College Counseling
  • Jonelle Larsen
    Jonelle Larsen Director of College Counseling

    Denver was her first home, so Jonelle feels right at home in the West, and she also lived in California before settling in Utah. She received her Master’s in Psychology from Utah State University. As the Director of College Counseling she has since reveled in getting to counsel and encourage young people. She wholeheartedly believes that Wasatch helps cultivate not just great thinkers, but great people.

    The wife and mother of Wasatch Academy graduates, Jonelle takes pride in watching young men and women build on their Wasatch Academy experiences as they prepare for college and enter adulthood.

  • Renee Thibodeaux
    Renee Thibodeaux

    Renee earned an undergraduate degree and credentials in secondary education through a dedicated practice of teaching in diverse school systems across Arizona and in the southernmost point of California. Through these teaching experiences, she has learned to implement progressive, traditional, and project-based-learning educational practices. Renee has lead students at the elementary, secondary, and college levels on academic expeditions utilizing the environments of water, mountains, and canyons.

    Connecting with students and getting to understand their diverse, colorful histories as she helps them toward their distinct futures is her passion.

  • Alyssa Wolf
    Alyssa Wolf

    Alyssa Wolf started teaching summer school at Wasatch Academy in 1999 and was a professor at the college level for 7.5 years. She began teaching English full time for Wasatch Academy in 2011. She currently teaches American literature, AP Literature and Composition, SAT prepatory class, and serves as the faculty advisor for the National Honor Society. Alyssa earned her BA (cum laude) from Wellesley College with a double major in English and women’s studies (with a focus on the third world). She also earned a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Nova Southeastern University.

    Poetry is one of Alyssa’s great passions and she has been a featured poet on Berkeley’s KPFA Radio Poetry Hour, in addition to performing on the Life Under the Horseshoe live radio show. She is a a member of Rock Canyon Poets and has recently had work published in the Orogeny and Inspired poetry journals. Alyssa has two lively and beloved children and enjoys hiking, doing artwork, and creative writing.

  • Matt Duncan
    Matt Duncan English Department Head / Self-Study Coordinator

    Matt has taught web design, pedagogy, print design, Photoshop, first year composition, ESL, and creative writing at the college level. At Wasatch academy, he has taught ESL, English 1 & 2, AP Language & Composition, digital audio, and film. Matt earned a BFA in creative writing with a poetry focus from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. After working in eastern North Carolina in the college textbook industry for five years, he returned to the Midwest to complete an MA in English Literature and an MA in Communication Studies at Northern Illinois University.

    His wife Chiho has served the Wasatch Community as a Japanese tutor and translator, and as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Their young son is a favorite among the students.

  • Buzz Nicholas
    Buzz Nicholas
  • Margaret Peskov
    Margaret Peskov

    Margaret received a BA in English and Rhetoric and a minor in Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary English Education from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently studying ELL methods to enhance her teaching abilities to better help all students. Margaret has been teaching or serving as a supervising teacher for over 20 years in rural Texas, as well as urban and immigrant-rich Chicago, teaching middle and high school literature, rhetoric and composition, economics, Shakespeare, and linguistics. She has also contributed writing to Deloitte Consulting, which serves tech start-up mentors.

    When not teaching, Margaret can be found hiking with her Siberian Husky and traveling abroad with her best friend and husband Dmitri.

English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Cheri Crosby
    Cheri Crosby Head of Department

    Cheri Crosby has had the pleasure of teaching at Wasatch Academy for the past fourteen years. Currently, she is the ESL department head, and teaches ESL literature, listening, and TOEFL preparation. She is also the advisor for the international class, and spearheads international new student orientation, international day, and the ethnic food court. She has a MAEd in ESL from Dominican University, and a TESOL certification from Nomen Global Language Center.

    Before she began her teaching career at Wasatch Academy, she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, taught English at Shokei High School in Japan, and taught Spanish at Millville Elementary. Cheri has four children and two grandsons.

  • Angela Christiansen
    Angela Christiansen

    Angela received a dual master’s degree in linguistics and ESL from the University of Utah. For over 27 years, she has taught students of all ages, from preschool children to elderly adults, in many different settings. Angela has specialized in working with English language learners for almost 24 years, at Wasatch and abroad.

    She also loves learning, reading, researching, quilting, cycling, hiking, camping, and traveling. Angela loves meeting people from all over the world through the Wasatch community.

  • Zahra Lee
    Zahra Lee

    Zahra has a master’s degree in English Education and teaching certifications in English Education and ESL. She has over seventeen years’ experience in education in boarding schools, public schools, and teaching overseas. Zahra is committed to diversity and multiculturalism and comes from a multicultural family that taught her to have an open mind and to respect differences.

    Zahra has four adult children, and presently lives at home with her ten-year-old son Theo and her husband Tariq. She loves traveling and languages, and is currently studying Urdu. She also enjoys creative writing, yoga, reading, and walking.

  • Todd Bucklin
    Todd Bucklin ESL and Social Studies Teacher

    Before joining Wasatch, Todd has successfully taught at several boarding schools, such as The Williston Northampton School, Idyllwild Arts Academy, The Winchendon School, and The MacDuffie School. He has taught a wide range of high school subjects, including English, American Literature, US History, World Literature, Global Studies, World Geography, Asian Religions and Philosophy, Chinese Language, and various English Language Learner (ELL) classes. Todd has developed a unique teaching style over the last twenty years based on engagement, humility, and humor.

    He likes to spend his free time traveling, watching Boston area sporting events, and eating sushi. His family includes wife Naomi, a native of Japan, and two children: Ayano, a graduating MacDuffie School senior and soon-to-be PG at Wasatch Academy, and Jadon, an incoming sophomore.

Experiential Education
  • Travis Madsen
    Travis Madsen Athletics Director

    Travis began working at Wasatch Academy in September of 2013. He has 21 years of experience as an Athletic Director, Coach, and Teacher. The Varsity sports he has coached include Basketball (Boys & Girls), Baseball, Volleyball (Girls & Boys), Soccer (Girls & Boys), Track (Boys & Girls), and Cross Country (Girls & Boys). Travis earned his bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University and has taught Health, Physical Education, Philosophy, Student Leadership, and Psychology. He has also been employed in the social work field as Program Director for an at-risk youth program and Regional Director for a large company that provided services for people with disabilities. Travis’ current position at Wasatch Academy is Boys Volleyball Coach and Manager of athletic facilities & intramural sports.

  • Todd Tree
    Todd Tree

    Todd Tree was raised in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, where he grew up training and showing horses. Todd is a graduate of Snow College and Oklahoma State Horseshoeing School. Todd loves working with the students in the Equine Program at Wasatch Academy, and he prides himself in always trying to put the students first. Todd’s exceptional patience and background living as a cowboy provide him the ability to teach any student, no matter their background and experience with horses.

    In Todd’s free time, you can find him on the rodeo trail, where he continues to compete in calf roping. He also enjoys shoeing horses, training horses, and team sorting.

  • Dr. Joel Barnes
    Dr. Joel Barnes Director of Experiential Education and Sustainability

    Dr. Barnes has a Ph.D. in Environmental Conservation and Education from Union Institute & University and has been teaching

    environmental studies, sustainability, and adventure education at the secondary and college levels for over 30 years, primarily at the undergraduate and graduate level. Dr. Barnes has also served as Director of the Prescott Graduate Teaching Assistant Program and Grand Canyon Semester, and has participated in extensive studies in environmental development and sustainability.

    His personal interests include natural history field studies, bioregional living and gardening, hiking, recreational boating on rivers, lakes, and oceans, surfing, conversational Spanish, and foreign travel and wildland expeditions. Dr. Barnes has participated in 50 trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, the American Southwest, and the Colorado Plateau, New Zealand, southeastern Alaska, Costa Rica, Iceland, mainland Mèxico, the Baja Peninsula, and the Yucatàn Peninsula.

Language Studies
  • Scott Butler
    Scott Butler

    Scott attended Brigham Young University, where he pursued studies in English and Spanish. He also studied Portuguese. Scott lived in Spain for two years and learned Spanish and Catalan. His focus of study at university was Spanish linguistics. Scott has enjoyed the unique opportunity to coach Wasatch Academy students over the past twenty years and he has taught summer school at Wasatch Academy on four or five occasions over those years.

    Scott and his wife moved to Sanpete County in 1994 and he has taught Spanish and coached basketball, golf, cross country, and track for the past 22 years for Wasatch Academy while raising his children.

  • Mei Wang
    Mei Wang

    Mei earned her Bachelor’s degree from Hubei Normal University in China. The book Summer School inspired Mei to be a good educator when she was in college. She spent two years teaching English in China after graduating and received training from the College Board, which equipped her with both Chinese and American teaching philosophies. Wasatch Academy has wonderful values that motivate her to create an engaging classroom for students.

    Mei enjoys cooking and is an expert in Chinese cuisine. Her students love when she shares this passion with the class, discussing the differences in Chinese and other cultures with students.

  • Sage Engberg
    Sage Engberg

    As a language educator, Sage is passionate about fostering a global perspective in her students. She has enjoyed teaching within French, Japanese, British, Spanish, and American schools. Sage has a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish from Middlebury College and a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne. It is her goal to bring this international perspective to her student-centered lessons every day.

    Outside of the classroom, our new language teacher spends her days hiking, climbing, and long-distance backpacking. She enjoys trying her hand at several musical instruments, including piano, ukulele, and banjo.

Learning Services
  • Ellen Parker
    Ellen Parker Academic Coach Program Coordinator

    Ellen has over 25 years of experience as an educator, and holds a Master of Science in Microbiology from California Polytechnic University, Pomona.  For a number of years,  Ellen taught undergraduate level courses in microbiology at CSULB and worked during the summer months as a Public Health Department educator for the city of Long Beach.  Ellen has served as a Utah State Science and Engineering Fair mentor and judge for the past 10 years. She has also worked extensively for the Utah Department of Natural Resources as a Wildlife and Natural History educator.  Prior to coming to Wasatch, Ellen began a social studies-based cultural diversity arts program at the Salt Lake City Public Library, where she worked with middle school and high school students, creating contextual artwork for regular exhibitions at the library. She has been the Wasatch Academy Academic Coaching Coordinator for the past 2 years and also works as the costumer for the Theatre Department.

    Ellen has two very talented and successful daughters who are her source for inspiration.  She currently enjoys living in the quiet, rural community of Mount Pleasant, Utah.

  • Cheryl Mietchen
    Cheryl Mietchen Learning Strategies Coordinator / Testing Coordinator

    Born and raised in Utah, Cheryl Mietchen came to Wasatch Academy as the Learning Strategies Coordinator after 16 years of experience in the field of education. Cheryl holds a Bachelor’s of Arts from Westminister in Elementary Education with an English major and attended the University of Utah, earning her Master of Education in special education.   Upon completion, she finished a certificate in early childhood special education at Utah State University and an administrative certificate from Southern Utah University. Cheryl has held many positions within the public-school setting, including Special Education Director, Principal, Preschool Director, and Testing Specialist.

    One of her greatest joys is working with students to help them meet their full potential. Of all her educational experiences, she has most loved working with the students and staff at Wasatch Academy.

  • Kara Loftin
    Kara Loftin Assistant Head of School for Academic Support

    As the Assistant Head of School for Academic Support, Kara Scott Loftin provides effective academic skills assessments and support in the areas of reading and writing, executive function skills, independent learning, and study skills.  Kara began her time at Wasatch Academy as the Director of Music, and after receiving a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland, she slowly began transitioning into her current role. Certified through the International Dyslexia Association and Wilson Reading System as a Dyslexia Specialist, her position creates individualized student success profiles and provides managerial direction for developing, planning, goal setting, and implementations of academic support services.  She is currently pursuing a Masters in Special Education from Fitchburg State University while simultaneously completing her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Her passion for education has also positioned her on the NWAIS Pathways to Leadership cohort.

    Kara knows there is no place she would rather be working. She is doing what she loves while being part of the extraordinary community of learners and thinkers at Wasatch Academy.
  • Emma Chiappetta
    Emma Chiappetta

    Emma graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in mathematics and economics in 2011. She then went on to study mathematics in graduate school at Dartmouth College. She received a Master’s degree in mathematics with a focus on Riemannian geometry from Dartmouth in 2013. She loved the teaching experiences that she had at Dartmouth and decided to dedicate herself to teaching.

    Emma came to Wasatch in the summer of 2014. She currently teaches Pre-calculus, and AP Statistics. Emma is an innovative teacher, who uses cutting edge research to drive her instruction. Recently she led the charge in flipping the classroom so that math students could receive more feedback during class periods.  Emma was awarded Best of State Teacher of the Year Award in 2017.

    Despite being a native New Englander, Emma loves living in Utah and can often be found exploring all the wilderness that the west has to offer.

  • Zeb Engberg
    Zeb Engberg

    Zeb pursued higher mathematics at Hampshire College, where he received his Bachelor’s degree. He went on to earn a PhD at Dartmouth College in number theory. Although Zeb finds research mathematics stimulating, his teaching experiences turned out to be far more moving and motivating, which is why he took a step away from higher academia to teach mathematics at Wasatch Academy.

    Zeb is an avid rock climber and outdoor adventurer. Just before arriving at Wasatch in 2014, Zeb climbed Denali via the Cassin Ridge. He has climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan 8 times and slept on its sheer face 23 nights.

  • Kari Varga
    Kari Varga

    Kari Varga studied at Utah State University and has taught algebra and geometry to Wasatch students for the past six years. Prior to becoming a math teacher at Wasatch Academy, she spent 10 years as a personal math tutor for Wasatch students.

    Kari enjoys quilting, gardening, reading, and traveling. The beautiful landscaping on the Wasatch campus can be credited to the Varga family. Kari’s husband leads the grounds crew in the art of keeping the campus nice year-round. In the summer, you will see Kari and their children join in the effort to make Wasatch blossom.

  • Nick Fowler
    Nick Fowler

    Having studied physics through his undergraduate and graduate career, Nick joined Wasatch Academy in 2015 as a mathematics, engineering, and robotics teacher. His background in education consists of several years teaching engineering physics studios at Kansas State University as well as performing his graduate research in physics education. Through his years teaching in hands-on, project-oriented studios, he has learned to be a highly interactive instructor, encouraging student-driven projects and many interactive assignments.

    Outside of school, Nick is an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, and athlete. He is a dedicated rock climber. For 10 years, he has been rock climbing and now specializes in traditional style ascents on large vertical faces.

  • John Pikus
    John Pikus

    John grew up in New Jersey, then attended Hamilton College, where he fell in love with physics and mathematics in pursuit of his physics degree. At Hamilton, he had the opportunity to conduct research in both spectroscopy and black hole thermodynamics, as well as student teaching in local high school classes. Additionally, John developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors, leading frequent hiking, climbing, and skiing trips for the outing club. As a teacher, John believes math is a fascinating subject with many real-world applications, which can be enjoyed by all students when approached through the right teaching styles.

    In his free time, Mr. Pikus enjoys climbing, skiing, hiking, playing guitar, and reading.

Performing Arts
  • Matthew Schukis
    Matthew Schukis Head of Department

    Matthew received his Master of Music degree in vocal performance with distinction in performance honors from the New England Conservatory. A native of New Jersey, Matt spent 14 years teaching music in his home state before moving to Utah in 2014 to teach music and vocal performance at Wasatch Academy. As a professional singer, Matt has worked with Luciano Pavarotti, Carlisle Floyd, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Nathan Lane, Marc Anthony, John Denver, and many others. He has sung for audiences that included five American presidents, the royal family of England, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, and the Dali Lama. Matt was employed as the baritone resident soloist for King’s Chapel in Boston under composer/conductor Daniel Pinkham for six years, and he also created the role of Mr. Carrisford and can be heard on the internationally released original cast album of Neil Minsky’s The Little Princess.


    In addition to teaching Music, Matt is also a Varsity Girls Soccer Coach and a former Varsity Softball Coach. When not in class or on the athletic field, he enjoys hiking and exploring the beautiful wilderness of Utah and the American West.

  • Frank Moody
    Frank Moody Computer Science Instructor

    Born and raised in New York, Frank Moody is an alum who has become a technical expert for the Wasatch team. He has taught computer science classes, run A/V for the school, acted as the public relations manager for students, and taught music classes. Frank currently teaches guitar, digital audio, drumming, and Adobe Photoshop classes. If you’ve had the opportunity to see a Wasatch drama production, music performance, or faculty presentation in the past few years, Frank was the one responsible for making the technical equipment run smoothly.

    Frank’s mentorship and support of students led to the release of a documentary about one student’s social commentary on her native Afghanistan. Frank and his wife Christine enjoy traveling and music.

  • Paula Bick
    Paula Bick

    Paula is a graduate of The Juilliard School. She earned her master’s degree at Boston University and became an elected member of the honor music society Phi Beta Kappa.

    Paula Bick has performed in the major concert halls across five continents of the world. She has enjoyed touring the east and west coasts, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia with soloists Hillary Hahn, Yundi Li, and Lang Lang. For more than a decade, Paula enjoyed a freelance career in New York City, where she performed with a variety of artists including Natalie Merchant, Paul Schaffer, Judy Collins, Duncan Sheik, Steve Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and Johnny Mathis. She has also performed as a soloist with the Asiana Sinfonia in Merkin Hall. Paula can be seen making a musical appearance in the movie The Longest Week, and she has served as concertmaster and assistant concertmaster for Esopus Chamber Orchestra, been a guest violist of Red Door String Quartet, and principal violist of The Jupiter Symphony, Key West Symphony, Juilliard Symphony, and Tanglewood Orchestra. Paula has also performed in the pit for Elf the Musical at the Pioneer Theater and Ballet West at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah. Paula has been a Tanglewood Fellow and given performances at many music festivals, including Yellowbarn, Verbier, Manchester, Encore, Kent/Blossom, Meadowmount, Provincetown Chamber Music Series, International Masterclass in Bordeaux, East Hampton Chamber Music, and American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria.


    Paula enjoys yoga, powerlifting, reading, cooking, and walking in her free time.

  • Buzz Nicholas
    Buzz Nicholas
  • Shona Estey-Edwards
    Shona Estey-Edwards Outdoors Intern and Dance Instructor

    Shona recently graduated from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona, with a degree in Outdoor Experiential Education from the Adventure Education department. She has 6 years of experience in leadership and as an outdoor educator, working as a wilderness expedition leader, environmental educator, school gardener, yoga teacher, and warehouse technician during her time at Prescott College. Shona has an extreme passion for working with high school students in outdoor, experiential settings. She has been a certified yoga teacher for 4 years and has a background in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and jazz.

    Whether it’s hiking, rock climbing, or whitewater rafting, Shona loves sharing in the awe and appreciation of nature, and getting outside to educate and explore.

Residential Life
  • Ryan White
    Ryan White Assistant Dorm Parent for Sage
  • Ray Tuineau
    Ray Tuineau Dorm Parent for Sage
  • Ryan Steere
    Ryan Steere Assistant Dorm Parent for Centennial
  • Jeff McQuivey
    Jeff McQuivey Centennial Dorm Parent/Prefect Coordinator
  • Abbi Kennedy
    Abbi Kennedy Pierce Dorm Parent
  • Melissa Davis
    Melissa Davis Dorm Parent for Alice

    Melissa “Mel” Davis, born in Ontario, Canada, earned her BS in Sociology from Brigham Young University in 1991. Mel has been working at Wasatch Academy since January 2001, and during this time she has been a full-time dorm parent, assistant to the Dean of Students, Summer School Recreation Coordinator, and currently serves as the Recreation Director, and STUCO advisor. She also over sees vehicles and Class Sponsors, visiting groups like Sister Schools from other countries, family reunions or any outside group that utilizes the Wasatch Academy campus.

    Her minor was in outdoor recreation, and in 2012 she became certified as a Wilderness First Responder. Mel has been married to Roger Davis since Dec. 28, 1993, and they have three beautiful children.

School Counseling
  • Maggi Quackenbush
    Maggi Quackenbush
  • Sandra Friedman
    Sandra Friedman

    Sandra completed her Bachelors of Science in Geology (Honors) at the University of Windsor in 2008. While at school, she developed a love for education through teaching at a summer camp in New York and serving as a Girl Guide Leader, then went on to get her  achelor of Education degree in Junior/Intermediate Geography also at the University of Windsor. Sandra passes on her joyful approach to science to our youngest students through her physical science class and her love for the Earth in her geology class.

    Her passions include spending time with her husband and two small boys, crafting, gardening, reading, and enjoying the natural beauty of Utah.

  • David Roth, PhD
    David Roth, PhD Head of Department

    Dr. David Roth graduated high school from Albuquerque Academy and then earned all three of his advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Integrative Biology. He then performed three and a half years of postdoctoral research training at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine (Departments of Pathology and Cardiology) on Fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and American Heart Association Postdoctoral.

    Dr. Roth was then an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder for 6 years, then was lured into the Biotechnology industry where he served as Director of Research and Vice President of Research and Development at four biotech companies over 14 years in San Diego and Orange County, CA.

    Dr. Roth has been the Science Department Chair at WA for the past 5 years, and teaches Biology, AP-Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and coaches the Girls and Boys Tennis Teams at WA. He enjoys road and mountain bike riding, alpine, telemark and backcountry skiing, hiking and backpacking, and snowshoeing with his family and friends in the Wasatch range.

  • Peter Cossid
    Peter Cossid

    Peter Cossid has taught chemistry at Wasatch Academy for the past five years. He studied biochemistry at Xavier University, where he also earned his master of arts degree in education. Peter is also a level two archery instructor, which is a course that has recently been added due to student demand. He is the chess team advisor and can often be found playing chess with the students to challenge them to think more strategically in their games. Peter’s love of games can be seen from the way he often plays table tennis with students to the way he teaches his classes. He uses a concept of “gamification” to engage students in a creative way.

    Peter happily opens his home to students on a regular basis, and he knows the importance of a home-cooked meal. While he and his wife are known for excellent Pilipino food, they also love to cook the native foods of homesick students to help cheer them up.

  • Bill Bedford
    Bill Bedford Academic Scheduling / AP Chem

    Bill divides his time at Wasatch Academy between the scheduling office, the chemistry classroom, and the track field. This unique blend of his talents allows him to work with many different students. Bill earned his undergraduate degree at Amherst College before obtaining a Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bill has dedicated more than a quarter century of work to Wasatch Academy. He has found that running alongside students and coaching is the best way to build relationships. Many of his favorite memories are from working with cross country and track and field students.


    Bill is known for being a long-distance machine, whether he is cycling, running, or cross-country skiing. He also enjoys traveling and camping with his family and pets, and accompanying students on recreational trips.

  • Ryan Anderson
    Ryan Anderson

    Ryan is an avid outdoorsman and passionate educator. With extensive experience in the field of adventure education, he has more recently focused his experiential education background on more formal classroom facilitation in the fields of Earth and Environmental Sciences. He really enjoys making connections with students by utilizing a positive environment to help them understand the importance of learning and feel comfortable while enjoying the learning process.

    Mr. Anderson’s aim is to help students understand and appreciate their environment and the world around them, so they can help support it and make a positive contribution as citizens of the world. Through his teaching experience at Wasatch, he hopes to inspire students to change their world for the better.

  • Travis Magaluk
    Travis Magaluk

    Mr. Magaluk grew up in Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering. He then moved to Colorado to pursue a career in outdoor education, where he taught for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and most recently he worked as a high school physics teacher on the East Coast. Travis believes in the power of learning through experience and gaining hands-on experience with topics taught in the classroom.

    When Travis isn’t working, he enjoys rock climbing, skiing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, yoga, and cooking.

Social Studies
  • Jason Friedman, PhD
    Jason Friedman, PhD Head of Social Studies Department

    Dr. Friedman received his Ph.D. in American history from Michigan State University in 2009. Having taught undergraduate and graduate classes elsewhere, he now teaches history and political science, including AP US history and AP US government and politics at Wasatch Academy. Dr. Friedman also serves as the social studies department chair, the director of the honors credit program, and the assistant coach for the boys and girls golf teams. He has published and presented nationally and internationally on the issues of 1970s presidential politics, specifically how presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter worked to improve America’s image after the twin traumas of the Vietnam War and Watergate.

    Dr. Friedman married his college sweetheart Sandra, and together they moved cross-country nearly a decade ago,  growing their family here at Wasatch Academy.

  • Beth Thompson
    Beth Thompson

    Beth graduated from Wasatch Academy in 1999. She received her master’s in humanities with a focus in history in 2009 from California State University Dominguez Hills, as well as her Colorado secondary teaching license from Regis University. She has taught history from 6th grade to the community college level. She is currently teaching Global Studies II and economics.

    Beth is also the cheer coach, and she enjoys camping and hiking in her spare time

  • Josh McAlister
    Josh McAlister

    After graduating with a B.A. in Political Science, Josh worked in marketing and sales. After 5 great years in management and running his own district, he decided to travel around Asia and learn Chinese, so he moved to Taiwan to teach elementary school students and to study Chinese at Shi-Da University. Mr. McAlister has spent the last five and a half years teaching and developing curriculum in the PYP, MYP, and DP at an IB World School. For the last 3 years, he was the Diploma Program Coordinator, and now has an M.A. Ed. in Secondary Education.

    Josh’s free time is spent either chasing a ball or watching a ball being chased with sports such as basketball, tennis, and football—or in spending time with his wife and two kids exploring the outdoors.

  • Todd Bucklin
    Todd Bucklin ESL and Social Studies Teacher

    Before joining Wasatch, Todd has successfully taught at several boarding schools, such as The Williston Northampton School, Idyllwild Arts Academy, The Winchendon School, and The MacDuffie School. He has taught a wide range of high school subjects, including English, American Literature, US History, World Literature, Global Studies, World Geography, Asian Religions and Philosophy, Chinese Language, and various English Language Learner (ELL) classes. Todd has developed a unique teaching style over the last twenty years based on engagement, humility, and humor.

    He likes to spend his free time traveling, watching Boston area sporting events, and eating sushi. His family includes wife Naomi, a native of Japan, and two children: Ayano, a graduating MacDuffie School senior and soon-to-be PG at Wasatch Academy, and Jadon, an incoming sophomore.

  • Kurt Quackenbush
    Kurt Quackenbush 3D Animation Instructor

    Kurt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2001 with a degree in industrial design. Afterwards, he worked in Detroit at General Motors in the Pontiac Design Studio, designing automobiles. He went on to work in the video game industry as a 3D artist at a number of studios such as EA, Sony, Kodiak, and PolyStew. Kurt has several AAA published game titles that he has worked on, and he immensely enjoys the creative environment of gaming. In 2011 Kurt began teaching both 2D and 3D technology at Wasatch Academy. He is currently the head for the Center of Evolving Technology and instructs 3D animation, video game design, and design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver.

    Kurt enjoys spending free time with his son and two daughters as often as possible. He can also be found zooming across the beautiful landscape of Utah on his motorcycle.

  • Frank Moody
    Frank Moody Computer Science Instructor

    Born and raised in New York, Frank Moody is an alum who has become a technical expert for the Wasatch team. He has taught computer science classes, run A/V for the school, acted as the public relations manager for students, and taught music classes. Frank currently teaches guitar, digital audio, drumming, and Adobe Photoshop classes. If you’ve had the opportunity to see a Wasatch drama production, music performance, or faculty presentation in the past few years, Frank was the one responsible for making the technical equipment run smoothly.

    Frank’s mentorship and support of students led to the release of a documentary about one student’s social commentary on her native Afghanistan. Frank and his wife Christine enjoy traveling and music.

  • Dave Huls
    Dave Huls

    Dave Huls is a Wasatch graduate from 1970, and he earned his telecommunications degree from the University of Utah. After working in the television, film and satellite industry for years,  Dave returned to Wasatch to teach film classes. He instructs students in the skills of developing stories, taking great shots, editing video, and other aspects of filmmaking, as well as assisting the Wasatch marketing team with video content.


    Dave enjoys fly fishing, rafting, golfing, skiing, and in general spending time outdoors with his family. He highly values the dynamic and rich conversations and relationships with the students he’s gotten to know while working at Wasatch.

  • Mark Christiansen
    Mark Christiansen

    With a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature and a year of graduate study under his belt, Mark brings 20 years of experience in the IT industry to his computer sciences classes at Wasatch Academy. His work as an IT professional has helped him stay in touch with the ever-evolving tech field and understand the need for creativity in projects. Mark enjoys the opportunity to work as a facilitator and give students projects that allow them to collaborate and have some say in how the project goes. While a student at Brigham Young University, Mark studied literature.


    Mark has lived in Japan, Germany, and Paraguay, which has given him a great appreciation for working with students from all around the world. He also enjoys studying Greek and Latin, reading, and spending time with his family.

Visual Arts
  • Laura Prenot
    Laura Prenot Head of Department

    Laura attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and graduated with a BA in Studio Art with a minor in Geology. Since then, she has worked for the Teacher Education Department of Marist College, and ran the Ceramic studios as the Art Intern at Hamilton College. Laura has been at Wasatch Academy since 2006 and worked in Communications and the Dean’s Office before moving to Visual Arts.  She played an integral role in the creation of the new Studio Arts Center on campus.

    When Laura is not helping students or creating her own art, she can be found exploring the great outdoors with her friends and her dog.

  • Holly Hooper
    Holly Hooper

    Holly’s early education was at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in the field of nursing and art therapy. In the early 2000s, she moved with her husband and two young sons from Las Vegas to Central Utah, where she pursued being a full-time artist. She has won numerous awards in printmaking, drawing, and silver gelatin photography, and has shown in multiple venues throughout the state of Utah and Midwest. Holly has worked at Wasatch Academy since 2013 and has taught a wide variety of art classes such as printmaking, drawing, painting, street art, sewing, and general art instruction.

    Outside of the classroom, Holly enjoys spending as much time as possible with her two sons, husband, and dog. She also loves sewing, gardening, and adventuring. 

List of Deans
  • Dr. J Dianne Brederson
    Dr. J Dianne Brederson Assistant Head of School for Academics

    J Dianne is passionate about educational leadership, curriculum studies, assessment, and social justice education, and strives to increase cultural competence and global awareness in our society. With a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a two Master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Teaching Foreign Languages, she brings more than 25 years of experience in the field of education as a Director of Programs, curriculum coordinator, associate professor, university coordinator, curriculum developer, instructor, mentor, advisor, and assistant coach. She is uniquely qualified to be a part of the Wasatch team from her experience working in U.S. public schools, the Peace Corps in Rwanda, the International School of Myanmar, and the International School of Prague.

    J Dianne enjoys yoga, hiking, camping, paddle boarding, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, reading, and playing with her children as they discover the world around them.

  • Jamaal Brown
    Jamaal Brown Assistant Dean of Students/Assistant Boys Basketball Coach

    Jamaal played basketball for Oklahoma State, and since has carried his expertise from on and off the court to his position as Assistant Coach to the varsity boys’ basketball team at Wasatch Academy. His ability to relate to and connect with students on a personal level has enabled him to build genuine relationships and become an effective role model for students through his second position as the Assistant Dean of Students.

  • Ty Kennedy
    Ty Kennedy Dean of Residential Life/Dean of Boys/Boys Basketball Director

    Ty became Dean of Residential Life and Dean of Students after six years of being a dorm parent for 9th and 10th graders. He has served as recreation director, athletic director, summer school director, and, in general, has been a go-to for executing the best in student life and student experience during his 20-plus years at Wasatch Academy.

    When weather permits, you can find Ty riding motorcycles across the beautiful state of Utah and enjoying the national parks. He is an avid sports fan and he loves cheering on his children or supporting the Wasatch teams.

  • Amie Mondragon
    Amie Mondragon Dean of Girls

    Our Dean of Students, Amie began at Wasatch over 15 years ago as a dorm parent, where she got to hit the ground running with empowering young girls, and has since shared at conferences around the world on research-based female adolescent body image solutions, creating a diverse campus, and residential faculty curriculum. She is a Certified Family Life Educator, and received her BA in Family, Consumer, and Human Development from Utah State University.