached soccer and alpine ski racing, and started a project-based learning school-within-a-school in Basalt, Colorado. After earning her Master’s in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at Stanford University in 2011, Ashley moved to Durango to teach Humanities at Animas High School. She has since developed a deep sense of place and community rooted in the jagged ridgelines and steep scree fields of the San Juan Mountains, the silt-laden waters of the San Juan River, the yawning labyrinth of canyons of the Colorado Plateau, the intrepid urban deer, skittish alpine coyotes, and big-hearted Durangotang bipeds. Ashley’s work as an educator, coach, and mentor has been enriched by her connection to the human and natural worlds in and around the San Juan Mountains. She aims to share her respect for these communities with her students, while also helping them to develop a sense of place and belonging that encourages environmental stewardship and community resilience. Ashley is the co-founder of San Juan Mountain SOLES, an outdoor leadership program for female-identifying high school-aged students.
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. in Geology and worked as a geologist for Merrion Oil and Gas in Farmington, New Mexico and then for AMACO (BP), in their Environmental and Safety department. She returned to Fort Lewis to obtain her teaching certification in K-5 and completed course work for a middle school endorsement in the 1990s.
Bridget met her husband at the top of Ray’s Ridge at the T-8 duty station at Purgatory, where he was working on the ski patrol and she was volunteering with Adaptive Sports Association. They have three amazing sons who graduated from Animas in 2012, 2015 and 2019.
Britt was raised on a lake in Ohio, with a childhood full of outdoor fun and art. 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 Snowboard Team and traveled all over the country to compete. This really set Britt’s dream into motion to move out west, so she followed her little brother to Durango, where she would be inspired by the mountains to adventure outside and create art.
Before AHS, Britt taught at Durango Nature Studies, The Liberty School and Durango Montessori, was a substitute teacher for Durango 9R School District, and hosted several art classes around town, all while working as a waitress in downtown Durango.
Britt partakes in anything that is fun with her daughters, Asher and Zoë and husband Ryan, however she wishes her cat, Dexter could come along on these adventures as well. Yoga, snowboarding, mountain biking, running, paddle boarding, dirt -biking and camping are some of her favorite hobbies.
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Cameron grew up right around the corner in Dolores, Colorado where she first discovered the importance of a tight-knit community and hard work. She moved away to complete her B.A. in English and Literary Arts with a focus in Education from the University of Denver. Here she found her love of teaching through opportunities to teach language abroad. To pursue this further, she moved to continue her education with an M.A. in Education from Fort Lewis College while spending time connecting back to the community and working in Dolores Middle School teaching Language Arts.
Outside of the classroom, Cameron spends her time reading, painting and taking full advantage of the Colorado outdoors. She is incredibly excited to be teaching Humanities at Animas High School. Cameron believes in the power words have and hopes to learn along with her students as they dive into some of the most powerful words in history through project-based learning.
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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 in education while teaching English in the Peace Corps. Her first Master’s degree is in Multicultural Special Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder and she holds teaching licenses in Special Education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, and Gifted & Talented education. In 2016-17, she earned an additional Master’s in Educational Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education where she focused on the inclusion of neurodiverse students. Since her year at HTH, Carlin has remained passionate about and committed to creating more inclusive programming for students in Durango.
Director of Operations
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. Christine has lived in Durango for more than twenty five years and is grateful to raise her family in such a community-oriented place alongside the magnificent Animas river. She loves the ocean, live music and is devoted to the foster kitten program at the La Plata County Humane Society where she serves on the board of directors.
When not working to maintain the financial and operational health of our school, Christine enjoys sharing her knowledge in the classroom through her Personal Finance course. Christine’s oldest son graduated from AHS in 2023 and her daughter is in the AHS class of 2025.
Dean of Students and Culture
Dave is a proud Canadian who holds a B.S. in Physics from University of British Colombia and a B.A. in Environmental Education and Leadership from Prescott College. He got his teaching license in the 1990s through Fort Lewis College, and has taught math and science in the Four Corners for over twenty years, including stints at Mountain Middle School, Miller Middle School and Bayfield High School.
An adventurer at heart, traveling the world and going places seldom seen is what drives Dave. In the summer months, Dave is proud to help share the healing power of outdoor adventure with those whose lives have been impacted by cancer through with work with First Descents. Whether he’s sitting in the seat of a kayak, in a harness on a big wall or in his classroom working with students, Dave’s love of exploration and project-based learning is only surpassed by the love he has for his two boys, who both attended AHS.
Drew grew up in a creative family in a small town outside of Chicago and was taking pictures and making home movies at a very early age. Exploring various forms of storytelling has been a lifelong passion. After receiving a B.A. from the Communications School (photography, film, design emphasis) at Ithaca College, Drew pursued a career as a photographer and filmmaker. The first stop was in New York City, then on to Florence, Italy and finally Los Angeles, where he worked in television and on movie projects in the entertainment industry. Drew has sought opportunities to teach his craft to adults and younger students throughout his career. He led multiple GlobaLearn expeditions, educating middle school students in the U.S. about children and cultures worldwide. During that time, he traveled to 80 countries, virtually taking students on expeditions.
Drew came to Durango in 2000 to enjoy all the offerings of a small mountain town and open a digital arts studio. Twenty years later, he has clients throughout the Four Corners region through his business, Illuminarts. He’s also been a passionate community member and was involved with AHS for years before joining the faculty as an early supporter of the LINK internship program. Drew is thrilled to be in the Digital Arts teaching role at Animas High School, sharing his lifelong passion for storytelling and the impacts of the visual arts. When he’s away from his studio, Drew usually spends time with his family and their two energetic doodles on the trails around Durango.
College & Career Preparation
Elliot is excited to be part of the Animas team serving in a variety of areas, including postsecondary counseling, work-based learning, and teaching hands-on courses based in the Maker Space. He arrived in Southwest Colorado in 2014 after graduating from the University of Washington with a B.S in Material Science and Engineering, having pursued a love of math, science, and tinkering from a young age. During college, he was president and training director for a non-profit ski school, which ignited an interest for teaching and encouraging others to surpass their own self-expectations. After graduation, Elliot followed this passion, leading experiential education experiences in all seasons and serving as a lead instructor for Outward Bound California. From 2019 to 2023 Elliot wore many hats at Colorado Timberline Academy including as an academic advisor, science teacher and mountain bike coach. Elliot likes to move slowly through the diverse local landscape of rivers, deserts, forests and mountains, often with harmonica or a pair of binoculars in hand; on town days he works on house projects and is very slowly learning how to play Bob Dylan songs on the guitar.
Emma is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Colorado to attend college. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Master’s in Education from Fort Lewis College with secondary certifications in language arts, science and math. She is also a certified yoga teacher and aerial acrobatics instructor.
Prior to working at Animas, Emma taught 8th grade math and science at Mountain Middle School for five years. She is passionate about project-based learning and forming meaningful connections with her students. Outside of the classroom, Emma loves rock climbing, trail running, reading, writing, drawing and spending time with her sweet pup, Chili Dog.
Dean of College & Career Preparation
Erin grew up close by, in Bayfield, Colorado. Her college journey was a bit unconventional, and after transferring institutions several times, she landed at Portland State University where she graduated with honors with a B.S. in Economics. After college, she looked for ways to make a positive impact in the lives of others. She enjoyed coaching youth soccer and volunteering with programs such as SOS Outreach. After a while she realized she was spending much of her free time volunteering with youth and sought out an opportunity to do so professionally. Erin accepted a position with Fort Lewis College’s Trio Upward Bound program in 2008 and spent the next 13 years helping low-income and first generation high school students from Durango, Ignacio and Montezuma-Cortez high schools enroll and be successful in college. She believes strongly in creating a society where all people have equitable access to postsecondary education. Erin also has a love for fitness and movement and has been a group fitness instructor for 10 years at the SunUte Community Center where she teaches weightlifting, spin, flow yoga and functional training. Erin loves spending time mountain biking, camping and wake surfing, ideally with her family and dog.
Dean of Student Wellness
Erin moved to Durango from Santa Fe, New Mexico 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 and later attended the University of Denver 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 be part of the Animas High School community. She is married with two kids, Ezra and Alynna, and loves to mountain bike, snowboard, raft, read and spend time with friends and family.
Humanities Department & Inclusion Department
Genevieve grew up in Denver where she cultivated a love for adventuring in Colorado’s mountains. She attended Colorado College and was heavily involved with the outdoor education program before graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Science and a minor in Education. In May 2018, Genevieve moved to Durango to work as a wilderness therapy guide through Open Sky, where she taught social-emotional and wilderness skills to adolescent teams in the field. She left as a senior guide to pursue a teaching career and earned her teaching license in secondary science through the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC). Genevieve completed her PEBC residency at Animas High School during the 2022/23 school year while working with 9th grade students in science and math. She is excited to continue her work with the Animas community!
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. Heather graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a B.S. 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 IEPs and 504 Plans 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 children.
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 he 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. Kyle enjoys hiking and climbing, and generally exploring the outdoors.
Humanities Department & Teacher Mentorship
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 College in 2005, ready to pursue that passion. After student teaching at Durango High School, 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 and added her daughter to the family. At Animas, she has found a niche as an educator and remains inspired by the progressive pedagogy she is able to realize.
World Language Department
Jenny graduated from Southwestern University in 2004 with a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature. Soon after, she packed up her car and headed for the mountains. During her first years in Durango, she worked with at-risk teens in wilderness therapy at Open Sky, followed by non-profit work supporting local families in crisis through the La Plata Family Center. In 2011, she felt a calling to return to work with adolescents, and thus began her teaching career by enrolling in Western Colorado University’s MA in Teacher Education and Leadership Program while concurrently teaching Secondary Spanish in Ignacio School District 11-JT. In 2015, persuaded by the passion of Animas teacher and student friends, Jenny joined the Animas team, quickly realizing that she had found her home! But, life works in mysterious ways, and after just two years with the school, love pulled her to Barcelona, Spain, where she continued to work online supporting Spanish students in the US, but also dove into language, culture and the experience of living abroad with her husband. In 2020, after an impactful three year hiatus, she was thrilled for the opportunity to return to Animas High School, but this time, with more experiences and stories to share with her students.
Raised in Minnesota, John loves the outdoors and was excited to be able to explore the mountains of Colorado while at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from which he graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering. Engineering degree in hand, John realized teaching was his path after working in the outdoor ed field. He received his Masters in Education from Denver University in 2022, where he recognized that grappling with real-world, project-based problems are the best way to learn. When he is not in the classroom, you will see John running ultra marathons, playing with his dog or exploring other outdoor activities.
Dean of Enrollment & Community Outreach
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 B.A. 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.
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 communication skills, and relished being surrounded by books and the people who love them.
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 and became Dean of Enrollment and Community Outreach in 2022. Libby’s sons Finn ’21 and Charlie ’23 are both Ospreys, too.
Mike grew up exploring the forests, rounded mountains, lakes and rocky coastlines of New England, developing a lifelong appreciation and passion for learning about nature. He graduated from Colby College in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Studies and was inspired by several of his professors there to pursue a career in education. For five years, he taught high school biology and environmental science at the Salisbury School in Connecticut and led long-distance bike tours for adolescents through Overland Summers. Since moving to Durango in 2016, he has been busy as the lead educator and curriculum writer for Durango Nature Studies and the San Juan Mountains Association. During this time, Mike had the opportunity to work with a broad cross-section of youth in Durango and the Four Corners as a whole and fostered relationships with many school communities while growing a deep knowledge of natural systems in the greater San Juan Mountains region. He is thrilled to bring what he has learned back to the dynamic learning community at Animas, and to continue serving Durango youth. When not teaching, you’ll either find him out running deep in a forest, hunched over a wildflower with a hand lens or teaching salsa dance classes.
We are grateful for our community partnership with iAM Music, a local nonprofit working to empower students through music education. Jesse, a co-founder of iAM, serves as our primary partner, and teaches our music electives alongside other talented colleagues from his organization.
Jesse’s path to full time musicianship was initially inspired by his bass studies with the late, great Joel DiBartelo of the Tonight Show in his home state of Arizona (1999-2001). He then explored various genres in bluegrass, hip-hop, Middle Eastern, jazz-funk, soul and pop groups while earning his undergraduate in Music at Oregon State University. Since graduating with a music degree, he has been working in the industry, most specifically in the genres of pop, soul, neo-soul, Jazz and funk. Jesse is very active in the Mountain West and Southwest music scenes in the U.S. as a touring musician, booking agent, manager and music educator.
Jesse has toured extensively as a bassist across the US, Canada, Mexico and Northern Europe with his co-founded group Hello Dollface. He currently leads the Modern Soul group J-Calvin with over a hundred performances and two consecutive years performing at Telluride Jazz Fest. Jesse hosts a weekly jazz jam and monthly songwriting series in the greater Durango community. He is also a freelance musician and plays guitar and bass for hire and can be seen regularly performing with Sean Farley and Space Between Shadows. When not playing music Jesse teaches music, help others, volunteer and spend time in nature.
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 B.A. 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 River Expeditions, and Colorado as a Trip Leader for 4Corners 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.
Joy earned her BFA from the University of Miami Theatre Conservatory Program where she was an Omicron Delta Kappa recipient. After graduation, she continued her acting studies with a year-long internship with the Burt Reynold’s Institute for Film & Theatre and then studied classically abroad with the acclaimed Royal National Theatre in London.
Joy has had the honor to work as a professional (Union) actress in stage, TV, and film. Her most memorable film role was playing Patrick Stewart’s daughter in the film Safe House and Madonna in the TV series B.L. Stryker. Star Trek® enthusiasts will know Joy as a guest ‘Klingon’ in Star Trek: Voyager. Those who are Curb Your Enthusiasm fans will also have seen Joy in that Golden Globe Award winning series. Joy is also a Carbonell Award winner for her role in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.
Locally, Joy has performed at the Durango Arts Center in the annual 10-Minute Play Festival, May in Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love directed by Theresa Carson and Donna in Mamma Mia with the Merely Players. Joy has recently been cast in a TV pilot, Badwater, that is being filmed locally here in Montezuma County.
Joy is passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge with young performing artists and does so locally through theatre camps at the Durango Arts Center and as a staff teacher for Durango’s 9-R Shared School and Animas High School.
World Language Department
Kat Jackson fell in love with Hispanic culture after an immersive language experience in Mexico with Fort Lewis College in 1993. This inspired her studies in Ecuador and Spain, before graduating from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Spanish and Bilingual Education. After college, Kat spent time in South America traveling and then moved to San Francisco where she met her Aussie husband. Kat received a certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language, and her teaching career began.
In 2004, Kat and her husband moved to Melbourne, Australia where she received a Graduate Diploma of Education and taught English at Monash University. After 10 years abroad, Kat’s family decided to head back to Colorado to be near her parents and the mountains. Kat taught Spanish at Needham and Animas Elementary Schools for 4 years. She then worked at Animas High School teaching Spanish for 3 years. Kat received her Masters of Education in Cultural Linguistic Diversity from Fort Lewis College in 2020. Soon after, her family returned to Australia where she taught Spanish at the Gold Coast.
Kat, her husband and daughter have strong ties with Durango and the outdoors. This beautiful community connection has brought them back, yet again. She is thrilled for another opportunity to be part of the Animas High School community and share her passion for language and culture with her students.
Lauren is a Fort Lewis College graduate with a B.A. in International Business and minors in Math and French. After a brief time teaching math in West Africa, she returned to FLC to obtain a teaching certificate in secondary math. Lauren has taught many levels of math from 6th grade through precalculus as a classroom teacher and private tutor.
“I am passionate about math education and excited to share that passion with students at Animas High School. The close relationships I am able to build with students in our small school setting is extremely important to me. I love the energy my students bring to class and like to focus on building confidence in math as well as critical thinking skills. I am committed to providing a safe and trusting classroom environment where students are able to work together, learn from mistakes and challenge themselves everyday.”
Lauren’s daughter Haley ’25 and Naomi ’23 are Ospreys, too.
Lori grew up in the small town of Homer, Alaska as a 3rd generation Alaskan, and was raised to understand the importance of having roots and developing a strong sense of community and place. She spent most of her 20s seeking the right place to grow those roots. After receiving her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies in 2001 from the University of California, Berkeley, Lori worked as a fundraiser and lobbyist for YouthBuild USA, a national nonprofit that focuses on low-income housing development and vocational training for students who have dropped out of high school. Then she switched gears completely, and moved to Thailand to become a dive master. Finally, Lori returned to the U.S. to complete her M.A. in Education at Stanford University. Lori’s first teaching job was at High Tech High in San Diego, where she fell in love with project-based learning. Eventually the mountains called, and Lori moved to Durango with her husband John to help found Animas High School. Lori now feels she has a true home in Durango, and is proud to work at AHS.
Madi grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attended college at University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she discovered her passion for the outdoors and outdoor leadership before graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. In August 2020, she moved to Pagosa Springs, Colorado to serve in AmeriCorps as a social-emotional learning advisor. During her service, she helped develop a social-emotional learning curriculum, as well as built capacity for schoolwide restorative practices. Above all, during her service she learned about the importance of building positive relationships with her students. Madi completed her Master’s in Education through Fort Lewis College, and moved from student teaching at AHS to joining our faculty. When she is not in the classroom or studying, Madi can often be found rock climbing at any one of the local crags around Durango.
Maureen’s kids Kyle and Corrine both attended AHS in the early days and are now college graduates thriving in their respective careers. Maureen served as our Main Office Manager from 2010 to 2012 and Registrar from 2012 to 2015. She has worked as an Academic Counselor and Registrar at Las Vegas Sports Academy, Andre Agassi College Preparatory School and Democracy Prep. With a wealth of institutional knowledge and professional experience, Maureen provides skilled support to our students and families.
Staff Substitute and Assistant to Director of Operations
Peter grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and developed an early love of the outdoors and a passion for history and social justice, all of which have shaped his career path. He went to Lewis & Clark College, where he studied Sociology and led multi-week backpacking and kayaking trips in the summers. After college, he worked in outdoor education, guiding and classroom teaching across the Midwest, American West, Bahamas and Chile. In his free time, he loves to explore the outdoors through backcountry skiing, whitewater canoeing, trail running, climbing and hiking with his dog Tundra. He also enjoys speaking Spanish, playing music and cooking meals for his wonderful partner.
He enjoys working with young people because he is consistently amazed by their ideas, intelligence and capacity to do immense good. He also appreciates how they push him to become a better person and how every day as a teacher is a new challenge!
Head of School
Rebecca earned her B.A. in Science Education from Northern Arizona University and held her first teaching job on the Mexican/US border in Yuma, Arizona, teaching primarily migrant students whose first language was Spanish. Through her position with the Peace Corps in Namibia, Rebecca worked with the Ministry of Education to create teacher training centers in rural communities. After obtaining her M.A. at the University of New Mexico with a focus on multicultural education, she returned to the Peace Corps in southern and eastern Africa to train teachers to effectively work in secondary classrooms as an Associate Director of Education.
Upon her return to the United States, Rebecca was hired by Colorado Mountain College to direct a family literacy project working primarily with mothers and children newly arrived from Latin America. Her most recent school administration role was as founding leader of a K-8 public charter school, Two Rivers Community School (TRCS) the first public charter school in the rural mountain community of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Its mission is to “ignite a passion for learning and high achievement through interdisciplinary experiences, multiple problem solving methods, second language acquisition and culminating work aimed at positively impacting the community and the world.” This mission, similar to that of AHS, continues to motivate Rebecca.
Rebecca is married to Terrence Shanahan. Together they have raised a wonderful daughter, Kate, who attends college at Montana State University. In her free time, Rebecca finds joy in biking, hiking, skiing and exploring the outdoors.
Riley grew up in Durango and is an alumni of Animas High School. After graduating in 2014, she went on to attend Colorado State University and study abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, where she obtained a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in History. Riley moved back to South Korea in 2019 after receiving her Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification, this time to the city of Daegu, to begin her career in English education at Daegu Wolbae Elementary School, where she taught for two years before moving on to teach at Daegu Physical Education Middle School and Daegu High School of International Studies in her third and final year. Riley’s love for travel then brought her to the United Kingdom, where she spent the summer and hopes to eventually end up for good. Until then, she’s happy living in her hometown of Durango and giving back to her former high school while ensuring that every student has an enriching and inclusive educational experience.
Sarah was born and raised in Breckenridge, Colorado, and spent her childhood in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, with minors in both History and English. After college, she moved back home to Breckenridge, where she worked in the hospitality industry for a number of years wearing many different hats, from interior design to human resources.
In 2016 Sarah and her husband Doug spent their honeymoon traveling around South Africa, and within two years had purchased a game farm there and tried to make a go as lodge owners for a bit. Upon their return to the U.S. they both decided to make radical career changes. For Sarah, teaching was something she had always felt she was going to do, and after witnessing the impact that severe poverty and a lack of access to education had on a country, her path became clear. Sarah secured a teaching position at Aztec High School while she took classes to earn her teaching license. She is thrilled to be teaching in her own community as part of the Humanities Department.
Sarah has two sons, Ryder and Bode, and spends her free time with family and friends hiking, rafting, camping, and enjoying life.
Oliver Kennedy is teaching a Comedic Performance elective while student teaching with our theater teacher, Joy Kilpatrick and digital arts teacher Drew Semel. Oliver hails from Dallas, Texas and his educational journey started in acting and film at Oklahoma City University. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he discovered his passion for teaching. He will graduate from Fort Lewis College this December with a B.A. in K-12 Theatre Education. In addition to his teaching and student teaching, Oliver is supporting students through the AHS Inclusion Department this year.
Outside of the classroom, Oliver enjoys spending weekends on the disc golf course and dedicates his evenings to theatrical rehearsals for upcoming productions. His ability to connect with students and joyful presence make him a valuable addition to our school community.
Antonio Acuna’s educational journey began in Napa, California, where they spent their formative years. Seeking to expand their horizons, Antonio made the move to Aztec, New Mexico to attend San Juan College. After earning an A.S. in Mathematics in 2021, Antonio, a first-generation college student, made a pivotal decision to transfer to Fort Lewis College, where they are working towards a B.A. in Secondary Education in Mathematics with a minor in TESOL.
Antonio’s aspirations extend beyond the traditional classroom setting. They aspire to challenge and dismantle the stigma associated with mathematics, striving to shift preconceived notions about students’ abilities in this subject. Student teaching with seasoned and talented mentor Lauren Lucky is providing a glimpse into the ways successful math instruction can coincide with educational freedom and creativity, while serving students well in an inclusive classroom community.
Originally from the Denver area, Grayson Acri is student teaching with Lori Fisher through the Public Education and Business Coalition Teacher Residency Program. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Journalism and Media Communications in 2023 and also attended Concordia University. in Montreal. His work with the Rocky Mountain Collegian covered politics, economics, and business. When he graduated, Grayson took a look at why he got into journalism–to do something creative that gave back to the community–and decided to go in a different direction after meeting a rep at the PEBC job fair. A few months later he packed up his things and ran deep into the mountains to become a Humanities teacher, where his love for storytelling could be combined with a sense of community engagement. He is a fan of literature and video games, with strong opinions on both. Despite his overall cheerful demeanor, he likes sci-fi books where the world ends such as Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, and games like The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom. He has a shameful love-hate relationship with corporate coffee, and he will agree that Dunkin’ is terrible while defending it with his last breath.
Salome Raiszadeh, who is student teaching with Julian Springer through the Public Education and Business Coalition Teacher Residency Program, was raised in Newport News, Virginia and received her B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise with a minor in Psychology from Virginia Tech. While in college, she developed an appreciation for hiking and camping in the Appalachian region. After graduating college during the start of COVID-19 pandemic, she moved to Utah to work as a wilderness therapy guide with adolescents at WinGate Wilderness Therapy and then with adult women at Juniper Canyon Recovery Center. While working in wilderness therapy, she found that she especially loved the teaching aspect of the positions she’d held. She is now studying to obtain a teaching license in secondary science through PEBC. When not studying or working, she enjoys cooking, running, painting, going on walks, reading and hiking.