Elementary School Faculty

Meet the Elementary School Faculty and Staff

Elementary School Head

Janet Salvoni joined Community School in 2005 and was appointed Elementary School Head in 2011. Janet has extensive experience in the classroom, having taught pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades; she has also served as a Learning Specialist and as Early Childhood Coordinator. Currently, in addition to her role as Elementary School Head, she serves as Teacher Training Academy (TTA) Coordinator and Diversity and Inclusivity Committee Co-Chair.


Janet holds a BA in elementary education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an MA in education from Cambridge College.

In her daily work with students, parents, and colleagues at Community School, Janet is continually inspired by the passion of the school's faculty. "They believe 100 percent in the work they are doing, both with students and behind the scenes," she says.

Janet and her husband, Frank, are parents of two Cutthroats: Tyler '23 and Cooper '27. When she's not at school or spending time with her family, Janet spends time on the ice pursuing her passion for ice hockey.

Kindergarten

Suzanne Buchanan joined Community School in 2009 as an Early Childhood Center teacher and has been teaching kindergarten since 2015. Prior to arriving in the Wood River Valley, Suzanne taught pre-school and kindergarten in schools in Arizona, Virginia, and Texas.

Suzanne earned a BS in elementary education from Gonzaga University and, since joining Community School, has attended Reggio Emilia-inspired workshops through the Opal School in Portland, Oregon, the Journey School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Lesley University in Boston.

Suzanne loves the educational philosophy that guides Community School's educational philosophy and by the school's faculty: "We honor and empower the whole child," Suzanne says. "I am constantly inspired by everyone who works here—the knowledge, experiences, and passions of our faculty are amazing; all of us truly love teaching and have meaningful relationships with our students."

Suzanne and her husband, Patrick, have three children, all of whom are Cutthroats: Braden '22, Elise '24, and Will '26. When she's not teaching, Suzanne loves to spend time family biking, hiking, and digging in the garden.

Teaching Assistant: Cindy Hulbert

Cindy Hulbert joined Community School in 1988 and currently serves as a teaching assistant in kindergarten and as a learning specialist assistant specializing in reading intervention.

In her many years at Community School, Cindy has served as teaching assistant across grade levels. She is continually inspired by the school's philosophy of self-discovery teaching and by the opportunity to instill in students a life-long love of learning.

"At the end of the year of teaching reading intervention, the most rewarding experience I have had is when my students leave my classroom with the love of reading and confidence to be a life-long reader," she says.

When Cindy is not teaching, she enjoys all types of outdoor recreation and spending time in her garden.

Grade 1

Hannah Young joined Community School in 2010 and currently teaches first grade.

Hannah earned a BA at New York University and a MAT at Lewis and Clark College.

Drawn to the progressive, hands-on learning community and standard-setting outdoor program Community School, Hannah appreciates the sense of community and commitment to learning she encounters every day as a teacher here and loves to share time outdoors with her class. "My love and respect for the outdoors is evident any time I venture outside with my students, and my wish is for them is to push beyond their comfort zone and try new things, as that's when meaningful learning often takes place."

When Hannah isn't teaching—in her classroom or in the outdoors—she loves to adventure with her husband, Sam, a Community School alum, and her daughter, Theo, a student in the ECC.

Grade 2

Tricia St. George is a Community School graduate (Class of 1995) and returned in 2012 to teach second grade after having spent over ten years teaching a variety of elementary grade levels.

She holds a BA in communications from Western Washington University and a MA from City University in Seattle.

Tricia loves spending her days with seven and eight-year-old people. "Second graders are amazing and very capable," she says. "One of the aspects of our Elementary School program I love is that from early on children learn to be assertive and problem solve on their own; we are simply here as their guides. From this they have a strong sense of self and are confident little people."

When Tricia is not at school, you will find her with her family. She and her husband, Tony, are parents to two Cutthroats: Charlie '26 and Stella '29.

Teaching Assistant: Dawn Webber

Dawn Webber joined Community School in 2010 and is currently a teaching assistant in second grade.

Dawn holds a BA from University of Arizona and a MEd from Ohio State University.

Dawn appreciates the close student-teacher relationships that develop at Community School, as well as the outdoor program, traditions, and family atmosphere that are hallmarks of the school. She is inspired by her students every day: "Hearing the students’ perspectives, questions, and ideas on a daily basis is a privilege—and, of course, their sense of humor is priceless," she says. "Having a fantastic group of colleagues is quite a perk as well."

Dawn and her husband, Brian, are parents to Keegan '18.

Grade 3

Gretchen Thoreen joined Community School in 2007 as kindergarten teacher and currently teaches third grade.

She holds a BA in communications from Washington State University, a Teaching Certificate from Central Washington University, and a MS in education with a specialty in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University.

For Gretchen, observing transformational moments in a child's educational journey—and specifically in their growth as writers— is continually inspiring: "Each year at some point, there comes a point when kids feel that excitement and passion to write—when they truly realize they are authors. It is very special to watch kids passionately feel what they have learned and worked so hard to do."

When Gretchen steps away from school, she can be found on the hiking or skiing trails with her two dogs and spending time with friends.

Teaching Assistant: Heather Town

Heather Town joined Community School in 2007 and currently serves as a teaching assistant in third grade.

Heather received a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Western Governor's University.

Among the things she loves about teaching at Community School is the school's commitment to providing faculty and staff ongoing training and educational opportunities. "I appreciate all the professional development opportunities offered to teachers," she says.

When she's not teaching, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and cooking.

Grade 4

Trent Herbst joined Community School in 2006 after teaching elementary grades in Wisconsin and at international schools in Argentina, Dominican Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

Trent holds a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin.

Trent’s hobbies and interests take him around the country and around the world when he's not teaching. He and his family—wife Candida and daughters Kali and Kire— regularly embark on adventures that see them climbing, camping, cycling (Trent once cycled completely across the U.S. in search of the best donut), and skiing.

Perhaps his most unique passion: Trent has competed eight times in the Iditarod sled dog race.

Teaching Assistant: Stacey Ward

Stacey Ward joined Community School in 1994. She currently teaches elementary P.E. and is a teaching assistant in fourth grade.

Stacey holds a BS in education from University of Wyoming.

Stacey was drawn to Community School by the wide variety of programming the school offers students. She is inspired every day by the children she teaches, and says, "I strive to create a fun, inclusive, and safe environment for all my students."

When Stacey isn't teaching, you can find her on the ski hill or pursuing other outdoor adventures.

Stacey has two children: Taylor, who graduated from Community School in 2008, and Latner.

Grade 5

Dana Covington joined Community School as fifth grade teacher in 2016. Prior to her current role, Dana taught fourth and fifth grades at schools in Boulder, Colorado and taught Spanish, fourth grade, and eighth grade math and science at Community School between 2000-07.

She received her BA in communications and business from University of California, Los Angeles and a MEd from University of Colorado, Boulder.

Dana loves teaching at Community School, where she has the opportunity to connect deeply with her students. "I thoroughly enjoy finding what makes a child tick and making the school experience as meaningful as possible for each student," she says.

When she's not teaching, Dana can be found embracing her love for her family and for the outdoors. She and her husband, Eric, and son, Caleb, make the most of the outdoor opportunities throughout the Valley—hiking, biking, and exploring.

Language

Nicole Kearney joined Community School in 2013 and currently teaches Spanish in the Elementary School.

Nicole earned BA degrees in Spanish and Comparative Literature from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a MEd in Bilingual Education from Boise State University.

Prior to joining Community School, Nicole was a dual immersion teacher in first and second grades for Blaine County School District and worked as an ESL teacher for College of Southern Idaho. She also spent a year teaching at a primary school in Pisco Elqui, Chile.

Nicole says that she is "surrounded by an amazing group of knowledgeable educators and inquisitive students at Community School," and adds, "the educational philosophies, sense of community, and the fact that my own children are students at the school all enhance my experiences at the school."

When she’s not teaching, Nicole loves to spend time with her family, travel, read, and recreate in the outdoors.

Science

Bob Polk joined Community School in 2003, and he currently teaches science in the Elementary School.

Bob earned a degree in psychology from Washington College and a MAT in Science Education from Lewis & Clark College.

Prior to joining Community School's faculty, Bob taught at The Island Academy in Ambergris Cay, Belize.

Bob believes in supporting students' natural curiosity and enthusiasm for exploring science topics. Bob and his wife, Sarah, are parents to two Cutthroats: Siena '15 and Ellie '17.

Music

Karis Kemp brings a wealth of music education experience and a love of teaching children to her new position as ECC and Elementary School music teacher. In her role, Karis will collaborate with the Middle and Upper school Creative Arts Department team as well as facilitate various Elementary School musical productions throughout the year. In her six years in the Valley, Karis has taught music to children and adults in a variety of roles: she served as the children's librarian at The Community Library, as music educator at Ketchum's Pioneer Montessori School, and as the Director of Music at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood. Karis attended Illinois' Wheaton College, where she earned a BS in biology cum laude and a MA in educational ministries, with a concentration in wilderness planning. Karis and her husband, Randy, have two children.

Art

Cara Frost joined Community School in 2011 and currently teaches kindergarten through eighth grade art, serves as a seventh grade advisor, leads the Art Club, and coaches Middle School volleyball.

Cara attended San Jose State on a Division 1 volleyball scholarship and went on to earn a BFA in Art and Art Education at the University of Arizona.

Prior to joining Community School, Cara taught sixth through twelfth grade in Tucson, Arizona, where she also coached varsity volleyball.

Cara appreciates "the freedom to question the process and the trust encouraged by the administration, the faculty, and the students" at Community School, and, she says, "I love to watch the students and their passions grow. Mark making, storytelling, imagination, and innovation are all expressed within their creations, in their voice. It is beyond powerful."

When Cara is not teaching, she finds inspiration for her own art in the outdoors, her dogs, and books.

Performing Arts

Megan Mahoney joined Community School in 2017 and currently teaches Middle School music and Elementary School performing arts.

She holds a BA in theatre management from University of Massachusetts and a training certificate in musical theatre from CAP21 Conservatory in New York City.

A professional singer and actress, before joining Community School, Megan appeared in local, regional, and national theatre productions was involved, as a performer, choreographer, director, and teacher, in Wood River Valley productions through The Spot, St. Thomas Playhouse, and NexStage Theatre.

Physical Education

Stacey Ward joined Community School in 1994. She currently teaches elementary P.E. and is a teaching assistant in fourth grade.

Stacey holds a BS in education from University of Wyoming.

Stacey was drawn to Community School by the wide variety of programming the school offers students. She is inspired every day by the children she teaches. "I strive to create a fun, inclusive, and safe environment for all my students every day," Stacey says.

When she isn't teaching, you can find Stacey on the ski hill or pursuing other outdoor adventures. Stacey has two children: Taylor, who graduated from Community School in 2008, and Latner.

Learning Specialists

Reading Intervention Specialist: Cindy Hulbert

Cindy Hulbert joined Community School in 1988 and currently serves as a teaching assistant in kindergarten and as a learning specialist assistant specializing in reading intervention.

In her many years at Community School, Cindy has served as teaching assistant across grade levels. She is continually inspired by the school's philosophy of self-discovery teaching and by the opportunity to instill in students a life-long love of learning.

"At the end of the year of teaching reading intervention, the most rewarding experience I have had is when my students leave my classroom with the love of reading and confidence to be a life-long reader," she says.

When Cindy is not teaching, she enjoys all types of outdoor recreation, spending time with here family, and gardening.

Jill Perkins, Learning Specialist Department Director

Jill Perkins joined Community School in 1989 and currently serves as Learning Specialist Department Director.

Jill holds a BS in education from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

Prior to her current position at Community School, Jill taught in schools in Wisconsin for five years.

At Community School, Jill finds inspiration in the students and in her colleagues. "The students inspire me every day with their perseverance through a challenging curriculum, their spontaneity, and their joy," she says, "and my colleagues inspire me to seek continued growth as an educator—and make me laugh when a laugh is needed."

For Jill, time away from school is dedicated to her family. "My biggest passion is to love life with my husband, Don, and my daughter, Hope. They are my world beyond school, and time with them means everything to me," she says. She also enjoys listening to audio books, hiking local trails with her husband and her shelter dog, Cosmos, and spending time in her garden.

Jill and Don's daughter, Hope, is a 2016 graduate of Community School.

Sarah Thompson, Learning Specialist

Sarah Thompson joined the Cutthroat community last winter as a part-time learning specialist in the Elementary School. Most recently, Sarah worked in Massachusetts, where she served as a language tutor at the Carroll School in Waltham and a reading specialist intern in the Cambridge Public Schools. Before that, she taught fifth grade at Ross Elementary School in Ross, California ran her own private tutoring business for students in grades 2-8, and established a summer writing camp. Sarah holds a BA, summa cum laude, in elementary education and Spanish from Boston College Lynch School of Education and an EdM in language and literacy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Sarah and her husband, Aaron, have three sons

Community School's philosophy resonates with my teaching philosophy and my own personal philosophy. When I first visited Community School, I knew immediately that this place was different. It is a special place for students and families—a place where the whole child is honored and empowered.

Suzanne Buchanan, Kindergarten Faculty