Meet Our Faculty & Staff
- Ben Pettit, Head of School
- Kevin Campbell, Upper School Head
- Patrick Graham, Outdoor Program Director
- Becca Hemingway, Director of Development
- Sam Herrick, Middle School Head
- Jonna Mendes, Sun Valley Ski Academy Program Director
- Katie Robins, Admissions Director
- Janet Salvoni, Elementary School Head
- Julie Siegel, Chief Financial Officer/Business Office Manager
- Ryan Waterfield, Director of Communications
Ben Pettit was appointed Head of School in 2015 and has more than 20 years' experience in education as a teacher, advisor, coach, counselor, and administrator. He joined Sun Valley Community School in 2009 as Middle School Head, and, prior to assuming his current role, also served as Assistant Head of School and Upper School Head.
In his role as Head of School, Ben is continually inspired by the way the school’s faculty, staff, Board of Directors, students, and parents deliver on the school’s mission. “I am deeply impressed by the passion and dedication displayed by everyone—past, present, and future—who has worked and continues to work to deliver on the promise of the school. I wholeheartedly believe in our philosophy, which combines a vigorous and experiential educational model, with abundant opportunities in the outdoors, arts, athletics, and service learning,” he says. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be of service to our community and to help inspire our students to be their best, authentic selves.”
Prior to joining Community School, Ben spent 11 years at St. Anne’s Episcopal School in Denver, Colorado, where he served as a middle school math teacher, Math Department Chair, and as a soccer coach.
Before transitioning from teaching into leadership roles, Ben worked at McClelland School in Pueblo, Colorado and held counseling positions at Littleton High School, where he was also Varsity Boys’ Head Soccer Coach, and at East Elementary School in Denver, Colorado.
Ben holds a BA in English, with a minor in psychology, from University of Denver and a MA in Applied Psychology and Counselor Education (Cum Laude) from the School of Counseling at University of Northern Colorado.
Kevin Campbell joined Sun Valley Community School as Upper School Head in July, 2018.
Kevin comes to Community School from Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School in Santa Cruz, California, where he has served as Dean of Students, history teacher, and safety officer since 2013. Prior, he taught and served as a security committee team member at Mount Madonna School in Mount Madonna, California. Kevin holds a BA in political science from University of California, Davis, and a MA in teaching from University of San Francisco.
Reflections from students and faculty following Kevin’s visit to our school describe an educator and leader with a thoughtful, intelligent approach that led to easy connections with both faculty and students. His genuine interest in the ideas and experiences of others, deep appreciation for outdoor education, understanding of equity and inclusion issues, and values that align with the mission and vision of our community were all evident in his interactions during the search process and in his time on campus.
Kevin and his wife, Thecla, have two children, Freya (4) and Lowen (1).
Patrick Graham joined Sun Valley Community School in 2015 as Outdoor Program Assistant Director and was appointed Outdoor Program Director in 2017. Patrick holds a degree in outdoor education from Vermont’s Johnson State College and, prior to joining the Cutthroat team, worked as a ski guide for Sun Valley Trekking and later as a Lead Guide and Licensed (Level II) Backcountry Ski Guide. He also trained with the American Mountain Guides Association in both climbing and skiing.
Becca Hemingway joined Sun Valley Community School in 2012 as Development Director. Prior to assuming her role at the school, Becca worked in finance and public relations at Mirage Resorts, Inc., assisted with various freelance writing and analysis projects, and served on the Boards of several Wood River Valley nonprofits. Her favorite volunteer fundraising effort as a Board member was Battle of the Blades, an event she created and co-chaired that paired local "celebrities" with professional figure skaters in a Dancing-with-the-Stars-style skate-off.
A graduate of Yale University, Becca earned a BA in history. She has two daughters, Emma '17, a recent Community School graduate, and Alex '19, a rising Sun Valley Community School senior. When she's not in the Development Office, Becca can be found hiking her favorite mountain trails, using the power of the Internet to learn how to repair things that need fixing, and traveling with her family.
Sam Herrick joined Sun Valley Community School after spending a dozen years working at schools in California. He was Dean of Student Life at the Live Oak School in San Francisco and served on the Board of Trustees for the East Bay School for Boys, helping to usher the school from its inception to a thriving and unique middle school dedicated to boys’ learning.
Prior to his work at Live Oak, Sam was Middle School Admission Director and Dean of Students at Prospect Sierra School, located in El Cerrito, California. During his four years there, Sam increased the enrollment of mission-supportive students, including the expansion of students through the collaboration with a local enrichment program. Sam also chaired the diversity committee, coached volleyball, and started an annual bike-to-school event. Sam spent his first years in California teaching Life Sciences and environmental stewardship at an experiential education program just outside Yosemite National Park.
Sam holds a BA from Syracuse University and a MA from Columbia University.
Sam believes in middle school students. He finds them capable, thoughtful, creative, energetic, and funny. He moved to the Wood River Valley with his wife Elizabeth, son, August, and daughter, Grayson. He loves to hike, bike, and ski with his heels free.
Jonna Mendes joined Sun Valley Community School in 2006 as the director of the Sun Valley Ski Academy. Jonna has an impressive background as an athlete and coach. A two-time Olympian—at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games—Jonna was also a four-time National Champion (twice in downhill, twice in giant slalom) and earned a bronze medal in super-G at the 2003 Alpine World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Following her 2006 retirement from the U.S. Ski Team, Jonna honed her coaching skills as a U.S. Ski Team development coach from 2006-10, working with athletes at national and regional projects and competitions.
In addition to her role as SVSA Program Director, Jonna coaches the U16s with Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Jonna’s unique perspective and experience as an elite athlete and coach is an asset to the development of our SVSA student-athletes. In her free time, Jonna loves chasing her son, Declan, down the mountain and camping with Declan and her husband, Will.
Katie Robins joined Sun Valley Community School in 2000 and has served as Director of Admissions since 2005. Katie loves touring the campus with prospective families and learning their stories. "There is nothing more satisfying than watching that aha-moment a family has when they see this campus in action and begin to envision their own children as members of this incredibly engaging and nurturing environment," she says. "I love guiding families through this process and helping future Cutthroats find their new home."
Katie holds a BA in Communications from University of California, Berkeley. She and her husband, Guy, are parents to two Cutthroats: Sam '30 and Sophie '32. In her spare time, Katie loves to cook for friends and family, rock climb, and is an avid reader of fiction.
Janet Salvoni joined Sun Valley 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.
Julie Siegel joined Sun Valley Community School in 2016 as Chief Financial Officer and Business Office Manger. Prior to assuming her role at the school, Julie served as CFO for Boston-based Geologic Resource Partners; she has also held accounting and human resource positions and was a Certified Public Accountant for Lallman, Feltman, and Perterson CPAs.
A graduate of University of Virginia, Julie holds a BS in commerce-accounting. She and her husband, Neil, are parents to Emily '16 and Riley. When she's not in the Business Office, Julie can be found trail running on local trails and teaching indoor cycling classes.
Ryan Waterfield joined Sun Valley Community School as Director of Communications in 2018. Ryan was a member of the Cutthroat faculty for 15 years before leaving in 2011 to work in publishing. During her time as a faculty member, Ryan taught Upper School English and was the English Department Head for three years. She coached the girls’ basketball team and was the Director of the Senior Project Program. In 2014, Ryan cofounded BigLife Magazine and has served as its publisher and editor for more than four years. Ryan earned a BA in English from Transylvania University and studied and taught in the Czech Republic as a Fulbright Scholar. Ryan holds an MA from the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English.
Ryan understands the trends and changes taking place in communications and marketing through her entrepreneurial leadership at BigLife Magazine and also has a deep appreciation for the school and its history. In her role, Ryan communicates the school’s unique program and culture with Cutthroats past and present, on a local, national, and international scale.
Ryan and her husband, Greg Van Der Meulen '98, have two children, Townes and Zula.
There is a joy in both teaching and learning here that is really our intangible. Teachers come to school excited to teach and kids actually come to school excited to learn.Calysta Phillips, Middle School Language Faculty