Early Childhood Center Faculty
Lisa Dirksmeier joined Sun Valley Community School in 2010.
Lisa has more than a decade of experience working with young children, nurturing and challenging both their minds and hearts. She has a passion for capturing the joy and wonder of early childhood discovery and deeply believes that early childhood is a unique and meaningful stage of life. She is committed to supporting the creative capacity of children and engaging them in rich experiences driven by their individual interests. Throughout the learning process she puts the utmost emphasis on ensuring positive, authentic relationships with each of her students.
Lisa and her husband, Brian, are parents to two Cutthroats: Huck '21 and Ridge '21. As a family, they enjoy many recreational activities together, especially weekend outings, with their pop-up camper and red canoe in tow.
Suzanne McCarthy, a Boston native, has been teaching pre-school for 20 years and has been an assistant in the ECC 1 class (formerly Toddler Class) since 2010.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to work in early childhood education and to have children in my life on a daily basis," Suzanne says. "I learn from them every day!”
Prior to teaching at Sun Valley Community School, Suzanne co-operated a multicultural non-profit preschool in Boulder, Colorado for ten years, was a site observer for the Boulder Valley School District, and helped to launch a bilingual pre-school within University Hill Elementary School in Boulder.
Suzanne and her partner, Jimmy, live in Ketchum with their dog, Abby. In her spare time, Suzanne loves to hike, bike, swim, travel, and watch Jimmy perform acoustic guitar in the Wood River Valley.
Nichole Moos joined Sun Valley Community School in 2013 and is an ECC teacher in the Primary Class.
Nichole received her BA in Early Childhood Studies from Boise State University and her MA in Early Childhood Education from West Virginia University. She is a National Board Certified Early Childhood Generalist and has studied the Reggio Emilia approach in Italy.
Nichole lives in Ketchum with her husband, Aaron, and their son, Eamon, where the family loves to spend time adventuring with their adopted senior dog Macy.
Katharine Weekes is a teacher in the ECC and the ECC Department Chair. She joined Sun Valley Community School in 1994, drawn to the school's culture and traditions, the dynamic Outdoor Program, and the Reggio-inspired early childhood center. Katharine is continually inspired in her role by students who feel secure enough to take risks and challenge themselves. "I love watching students evolve and come into their own," she says. "To see a shy and tentative child blossom and find their voice is so powerful."
In the ECC, Katharine says, "We foster close relationships with our families and create a classroom environment that feels safe and nurturing, thus allowing our students push themselves out of their comfort zone, to grow and learn."
When she's not teaching, Katharine loves to ski with her family (husband Jack, Sun Valley Community School class of '85, son John '20, and daughter Lucy '25 and hike with the family's black lab, Minnow.
Amanda Bauman joined Sun Valley Community School in 2016 and is currently a teaching assistant in the ECC 3 class.
Amanda has worked with children in a variety of settings, from teaching skiing in Montana at the Lost Trail Ski School to working as a nanny locally for two years prior to joining Community School.
Amanda has a bachelors degree in healthcare management and business administration from Colorado State University, a bachelors degree in human biology and an associate's degree in science from AB Technical College.
Amanda is a wild land firefighter, a fly-fishing guide for Silver Creek Outfitters, and loves to mountain bike, bake, and garden. She enjoys teaching ECC 3 students and helping foster their growth and development.
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.
Megan Mahoney joined Sun Valley 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.
Riley Mott is an ECC assistant and art teacher in the primary room. A former fifth-grade teacher at Hailey Elementary School, Riley brings both experience and a passion for teaching to the classroom. Riley knows Sun Valley Community School well: in addition to attending Community School through eighth grade, she served as a regular substitute teacher and after care program specialist before she took on her current role in the ECC. Riley holds a BA in sociology and elementary education from Whitman College. She and her husband, Tim, have two sons, both students at the school: Jasper '20 and Koa '23.
Bob Polk joined Sun Valley 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 the Cutthroat 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.
The ECC is a place where we foster trusting partnerships with our families. If you ask our parents, they will tell you that we truly know their children. Our program offers an unique environment where children are inspired to play and explore. When kids feel nurtured, they will take risks, learn and grow. Whether building with recycled materials, writing a collaborative class book, or snowshoeing around our campus, our students are engaged and intrinsically motivated. Most importantly, we like to have fun!
Katharine Weekes, ECC 3 Class Faculty and Current Parent