March 11-26, 2023
SPRING BREAK: MARCH 11-26, 2O23
SCHOOL RESUMES MARCH 27, 2023
Tom Downey joined our Middle School faculty in August, 2019 as a 6th Grade STEM teacher. A beloved educator in the Wood River Valley, Tom was one of the founding faculty members at Pioneer Montessori, the Head of School there for two years, and their Elementary School Director for 14 years.
In the summers, Tom offered wildly popular science courses for elementary-aged children throughout the valley. Most recently, Tom has been teaching at Montessori International College in Australia. With over 20 years of experience teaching, a Masters in Education from Loyola University, and a Certificate of Distinction from the American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence for grades K-8, Tom's experience, knowledge base, and infectious passion for teaching make an indelible impact on our 6th grade Math/Science students. Students and parents beam that Tom has a way of bringing science and math to life for kids of all ages. A former student describes Tom as having “a special way of talking to students, and celebrating their learning,”
Tizz Strachan joined Community School in 2012 and currently teaches humanities and writing as a member of the Sixth Grade Team. She also coaches Middle School soccer.
Tizz holds a BA in History from Middlebury College and MA degrees in Education and History from Boise State University.
Prior to joining Community School, she taught English, History, and Government at Wood River High School.
In her role at Community School, Tizz appreciates the close relationships that develop between faculty and students at the school, as well as the focus on experiential education and the Outdoor Program. Each day when she enters the classroom or takes kids into the field, Tizz says, she is "inspired by the energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity that sixth graders bring to school each day." She loves to see kids work through challenges and earn confidence, whether academic, athletic, or in the outdoors: "My favorite experiences are when students have breakthroughs after struggling with new skills: when a new soccer player dribbles around an opponent, a reluctant climber makes it to the top of the rope, or a writer has found the perfect word to make her poem 'just right,'" Tizz says.
When she's not teaching, Tizz can often be found on local trails—running, biking, or cross country skiing—and spending time outside with her family. Tizz has three Cutthroats: Owen '20, Calvin '23, and Wyatt '25.
Kira holds a BA in Biology from Carleton College, where she was the recipient of funding from The Initiative for Service Internships in International Development. She has her teaching license from the state of Colorado in Mathematics Education (7-12), Science Education (7-12), and Spanish (K-12). She is also a Red Cross-certified Wilderness First Aid Instructor. In her free time, enjoys traveling, playing the ukulele and guitar, and playing ultimate frisbee.
Joel Vilinsky joined Sun Valley Community School in 2000, and currently teaches the humanities curriculum for seventh grade. Joel also serves as a Middle School girls volleyball coach. Joel previously directed the Middle School drama department for 20 years, and teaches Creative Writing, Play Writing, Acting, Improvisation, and Beach Volleyball. He is a past chair of the English Department. Prior to arriving at Sun Valley Community School, Joel taught for 14 years in Brooklyn, New York and Williamsburg, Virginia.
Joel holds a BS in Psychology and a BA in English from the University of Albany, an M.Ed. in secondary English education from Tufts University, and completed an Eastern Virginia Writing Fellowship at College of William and Mary.
In his work in the classroom and in the theatre, Joel appreciates his students' engagement. "They're always teaching me what I don't know, and pointing out what I didn't see," he says. He also loves to see the learning that happens when students are able to challenge themselves to step beyond their comfort zone. "Edging students from the nest, whether it be exploring new talents or taking academic risks during discussions and projects, is what's most inspiring every day," he notes.
An experienced actor, Joel appeared regularly in productions for Hailey's Company of Fools theater of which he was a founding member, before it closed in 2020 due to COVID. He enjoys reading, writing, playing volleyball, and spending time with his wife, Jeanne.
The Middle School welcomed Anthony Mauldin on August 15, 2022 as the new 8th Grade Math/Science teacher. Anthony is a team player and collaborator, outdoor enthusiast and fly-fisherman, a proponent of project-based and thematic learning, and he has taught math for ten years. He has also taught science under the Next Gen standards for the past three years.
A graduate of Northern Arizona University, his prior experience includes serving as an IELP Math and Science Teacher at Stamford American International School in Singapore. From 2016-19, he worked at the Abu Dhabi Educational Council in the United Arab Emirates where he was the Math Teacher for Ramah Primary and Secondary School, and from 2013-16, he taught honors Geometry at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona.
Naomi Goldberg joined Sun Valley Community School in 2006 and currently teaches eighth grade humanities, serves as faculty advisor to the Middle School yearbook, facilitates the middle school's DEIJ Affinity and Alliance groups.
Naomi holds a BA from Duke University in Psychology and English and a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Scranton.
With prior experience as an outdoor trip leader, Naomi was initially attracted to the school by the Outdoor Program. "I knew that any school that believed in the value of taking students into the backcountry three or four times a year would be in line with my philosophical beliefs about teaching and learning," she says. Since joining the school as a faculty member, she has consistently seen the value of outdoor experiences in building meaningful relationships that enhance learning and has also come to appreciate the team/theme model of teaching in the Middle School. The team approach, she notes, "allows us to integrate all subject areas the way that students will encounter them in the 'real world.'"
When she's not teaching, Naomi can be found enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. "I also love to read and share books with students, colleagues, and friends," she says. Naomi is the mom to two young Cutthroats and is excited that they are part of the Sun Valley Community School experience.
Nancy Parsons-Brown initially taught French at Sun Valley Community School from 1983-85; she returned to the school in 1994 as a part-time faculty member and eventually took on a full-time position. Nancy currently teaches Middle School French.
Nancy holds a BA from University of Colorado in French literature and a MA in teaching from Graceland University.
In her long tenure at Sun Valley Community School, Nancy has held many roles. In addition to teaching French in the Middle School, she is also the Co-Coordinator of the Teacher Training Academy, and Co-Coordinator of Teaching and Learning. She also served as the World Language Department Chair,
Throughout her time at the school, Nancy has been inspired by the spirit of community that characterizes the school. "The school is a big family," she says. "My colleagues are phenomenal, and the students are engaged, personable, and often hilarious."
When Nancy is not teaching, she enjoys running, skiing, hiking, playing hockey, reading and spending time with her family. She and David are parents to three Cutthroat alums: Finn ’04, Connor ’08, and Nellie ’10.
Calysta Phillips teaches Middle School Spanish and is the Service Learning and Community Connections Coordinator. Additionally, she is the founder of The Community Table/La Mesa Comunitaria, a local initiative that brings together SVCS and Wood River High School students to build bridges between people in our valley by providing meals, joy, resources, and a sense of community to those in need. Calysta joined Community School in 2012 and taught Upper School French and Spanish until 2017.
Calysta holds a BA from Harvard University and an MA in Spanish from Middlebury College.
Prior to her position at Sun Valley Community School, she taught French and Spanish and was an Outdoor Education Facilitator at Kent Denver School in Denver, Colorado. Calysta also served as Bilingual Community Outreach Coordinator for St. Luke's Health System here in the Wood River Valley.
Calysta appreciates the relationships she develops with students and with her colleagues at the school through the Outdoor Program. "I love the outdoor trips and getting to have such meaningful life experiences with my students and colleagues. I have such deeper relationships with them from having forged bonds together outside of the classroom."
When she's not teaching, Calysta is happiest in the kitchen, preparing food for friends and family. You might also find her dancing, teaching Zumba, rapping, mountain biking or cross country skiing. She and her husband, Matt, are parents to one Cutthroat: Sebastian '29.
Consuelo Reyes Torres joined the Middle School staff in the fall of 2022 as a Spanish Teaching Assistant. She holds a Masters degree in Education from the Anáhuac Private Normal School in Morelia, in the beautiful Mexican state of Michoacán. A native of Mexico, she is recognized for her great work and support in education in the United States as a licensed and certified teacher and director, having worked in both public and private schools at different school levels, including preschool, Kindergarten, elementary, middle school and high school in Idaho, California and Utah. She is also a teacher of older adults in the Mexican Consulate Literacy Program in the United States, with more than 20 years of experience in the educational field.
She is passionate about women's rights, especially the struggle for justice in the respectful and dignified treatment of women and children. She collaborates with UNICEF in children's programs in Latin American countries. She supports foundations, organizations, campaigns, and homes for children in difficult situations in her country of origin. She is passionate about teaching, and enjoys working with children and young people.
Cutthroat alum Daniela Stokes ’11 joined the Middle School faculty as a French teaching associate starting with the 2022-23 school year. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Daniela holds a degree in Francophone Studies and a minor in Education Studies. During her time at St. Lawrence, she spent a semester abroad in France, studying at the Université de Rouen.
Previously, Daniela served as a community and experiential advisor at Alzar School in Cascade, Idaho, where her primary responsibilities included working with students in the residential program. Daniela has been a substitute teacher at Sun Valley Community School from 2015-21, where she filled in for teachers of all grades and subjects, including serving four months as the ES Spanish teacher. Daniela also has extensive outdoor experience and will help lead trips for the Outdoor Program.
Cara Frost joined Sun Valley Community School in 2011 and currently teaches kindergarten through eighth grade Art, serves as an eighth 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 the school's faculty, 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 Sun Valley 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, books, and her daughter Tova.
Stacey Ward joined Sun Valley Community School in 1994. She taught elementary P.E. and served as a teaching assistant in fourth grade until 2021. Starting with the 2021-2022 school year, Stacey transitioned to lead the K-8 P.E. program.
Stacey holds a BS in education from University of Wyoming.
Stacey was drawn to the 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 Sun Valley Community School in 2008, and Latner.
Megan Mahoney joined Sun Valley Community School in 2017 and currently teaches Middle School Music and Elementary School Dance.
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 the school's faculty, Megan appeared in local, regional, and national theatre productions. She was involved as a performer, choreographer, director, and teacher in Wood River Valley productions through The Spot, St. Thomas Playhouse, and NexStage Theatre.
Cecilee Heath joined our Cutthroat staff in December, 2020. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) Cecilee most recently worked as the Social Worker for St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. While working at St. Luke’s, Cecilee also maintained a small private practice holistically treating primarily trauma and trauma-related disorders.
Cecilee has extensive history working with children of all ages and is trained as a play therapist. Prior to her work at St. Luke’s, she served as a School Social Worker for the alternative high school in Blaine County School District for approximately three years before relocating to Boise temporarily to work as the Clinical Director for the Idaho Youth Ranch. While with the Blaine County School District, she coordinated the Social Emotional Learning Program, taught AP Psychology to 11th and 12th graders, and trained many district staff in Restorative Practices.
Cecilee’s education runs deep. She is a Licensed Trainer for the International Institute on Restorative Practices (IIRP), is certified to teach Trauma-Informed Care, and also created a parent education program that was delivered through The Blaine County Community Drug Coalition for over five years. She is also trained in the Community Resiliency Model. She holds a BS in Psychology and a Master of Social Work from Boise State University.
Heidi Bromley joined SVCS as the new Middle School Enhancement teacher starting in the 2022-23 school year. Heidi brings a wealth of teaching experience, having been a classroom teacher in the Boise School District for the past 20 years, primarily in 7th and 8th grades, in addition to teaching in elementary grades early in her career.
During her time with the Boise School District, she held a number of leadership roles, including professional collaboration teams, curriculum development, and student activity advisor. As a classroom teacher, Heidi supported and challenged her students while building positive classroom cultures and successfully addressing the individual learning needs of her students.
Anik Avard joined the Learning Support Services Program as a K-8 Learning Specialist in 2022. She has over 20 years of experience in elementary education and joins us from Franconia, New Hampshire. In addition to her many years of experience in the classroom, Anik has researched and piloted new literacy programs at her former schools; she has also developed and implemented standards-based, thematic, and interdisciplinary units in her classrooms as well as championed the right use of technologies. She believes in and practices strong communication with families and each student’s team at school.
Anik holds a BA in Fine Arts and History from St. Lawrence University. Additionally, she holds a M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Upper Valley Educators Institute and a K-8 Teacher Certification from Norwich University.
Jill Perkins joined Sun Valley 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 the school, Jill taught in schools in Wisconsin for five years.
At Sun Valley 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 the school.
The Middle School in particular is designed around creating learning opportunities that are student-led, inquiry- and problem-based, and that are therefore exciting and relevant to students' lives. I love the team/theme model that we use in the Middle School, as it allows us to integrate all subject areas the way that students will encounter them in the "real world."
Naomi Goldberg, Eighth Grade Team
SPRING BREAK: MARCH 11-26, 2O23
SCHOOL RESUMES MARCH 27, 2023