*click on profile pictures to read a short bio about each member
Andrew Lloyd - Mathematics Department
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.
Christine Imming - Director of Finance and Human Resources
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.
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 in education 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, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, and Gifted & Talented education. In 2016-17, she earned an additional Master’s in Educational Leadership from High Tech High’s Residency Program 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.
Cameron Elder - Humanities Department
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 BA 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 MA 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, she spends her time reading, painting, and taking full advantage of the Colorado outdoors. Cameron is incredibly excited to be teaching Humanities at Animas High School. She 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.
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.
Drew Semel - Art Department
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. He’s also been a passionate community member and has been involved with AHS for years as an early supporter of the LINK internship program. Drew is thrilled to be stepping into the Digital Arts teaching role at Animas High School and 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.
Erin Cummins-Roper - Director of Career and College Counseling
We are thrilled to welcome Erin to Animas and know that her vast expertise will serve our students well as they explore postsecondary options.
“I am very excited about this next step! My ‘why’ is all about helping others become the best version of themselves and one of the ways I get to do that is guiding students through the college process.”
Erin grew up in Bayfield. 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.
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.
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.
Jenny McKenzie - Foreign Language Department
Jenny graduated from Southwestern University in 2004 with a BA 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, followed by non-profit work supporting local families in crisis. In 2011, she felt a calling to return to work with adolescents, and thus began her teaching career by enrolling in Western State 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 2 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.
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.
John Grotenhuis - Mathematics Department
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.
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 - Community Outreach
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.
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 ’21 and Charlie ’23 are both Ospreys, too.
Lori Fisher - Humanities Department
Lori Fisher 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 BA 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 non-project that focused on low-income housing development and vocational training for students who dropped out of high school. Then she switched gears completely, and moved to Thailand to become a divemaster. Finally, Lori returned to the US to complete her MA 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 Animas High School.
Madi Neukirch - Science Department
Marie Kehm is the Work-Based Learning Coordinator for the Business Education Connection and point person for coordinating internships for AHS students . Marie is passionate about our next generation of talent and enjoys career coaching, providing unique experiences for our youth, and engaging business professionals in the process. She has been involved with career development for La Plata County Employment First and at Fort Lewis College as a Career Engagement Specialist & Internship Coordinator. Planning events, building business relationships, giving presentations, and providing an encouraging and supportive environment to students are parts of her job that she loves. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching her youngest daughter play softball, and providing her oldest daughter with dinner recipes. With her husband, she enjoys hiking in Utah, and completing segments of the Colorado Trail.
Maureen Truax - Mathematics Department
Mike Bienkowski - Science Department
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.
Art Department (long-term substitute)
Sharon Hampton - Art Department (long-term substitute)
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.
Tory Dille - Humanities Department
Tory’s path towards education began when she moved to the Vail Valley after college for a fellowship program with an environmental education nonprofit. Since then, she has spent a number of years teaching both in and out of the classroom for organizations across the Rockies. After relocating to southwestern Montana in 2016, Tory had the opportunity to become a founding faculty member for the Bozeman Field School, serve as the Outreach Manager for the Montana Wilderness School, coordinate and lead multi-day backpacking and mountaineering trips, teach yoga, support ecological research and build community around a shared love of wild places. During this time she also served as the Development and Communications Manager for the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center where she took a special interest in community-based wildlife coexistence initiatives in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Tory’s favorite ways to get to know a place are through climbing, backpacking and conversations over coffee.
Jesse Ogle - Music Teacher
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.
Joy Kilpatrick - Theater Teacher
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 ‘Kling On’ in Star Trek: Voyager. Those who are Curb Your Enthusiasm fans will also have seen Joy in that Golden Globe Awardwinning 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.