Upper School Faculty
Kevin came to Sun Valley 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.
Rachel Aanestad ’94 joined Sun Valley Community School in 2013 as Assistant Director of Development and currently serves as the school librarian and also teaches Intro to Architecture & Design in the Upper School.
Rachel holds a BA in architecture and a BA in theater, both from University of Oregon.
Rachel’s decision to return to the school as a faculty and staff member was a result of her love for the school community and the approach to education that guides learning here. “I appreciate the independent thought, genuine love of natural places, creativity, and uniqueness that are still foundations of this incredible place,” she says. In her teaching role, Rachel is inspired by her students’ love for learning and by her colleagues. “I am constantly amazed by the students capacity to create, absorb, and learn, and by the incredibly inspired and talented faculty with whom I work.”
When she’s not at school, Rachel loves to spend time with her two young daughters and enjoys hiking and doodling.
Anne Aganonjoined Sun Valley Community School in 2008 and currently serves as the Co-Director of the Creative Arts Academy (CAA), Creative Arts Dept. Chair, and the Senior Project Coordinator. She also teaches Studio Art, Ceramics, Photography, and History of the Creative Arts. She supervised the Upper School yearbook for many years before she handed the reigns to Jenny Le in 2023.
Anne holds a BA in political science from Wesleyan University and a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute.
In her teaching role, Anne finds inspiration in her students: "They often come up with unexpected projects and creative ideas, and I love to watch them grow and explore their own creativity," she says. "I also appreciate that the people I work with are professionals and care about what they do here, whether it is their teaching, the outdoor trips, the arts, or other aspects of school life."
When she's not teaching, Anne can often be found on horseback; she owns one horse and participates in endurance riding events.
Caleb Horowitz joined the Marketing and Communications team as its new Video Production Manager and the US faculty as a Creative Arts Teacher. A 2019 graduate of Tulane University, Caleb holds a BA in Digital Media Production and Public Relations. Caleb has prior experience in the film industry and digital media production as well as outdoor recreation. He served as a Digital Media Associate for New Orleans’ Urban South Brewery in 2019, creating high quality digital content to be used as promotional material on a variety of social media platforms. He also served as a Set Production Assistant for various film productions, helping maximize workflow efficiency on set for projects including Filthy Rich and NCIS: New Orleans. Since 2019, he has worked as a licensed Raft Guide and Safety Kayak for Idaho’s Payette River Company, The River Co., and North Carolina’s Rolling Thunder River Co. and since 2021, as a snowboard instructor for Sun Valley Resort and Grand Targhee Resort.
Ben Larroquette, joined Sun Valley Community School as the Upper School music teacher in 2020. A 2005 graduate of Sun Valley Community School, Ben is a lifelong musician. He began piano lessons in 1st grade and guitar lessons in 4th grade. As a former Community School student himself, Ben began recording his own music at the age of 13. After high school, he completed a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts (class of 2010). Since then, he has appeared on numerous albums, toured across the country, and is the singer/songwriter/guitarist for his three-piece rock band called Mom And Dad. When Ben isn’t making music, well, he’s probably still making music. It never stops.
Kevin Wade joined Sun Valley Community School in 2017 and currently serves as the Co-Director of the Creative Arts Academy (CAA). Kevin teaches theatre in the Upper School and also serves as an Upper School advisor and Outdoor Program trip leader. He currently teaches a suite of performing arts classes to Upper School students. Read more on the Creative Arts Academy page.
Kevin is a 2006 graduate of the school, holds a BFA in Drama/Musical Theater from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, and earned a MFA in acting from the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Kevin was a teaching fellow at Harvard University, and is also a member of Actors Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.
Kevin is an accomplished professional actor, director, and educator, having performed in off-Broadway, international, and regional/summer theatre productions, taught and mentored high school and college students, directed and produced a wide range of theatre productions, and created innovative programming and curriculum in a variety of educational settings.
For many years, Kevin served as resident director at the Summer Theater Project for St. Thomas Playhouse; in 2014 he co-founded The Spot, a theater company and acting studio in Ketchum, ID
Phil Huss joined Sun Valley Community School in 2000 and currently teaches a variety of literature and writing classes in the Upper School, including: Interpretations in Law and Literature, American Environmental Literature, Moral Philosophy and Literature, Writing Across the Curriculum, and Hemingway. He also teaches Fly Fishing as an elective course in the Outdoor Leadership Academy curriculum and coached varsity tennis for many years.
Phil holds a BA in English from Amherst College and a MA in English from Boston College.
Phil has served as Upper School Head, Department Head of English, Summer School Director, and currently holds the post of Upper School Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Inspired by "the high level of academic work students produce," Phil appreciates the opportunity to observe his students progress through their years at Community School and witness them flourish in college and in life. He also feels "the quality of teaching and the faculty's ability to lead in the classroom and the outdoors," set the school apart.
When Phil is not in the classroom, he can often be found with a fly rod in hand: "I am happiest standing in an eddy and fly fishing with a trout that is feeding ten feet above me," he says.
Phil and his wife, Chrissie, are parents to two Cutthroats: Nils '21 and Gretel '23.
Emily most recently was a member of the English faculty for The Drew School in San Francisco where she taught 9th and 11th grade English and also served as a Lead Class Advisor. Prior to The Drew School, Emily was a humanities instructor at The Athenian School in Danville, California. In this role, she taught 9th grade World Literature, 10th Grade U.S. Literature, and 11th/12th grade seminars, including Journalism as Literature, The Art of Memoir, Latinx Literature, and Writers’ Workshop. Additionally, she served as an experiential trip leader with trips focused on sustainable agriculture and Spanish, kayaking, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and mindfulness meditation.
Emily holds a Masters in English from Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English and a BA in English Literature and Hispanic Studies from Macalester College.
Caroline Bomstein joined our Upper School history team in the fall of 2020. Caroline is a graduate of Amherst College and earned her MS in Education from Johns Hopkins University in 2021.
During her time at Amherst, Caroline played ice hockey and served as a co-captain her senior year. She also earned NESCAC All-Academic honors her final three semesters, while also being a double major in History and Environmental Studies.
An alum of Teach for America, Caroline cut her teaching teeth in Memphis, Tennessee, teaching world history, government and economics, and U.S. history with that program, which fueled her passion for education. She is an avid outdoorswoman and has taught skiing in Park City, Utah and has led three-week hiking trips in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Iceland for 9th-12th graders.
Caroline brings intelligence, vibrancy, and passion for history to her Upper School history classroom!
Eric Covington joined Sun Valley Community School in 2017 as a Learning Specialist. He transitioned to Upper School history in the fall of 2018. Eric has extensive teaching experience across elementary, middle, and high school, as well as at the university level. He holds a BA in philosophy and religion from Barton College, a MA in religious studies and Western philosophy from the University of Georgia, and is working to complete his PhD in the history of education and curricular design from Montana State University.
Prior to serving as a Learning Specialist, Eric was Head of School at Early College of Arvada in Denver, Colorado, from 2011-2016. In a recommendation letter written on Eric’s behalf, Jeremy Collins, Dean of Humanities at Early College of Arvada, wrote: “Passionate. Engaged. Curious. These are the first three words that strike me when I reflect on my professional experience working for and with Eric Covington. Not once in my fifteen years of teaching, have I encountered a single individual who is as dynamically focused on the well-being and education of students than Mr. Covington.” We are so happy to see Eric transition to an Upper School teaching role.
Eric and his wife, Dana (Sun Valley Community School fifth grade teacher), are the parents to Caleb.
J. Drennan Wesley joined Sun Valley Community School in 2015 and currently teaches Upper School United States History, American Government, First Nations, and History of the Holocaust, among others.
Drennan also co-coaches the Upper School track and field teams, is active in the Outdoor Program, and serves on the Outdoor Leadership Academy staff.
Drennan holds a BA in history from University of Michigan and a MA in the Art of Teaching from Pacific University.
Prior to his position at the school, Drennan spent nine years teaching and coaching at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove, Oregon and was an adjunct professor in Pacific University's Outdoor Leadership program.
Drennan says he feels most successful in the classroom when students bring themselves to question their own understanding of themes and events of the past that then allow them to develop more insight in to the world they live in today. "This motivates them to be more mindful, kind, and thoughtful world citizens," he says.
Sun Valley Community School's commitment to student-teacher relationships through small class sizes and the Outdoor Program were powerful inspirations for Drennan to find a home at the school. He values and admires "the school's commitment to utilizing the outdoors to encourage students to push beyond comfort zones, find confidence in leading and working with others, and strive to be stewards of wild places," he says. "The transference of soft skills, relationships, and confidently facing challenges from the outdoors to the classroom is impressive."
When not in the classroom, Drennan's passions are his family and the outdoors. He and his wife, Heather, are parents to two daughters, Mikayla '25 and Amarah '28. The family loves to "explore wild places, strive to serve others, and aspire to learn about the world around them," he says. "We feel more than blessed to be a part of the Cutthroat family and love calling the Wood River Valley our home."
Fiona Ahearne joined the Upper School faculty as the new French teacher in 2022. Fiona was already a familiar face on the Cutthroat campus, having joined the Teacher Training Academy for the 2021-22 school year. Fiona also serves as the school's Cross Country running coach and as a Nordic coach for Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
During her time as an intern here, Fiona worked with the 8th Grade in humanities, with Nancy Parsons-Brown in French, and as an active leader on many outdoor trips. A 2020 graduate of Bowdoin College (where she also served as co-captain for the Bowdoin College Varsity Nordic Ski Team), Fiona holds a degree in Government and Legal Studies and Education and a minor in Francophone Studies. Fiona's passion for her subject, the outdoors, and Nordic skiing make her a great addition to the Upper School team.
Jake Atwood joined the Upper School faculty as a Spanish teacher in 2022. Jake is a graduate of Bates College, where he studied both English and Spanish. He also spent a semester living in Spain while in college to advance his Spanish. Prior to joining SVCS, Jake completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he taught in a public school.
Jake’s international experience has only strengthened his deep appreciation for other cultures and, certainly, his command of the Spanish language. His experiences both inside the classroom and in the backcountry, coupled with his enthusiasm for working with high school students serve our community well.
Leila Hauser joined the Cutthroat faculty as the US Spanish teacher starting in the fall of 2022. A graduate of Whitman College with a BA in Classical Studies and Spanish, Leila is currently earning her Masters in English from Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English. A former college cross country runner, Leila also serves as a coach for the the Cutthroat Upper School cross country running team.
Prior to joining SVCS, Leila taught humanities and math at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine, where she also served as a tutor and dorm parent. Leila is no stranger to the Cutthroat campus, having served from 2020-21 as a Teaching Training Academy Intern, Residential Advisor, and Upper School Track + Field Coach. During her time with the TTA, Leila designed and co-taught curriculum for 7th-11th Grade Spanish, 10th Grade British Literature, 9th Grade World History and 6th Grade Math.
Leila is WFR certified and has multi-year experience guiding week-long backpacking, canoeing, and canyoneering trips. When she isn't teaching or coaching, Leila enjoys trail running, sailing, backpacking, and adventuring on skis with her Husky Sitka.
Former Teaching Training Academy Intern and Residential Advisor Taylor Alexander joined the Upper School faculty as a full-time math teacher starting in the fall of 2023.
Taylor is a 2022 University of Utah graduate with a B.S. in Environment + Sustainability Studies and Communications. He spent the 2022-23 school year interning with Upper School faculty members, Jud Ford and Scott Runkel, teaching sections of Algebra 1 and Algebra II Honors and Chemistry.
Johanna (Jo) Edwards joined the Upper School Mathematics Department in the fall of 2016, where she currently teaches PreCalculus, PreCalculus Honors, Trigonometry, and Calculus BC in addition to serving as the Head of the Mathematics Department.
A graduate of the University of Oxford, where she earned a BA and a MA in Mathematics, she has worked on A Level curriculum design for the national examination boards in the U.K. and has extensive experience as Head of Mathematics on both sides of the Atlantic. Prior to joining Sun Valley Community School, Jo worked at Alton Convent School in Hampshire, U.K. as the Head of Mathematics for grades six through twelve, and also at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, London. Jo was also Head of the Upper School Mathematics Department at Rowland Hall - St. Mark's in Salt Lake City for ten years.
Jo initially came to the U.S. in 1996, when she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Her desire to return to the mountains and the wide open spaces of the American West and to work at a school that incorporates an academic setting with an outstanding Outdoor Program brought her to Sun Valley Community School.
John Lane joined Sun Valley Community School in August 2022 in a part-time capacity, teaching Upper School math in addition to serving as an SVSA Academic Coordinator.
Prior to joining the Cutthroat community, John served in a variety of mathematical roles in the Cayman Islands. Most recently, he was a Mathematics Tutor with Cayman Tutors where he tutored students in secondary mathematics from Algebra to Calculus as well as IB Maths A.1 11 and 12. Prior, he was the Mathematics Teacher at the Bren Subic International School teaching Math 6, 7, 8, and 9. And from 2015-2020, he was the Mathematics Teacher at Cayman International School, teaching Math 6, 8, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, and IB Maths A.1 11 and 12.
John holds a BS in Mathematics with a minor in Spanish from California Polytechnic University. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors.
In addition to these many academic degrees, John brings a wealth of field experience to the position. While earning his Ph.D., he served as a Storm Surge & Eco-Defense Researcher for the University of Waikato. While at University of Rhode Island, he served as an Alternative Energy Research Assistant where, among other responsibilities, he designed curriculum, lectured, and provided laboratory demonstration/instruction for an international high school study abroad program.
Former roles include working as a Sediment Transport and Hydraulic Modeler for NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) in New Zealand from 2020 until present, and prior to that, as a Freshwater Ecology Technician for NIWA. John also has worked as a systems engineer for Ocean Power Technologies out of New Jersey and Lockheed Martin in Rhode Island.
Scott Runkel joined Sun Valley Community School in 1994 and currently teaches chemistry, ornithology, and other science electives in the Upper School and serves as Sustainability Coordinator, leads the Green Team, and coaches the Ultimate Frisbee team.
Scott holds a BS in natural resources from Cornell University.
Prior to joining the faculty, Scott taught middle and upper school science courses at Knox School on Long Island and at Mission Hill School and St. Sebastian's School, both in Boston.
At Sun Valley Community School, Scott appreciates the fact that learning happens everywhere. "I enjoy the value that the school community here places on authentic learning outside the bounds of a traditional classroom—through the Outdoor Program, of course, but also in a million other ways as students engage with learning through real-world projects and connections with the greater community and environment," he says. "The school supports this kind of learning and the students get excited by it."
Scott's life outside of school mirrors much of what he does on campus, which, he says, is a good thing: "I get to pursue so many of the things I love in my work, which is actually the reason I love teaching here—environmental work, fly fishing, ultimate frisbee, gardening and growing food, and all things to do with creating a sustainable way of life."
Scott and his wife, Naomi, are parents to two Cutthroat graduates: Sara '15 and Eric '12.
Additionally, he served as a Residential Advisor for Rufus M. Brown Hall. Most recently, he worked through AmeriCorps for the Wood River Land Trust as a Pollinator Initiative Coordinator where he planned and implemented habitat restoration projects, created educational materials, led educational programs for Blaine County schools, and assisted with the managing of one of the organization's preserves.
Sean, a former software developer, has been teaching at Brooklyn’s acclaimed Math and Science Exploratory School for nine years. He is a New York City Teaching Fellow who has taken every opportunity to incorporate innovation and technology into his classes. His commitment to extracurriculars is strong, too. Sean led his school’s Lego Robotics team to a 4th place finish in the NYC finals where the competition is fierce. He also launched and ran an after-school coding program for students called Think • Code • Build, which focuses on critical thinking, coding, and hands-on “fun stuff”—robots and drones and more.
I enjoy the value that the school community here places on authentic learning outside the bounds of a traditional classroom—through the Outdoor Program, of course, but also in a million other ways as students engage with learning through real-world projects and connections with the greater community and environment. The school supports this kind of learning and the students get excited by it.Upper School Science Faculty Member