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Our team

 

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Abby Alley | Mentor

photo (4)My name is Abby Alley and I am from Ogden, Utah. I love to travel, see movies, explore and play with friends and family!

I attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a BA in History with a secondary education certification. I studied abroad in London, England where I met my husband, Addison Alley. I spent two years teaching World and Utah History to 6th and 7th graders in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. While there, I participated in the accreditation process as well as the creation of curriculum for the World and Utah History programs. In late 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first child, Alice, into the family. We moved to Washington D.C. in the summer of 2013 so Addison could attend medical school at George Washington University. We currently live in Arlington, Virginia. I am super excited to be a part of the Williamsburg team!

Laura Baker | Leadership Coach

Photo 2014I first learned that I love to teach when I began teaching Taekwondo at the age of 15. I haven’t stopped teaching since. It doesn’t matter if I am teaching Martial Arts, music, fitness, cooking, typing, or photography; I love the process of guiding an individual as they learn until they know how to teach and guide themselves. If I become obsolete, I have done my job right! My favorite part of teaching is having the privilege to observe the “Aha!” moment that comes when everything finally clicks in a student’s mind.
As I child, I loved reading, and I still do! I would read any chance I got because I treasured the opportunity to explore different countries, different times, and different realities through the eyes of another person. When it came time to go to High School, I attended Williamsburg Academy, and I understand what it means to be a “burger” (I also know where the original llama came from)! On top of teaching and reading, I also love hiking and exploring in nature, jumping in rain puddles, watching black and white movies, and climbing trees. Bonus fact: As a kid, I had two pet skunks!

Matthew Beesley | Mentor

photo1For as long as I can remember, I have loved the world of education. I was greatly encouraged by a teacher in 4th grade, Ms. Jackson, who pushed me to stretch ever further in developing my math skills. Her love and devotion for me as a student rubbed off, and I have wanted to be in education ever since. Nothing is more exciting for me than to explore new things with students and see their eyes light up with understanding and a spark of new passion. I held on to the encouragement she always provided in stretching ourselves in new ways, and I decided to pursue a greater education in music. I studied Organ Performance at Brigham Young University, developing a different passion and finding great pleasure in reaching for the stars. Working at Williamsburg has been a wonderful opportunity to continue to grow and to pass on the excitement that Ms. Jackson shared with me so many years ago.

I grew up in San Diego, the youngest of six children, to a mother from Germany and a father from Utah. I loved the diversity of San Diego, and I developed a love for interacting with people from all different backgrounds. This love was enhanced when I lived in Colorado for 2 years, and now I just can’t get enough of new people! My goal every day is to see life and the world from the perspective of someone new, and it remains a great adventure!

Katie Chandler | Mentor

kchandlerI grew up in Charleston, South Carolina where the grass stays green year-round without watering it, which is a little different from the Western United States. After graduating high school in South Carolina, I flew across the country to Utah to study at Brigham Young University. I am currently a student at BYU, and I will graduate next year with a BS in Mathematics Education. I love the “a-ha” moments that come from figuring out a math problem, but math is not always easy. I think that we all experience struggles with learning math, even those who seem to excel at it. Math teaches you to pick yourself up and try again. That’s something I’ve learned from doing mathematics and something I hope my students can learn also: To never give up and try again! Some of my other passions include dance, music, art, playing guitar, singing, playing sports, and being outdoors. I love hiking in Utah, the scenery is breath-taking, and I hope to hike Mt. Timpanogos by the end of summer. That’s just a little about me, and I look forward to meeting all of you! I am very excited to be a part of the team here at Williamsburg!

Jackie de Laveaga | Mentor

bio_Jackie-de-LaveagaWords, words, words. They follow me everywhere . . . and I love it. When I was eleven, my family moved into a home just four blocks from the public library. We could have lived in a refrigerator box, and I would not have cared because I spent all of my waking hours at the library. Not much has changed, but I don’t live in a refrigerator box now, either. Instead, I stockpile books around the house. I’ve had the privilege to carve a life path that has kept me buried in books, kids, and education. I earned a BA from Prescott College with multiple areas of emphasis: English, Writing for Publication, and Secondary Education. Soon after, I began teaching college writing courses, while simultaneously editing and publishing a magazine. Over the years, I have mentored thousands of students (from primary school to college) in writing, literature, and drama. I prefer to teach a formulaic style of writing first, because it takes the mystery out of creating articulate written communication. While students master the science of writing, I begin to invite them into the art of writing as well. Working with Williamsburg students has been a delight. They are positive, excited to learn, driven, and self-reliant—every mentor’s dream. To my fellow bookies—some of my favorite authors are Roald Dahl, Alan Paton, Charles Dickens, Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, and Alexis de Tocqueville.

My husband and I have always shared a passion for exciting, engaging, eccentric education, and this drove us to home-educate our own five children. We live in Prescott, Arizona. We have been mostly eclectic in our choices, which makes for a fabulous (yet chaotic) educational journey. My children have benefitted from Williamsburg’s courses as part of their homeschool curriculum. With our oldest nearly out of college, and our youngest turning three soon, I can assuredly say that immersing myself in fabulous education is a calling I love to perpetuate. Some favorite pastimes: hiking, sitting around campfires, book clubs, live theater, going to the beach, traveling, and two-hour family dinners with lots of loud talking and laughing.

Emily Duncan | Leadership Coach

eduncanI have always had a great passion for music. When I turned 5, my parents put me in a local children’s chorus and then in middle school, I started learning to play the french horn. I decided that singing was where I wanted to focus, so I began my studies in vocal performance at college, learning as much as I could about art song and opera. As I began teaching, I realized I loved helping others reach their musical goals. Many teachers I had pushed me, supported me, and truly believed in me. I want to be that for someone else.

My husband is a fellow opera lover, so we love to sing together, although we sing more songs from “Frozen” than any opera right now because of our two beautiful and sassy daughters. I love spending time with them — going on walks, checking out the local library, and finding new ice cream shops to sample. We currently live in beautiful Montana, so I’m learning to be an outdoors person by going on lots of hikes and planning camping trips.

Liz Franklin | Mentor

Liz BioMy passions in life are family, the great outdoors, and making connections with students. I was born and raised in the outskirts of Philadelphia. My parents were determined to instill an appreciation for nature in me and my two older brothers by exposing us to numerous vacations of hiking, sailing, river swimming and mountain climbing. I guess some of that nature loving stuck, as I attended Humboldt State University–the home of the redwood forest–and received a bachelor’s degree in Botany. In college I took a particular interest in mycology, the study of mushrooms. After earning my undergraduate degree and working as an enologist in central California, I returned to Philadelphia to be closer to my family and complete a master’s degree in Education. It was there I not only accomplished my two greatest creations, my daughter Rae and son Vincent, but also fell in love with teaching.

As a mentor, I get great satisfaction learning how students think and in turn teaching them to critically assess the world as scientists. My approach to teaching and learning reflects my beliefs, as it focuses on instilling in students the skills needed to be life-long learners. As students analyze, evaluate, and engage in critical thinking and problem solving, they become better prepared to understand and solve complex problems in real life situations. In addition, I hope to instill an appreciation of the natural world to those I mentor.

Last summer my husband Wil and I relocated our family back to Northern California. Here we enjoy going to the beach, hiking in the redwood forest, and mushroom hunting with our kids and “Wolf-a-mute” Chewbacca. I am an avid runner, snowboarder, apiarist and cancer survivor. I love to read (especially books by Annie Dillard), needlepoint, and practice yoga. I believe each day is a gift and should be lived to its fullest.

Andrew Greenman | Leadership Coach

Image for WebsiteWho am I? I am someone who loves to learn. Education is a life long journey, and I believe that it’s an uphill one. It’s an elevating, enlightening, and empowering adventure. Because it is difficult at times, we need inspiring people to look up to in our lives. I feel blessed to have those role models.

I was public schooled for the majority of my childhood. After my ninth grade in high school, I discovered a new online high school. It was called Williamsburg Academy. Remember the elevating, enlightening, and empowering thing I mentioned earlier? I found this at Williamsburg Academy. I graduated in 2011, and am now thoroughly excited to be part of this great team.

I’m from Burley Idaho, surrounded by great outdoor opportunities. Mountain biking is one of my greatest outdoor passions. I’m a backpacker. I grew up backpacking in the high Uintas and the Sawtooths.

I love to connect with people. When I was in Mozambique Africa for two years, I learned on a deeper level why it is important to connect with people.
Someday soon I will to go back to Africa and help the people there. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

This brings me back to my love of learning. I really believe that education changes the individual, the family, the community, and ultimately the world. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

Lauren Hancock | Leadership Coach

laurenhancockI grew up Las Vegas, Nevada and moved to Provo, UT after I graduated from high school, where I earned a BA in Economics with a minor in English. I took breaks from school at BYU to study at Cambridge University in the UK, on a field study in South Africa, and at the BYU Jerusalem Center, and then spent a year and a half as a missionary in Malaysia and Singapore.

Six years ago, when I first moved to BYU, I met a great guy named Braden Hancock, and then promptly forgot all about him for the next three and a half years. Luckily, I met him again at a party where I was on a date with somebody else. A month later, I left the country for 18 months, but fortunately, he didn’t forget about me, and now we’re married!

I love reading, writing, traveling, hiking and backpacking, learning languages, and eating Asian food. I also really, really love to learn, and I believe that all learning is inherently valuable—I’m a better person for having studied calculus and Shakespeare, whether or not they are a part of my career.

I’m very excited to begin my first year as a part of the Williamsburg team!

N Peter Jensen | Co-Founder

I grew up studying the Liberal Arts, and later earned an MBA at Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas. After business school I wanted to combine my passion for Socratic learning, educational entrepreneurship, and the outdoors. This led to my work as co-founder of Williamsburg Academy Online High School, and Elevation Outdoors. My own education during the intermediate years lacked a positive learning community, with interesting projects and excellent mentors. Williamsburg Intermediate provides students with the kind of education that I desperately needed at that age. My goal is always to provide the best possible education for my children, and yours. My other interests include cycling, backpacking, climbing, reading, and building Lego creations with my boys.

Peter A. Jensen | Mentor

Pete A Jensen

I grew up in rural farm country in Riverside Utah. I come from a family of nine brothers and one sister. After school I spent two years in London, England. I then attended Utah State University, ultimately receiving my degree in Political Science. While at school I met and married my wife Tammy. After graduation, I received my commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and proceeded to spend six years on active duty. While serving I have had the opportunity to deploy three times, twice to Iraq and once to the former Yugoslavia. After leaving active duty, I ran a private school in Northern Utah for two years. I currently live in St. George, Utah and have three girls aged eleven, eight and six. I still do reserve work for the military, spend lots of time reading and studying, but mostly love being with my family.

Alec Johnson | Leadership Coach

ajohnsonYou could probably best describe me by calling me a philosopher, but many people think of philosophers as old men with bushy mustaches who sit in armchairs and rehash 2,000-year-old debates that are too complicated for anyone to figure out and too abstract for anyone to care. I’m not like that. As I see it, a good philosopher is someone who can see through ordinary assumptions and illusions to see the world as it really is, and it turns out that the world is a wonderful and beautiful place. I love discovery. I love nature. I love laughing. I love understanding people. I love teaching. And it’s all because I really believe that if you can just see and understand the world, you realize how great and how exciting it is. That’s what I mean when I call myself a philosopher.

I live in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, where I recently graduated from Southern Virginia University with majors in philosophy and politics and a minor in business management and leadership. I spend my spare time reading or studying, and exploring the world by making new friends and getting out into nature. I also enjoy creative writing, web design, and Rubik’s cubing.

Liz Kirk | Co-Founder & Assistant Director

When I was in middle school, I longed for my summer break all year. Summertime meant exciting projects, true friends, great books and real choices. Williamsburg Intermediate is a place where the summertime ideals from my childhood are alive all year round! In the years since those summer days, I have been working to help students receive a quality education. I studied English Literature in my undergraduate program, and earned a master’s degree in Education a few years later. I also taught at a charter school, mentored adults in the classics and ran a colloquium group for over 5 years. In my last job I helped run a corporate/government educational program where I helped 600+ staff members expand their business education. Working in Washington DC gave me the chance to watch political issues from my agency land in the newspaper, on television and on the floor of Congress. In the last 10 years I’ve also enjoyed learning through travel. I’ve explored China’s political history and Italy’s magnificent artistic history while in those countries. These experiences have helped prepare me for the rich discussions we’ll be having in the classroom, as well as the exciting journey we’ll be taking together this year! I’m so excited to be working with the exceptional students at Williamsburg Intermediate!

Sydney Maucotel | Mentor

WI personal photoI never want to stop learning. As a child I loved going to school, not only for the social reasons, but for the chance to learn. I often longed for more class options and bigger question-based projects and I always wanted to read more books. In 7th grade I read To Kill a Mockingbird and felt like my mind had exploded. I was fascinated with literature’s ability to present new ideas, create unique situations, explore perspectives, and develop characters that influenced my own life. I knew early on that a happy life for me would be teaching other students to love learning. I followed that dream by studying English teaching in my undergraduate at Brigham Young University, studying British literature in Scotland and England on a study abroad, and experiencing public education as a 7th and 8th grade English teacher. New to Williamsburg Intermediate, I enjoy pushing the boundaries of a “standard” education by diving into great literature and discussing real-life leadership lessons. When not teaching, I love road biking, road-tripping with my husband, exploring museums here in D.C.,  trying new recipes, and visiting the library.

Dan McCann | Leadership Coach

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I grew up in a small town, Bigfork, MT. I have always loved the outdoors and have been teaching others how to enjoy the outdoors since I was 12 yrs old. I was a mountain bike guide for 3 years. I lived in Hawaii for 2 years serving a LDS mission and learning different cultures there. I went to college at Southern Utah University, where I continued my guiding talents at the Outdoor Center teaching canyoneering, rock climbing, and the enjoyment of the outdoors. Also, as I was there, I was the co-creator for the Freshman Outdoor Orientation.

I’m married and have two boys, and there is never a dull moment in my life. I currently live in Southern Utah where I also teach and direct teenagers in a Residential Treatment Center. I love movies, gummy candy, and I love talking/teaching anything about Leadership.

Allison Merrell | Mentor

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I grew up in a house full of the love of learning. My mom kept the encyclopedias, dictionary, and world globe next to the dinner table so whenever a question arose, we were prepared. My favorite activity was spinning the globe, putting my finger down, and looking up the country that it landed on. Later in life, I lived in some of those countries like Japan, Israel, and Jordan. I earned a degree in Middle East Studies/Arabic and have studied Japanese in professional institutions, but my favorite way of learning about the world is being in it, seeing it, and getting to know the people in it. I’m also passionate about cooking, reading, cycling, and my newly-started family. I love working with the students at Williamsburg Intermediate and learning with them along the way in their educational journey.

Will Miller | Mentor

Will_WilliamsburgFitness and education are two of my passions in life. I am very fortunate to be able to live out these passions in a variety of ways. In addition to mentoring at Williamsburg Academy, I teach at a middle school where I mentor in healthful living and coach many of my amazing students in volleyball and track. I hold a BA in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MA in Instructional Technology from North Carolina State University. I enjoy sharing my expertise in Physical Education and Instructional Technology to mentor students and enable them to make healthy living a lifestyle. I strongly believe that students need to experience a healthy lifestyle rather than merely reading about it–that’s why I do what I do.

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my wife, Emily, and our beloved dog, Sadie. Emily and I enjoy living in NC, close to both of our families, and our favorite vacation is relaxing on a beach, anywhere. When I am not teaching/mentoring or hanging out with my wife, you will find me training. Running is my primary athletic pursuit, but I am developing a growing interest in triathlons. My favorite races to compete in are the half marathon and the full marathon. I also enjoy playing guitar, serving at my church, water sports, volleyball, and hanging out with Emily.

Erin Reynolds Mwanje | Co-Founder & Director 

I was raised in the Rockies. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around spending time in the desert biking, building sage-brush forts, and digging hide-outs. I dreamed of being part of a school where projects like these were tied to real-life skills entailing academic rigor, where friends and I could talk about what we’d learned, challenge ourselves, and grow together. Years later, when my experiences teaching in a traditional classroom left that long-ago dream hollow, I entered Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in pursuit of a second master’s degree. There I studied project-based learning, neuroscience and education. I returned again and again to the question, “What about online ed?” My work at Williamsburg Intermediate is a fruit of my youthful dreams and many years teaching and asking, “How can I make education more effective, more rigorous, and more fun for more kids?” I hope you’ll join me in this adventure!  When not teaching, I love spending time with my amazing husband Dan hiking, camping, traveling, reading, cooking or listening to music.

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Lucas Reynolds | Mentor

Besides teaching, I have many other passions. I love running with my wife, backpacking, and playing with little kids. I also get a lot of satisfaction from taking apart machines and seeing if I can fix them. Oh yeah, and I also really enjoy making homemade Argentine food, where I lived for two years. I believe in living life to its fullest and in finding someone to help every day. In 2013 I graduated summa cum laude with a BA from Southern Virginia University in Politics and a minor in Spanish. My wife and best friend, Catherine, and I currently have one child, a new baby, but plan on someday having enough kids to warrant a large kitchen table. We currently live in Buena Vista, Virginia.

David Rees | Mentor

DaveI have been tutoring math and science for over six years and have been a student of science my entire life. I love explosions, unpredictable chemical reactions, figuring out why stuff does what it does, and eating hot slices of Hawaiian-style pizza. My greatest award in science was being voted “most likely to be a mad scientist” by my classmates at Carbon High. I’m close to finishing a BS degree from Southern Utah University in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, with an emphasis in classical scientific thought. My wife, children and I live in Cedar City, Utah. My background in computer technology helps me find fun and unique ways to make math and science come alive in Williamsburg’s online courses.

Heather Simkins | Mentor

IMG_1230I grew up on a farm in small town Utah and loved spending all day playing outside with my sisters and brothers. We knew how to play hard and learned how to work hard too. My school classes were small and comfortable, but my education lacked the same kind of hands-on stimulation that I gained from being outdoors and learning about the natural world through experience. Williamsburg Intermediate would have been the perfect answer to the curiosity I felt at this age! I later ended up spending several summers as a hiking and camping guide at a boy scout ranch–one of the most formative experiences of my life. I loved teaching youth in this setting and developed an even deeper love and appreciation for the natural world! I went on to graduate with a degree from Brigham Young University in Recreation Management and Youth leadership and then several years later with a masters degree in Education. I was drawn to Williamsburg because of its project-based curriculum and inspiring classroom settings–it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced. When not in the classroom, I can probably be found in my garden! I’m really excited about sustainability and was recently certified in Permaculture Design. I love natural health, good food, good music, and hiking in the desert with my nieces and nephews.

Glen Stilson | Mentor

GlenStilsonBeing inside makes me crazy, so I spend every possible minute outside. I grew up in areas where things like fences and boundaries just didn’t exist, so my spirit is a bit rowdy. Hiking, hunting, fishing, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking – as long as it’s outside, I enjoy doing it! I live in Arizona, where the outdoor environments range from low cacti-filled desert to high altitude snow capped mountains, which makes this one of the best states to live in. I have a wonderful family who also loves the outdoors, and they are a wild bunch. My kids help to keep me young and excited about life, and my wife is my compass – she keeps me pointed in the right direction, in every aspect of life. My family is the source of my energy and the joy I have in life.

If you’ve been to Elevation, you probably know me as “Sarge.” I’m the founder and head instructor of Independence Training and Chief Skull Crusher at Elevation Outdoors. At Independence Training, we supply instruction in firearms, emergency medical, and survival to military and law-enforcement personnel, as well as to everyday citizens. I started this business a few years ago, after discharge from the US Army. Our company ethos is Confidence, Self-Reliance, and American Spirit––and we follow these ethics in everything we do. Through this experience, I have gleaned a repertoire of amazing, true survival stories, helpful tricks for remembering how to respond in emergencies, and practical suggestions that cut out the academic garble and get right to the crux of emergency response.

I also founded an outdoor mastery program for youth because I love spending time with students, helping them increase their love of the outdoors and increase their confidence to powerfully respond to all of life’s challenges.

Corey Strange | Mentor

Corey I know what you’re probably thinking: “What a ‘strange’ name this guy has!” You’re right, and you know what? Our family crest doesn’t say “Strange” for nothing.

I cannot tell you how deeply I LOVE ART (in all its many forms). I’ve learned that art, like any good education, can provide us with amazing experiences that can dramatically change how we see ourselves and choose to live our lives.

Cool back-story blurb: I grew up in the corn fields of Iowa then the concrete jungles of L.A.. There I learned to play rock ‘n roll drums and make bad art. My band even got our song played on the radio all over So Cal. My art is better than it used to be, and I’ve had the privilege of attending art schools in Scotland, New York City and Rome. I love traveling and sharing experiences with amazing people like yourself. Absolutely nothing in the world makes me happier than being with my wonderful wife and our awesome little girl.

James Ure | Co-Founder

When I was thirteen, I began home schooling. I raised animals, built stuff, destroyed stuff, and explored the desert on my dirt bike. I also read and wrote quite a bit. I worked hard, but didn’t have a good system for measuring my progress. I missed studying with friends and yearned to work on fun projects with others my age. Since that time, I have helped create Williamsburg Academy and Elevation Outdoors. Williamsburg and Elevation nurture the kind of learning my parents and I yearned for when I was thirteen. I have gone on to graduate from BYU in English and to study constitutional law at South Texas College of Law. If my parents and I had had an organization like Williamsburg on our team, I would have been better prepared! Now I have three children of my own whom my wife and I hope can benefit from these exciting resources. Williamsburg and Elevation fill up my life with meaning because I love learning, teaching, and exploring. My hobbies include rock climbing, running and taking pictures. I also love watching movies with my sweetheart, Angela, and telling stories to my three children.

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