Jackson Hole Classical Academy is extremely fortunate to have dedicated and talented teachers, and we are thrilled to be guided by the experience and insight of the Great Hearts leaders as we expand our teaching staff.
List of 21 items.
Mrs. Kathleen Patrick
Asbury College, B.A., Elementary Education University of Kentucky, M.A., Early Childhood Education
Mrs. Kathleen Patrick’s years of teaching experience form the foundation for future success of students at Jackson Hole Classical Academy. With a background in classical education, Mrs. Patrick’s love for her young students is evident in every aspect of how she conducts her classroom. Born in New York, and most recently living and teaching in Texas, Mrs. Patrick and her husband love living the Wyoming mountain life. Outside of teaching, she finds joy in gardening, bird watching, and spending time with her grandchildren.
“I love teaching at JH Classical because of the amazing support parents give. Here, I have parents taking the initiative and coming to me to ask how they can best help their child succeed. JH Classical parents are the best!”
Mrs. Patrick’s training in Spalding Method Phonics, experience with the Charlotte Mason approach to habit formation, and knowledge of the Grammar stage of classical education provide an optimal skill set to place the Academy’s Kindergarten students on a path for success in the later years of our program.
“Studying the stages of human childhood development at the university level is valuable,” she says, “but raising my own children, and taking a break from a teaching career in order to homeschool them, was, let’s say, a bit more enlightening. Children thrive when given love and understanding in the early years – coupled, of course, with high expectations. JH Classical Academy understands and embraces these same assumptions. The chance to teach here, where my faith in Christ can inform my instructional approach, fits my definition of an ideal opportunity.”
Born in New York, Mrs. Patrick’s family moved to California and later settled in Wisconsin, where she spent most of her pre-university years. After many years in Dallas, Texas, she and her husband Robert are enjoying the respite from heat in beautiful Jackson Hole. Mrs. Patrick enjoys reading, bird watching, and gardening and enjoys hosting her four young grandchildren for snowy Jackson Christmases.
Mrs. Kimberly Nichols
Grand Valley State University, B.S., Film and Video Production Regis University, M.Ed., Special Education, generalist
1st Grade, DIBELS Instructor
Mrs. Kimberly Nichols brings more than a decade of experience to JH Classical Academy, having taught K-8 students in public, private, and Christian school settings. Mrs. Nichols’ students find her energy and joy for learning contagious from the moment they enter her classroom. With her roots in Michigan, Mrs. Nichols has lived in eight different states and also has spent time living in South Korea. Her passion for helping students rise to their full potential is reflected in her involvement with Young Life, where she has served as a leader for multiple years.
"What I love about JH Classical is that I can really teach, encourage, and inspire my students. The literature-rich curriculum enables me to go deeper and foster an environment of thoughtful inquiry and deep wonder."
Mrs. Kimie Nichols brings more than a decade of experience to JH Classical Academy; she has taught K-8 students in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and South Korea at public, private, and Christian schools. Her undergraduate degree in psychology and master’s degree in education from Regis University in Colorado give her insight into K-12 generalist and special education.
Mrs. Nichols has a passion for helping students grow both inside and outside the classroom. For the past six years, she has been a leader with Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization that reaches out to children and teenagers by building meaningful mentoring relationships. Mrs. Nichols said that she has grown in understanding kids for who they are and helping them to experience their full potential.
Mrs. Nichols’ many years in the classroom let her see the unique development of each child. The small class sizes at JH Classical Academy allow her to focus and adapt her expertise for every student. Mrs. Nichols said, “Because I’ve had so many experiences and worked with such a wide range of students, I can recognize where each student is at and what exactly they need at each step in the learning process.”
Mrs. Nichols appreciates the impact classical education can have on the life of a school and the quality of learning. She was frustrated by the testing and common core requirements of the public school. Since moving to Jackson, she has said, “At this school, I’m now actually able to use my teaching abilities in the classroom to guide students.”
Mrs. Nichols had already committed to living in Wyoming before coming to Jackson. She taught in Powell for four years and wanted to continue to live in a place with wide-open spaces and the mountains. She loves the outdoor life that Jackson offers, and especially the sense of community. Mrs. Nichols senses it present in Jackson in a way that she has been looking for and rarely found elsewhere. “This place is a blessing. I’ve been to many different schools, and this place is unique and wonderful.
Miss Sarah Grupp
Catholic University, B.Ph., Philosophy and Classics
Miss Sarah Grupp graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelors of Philosophy in Philosophy and Classics. She has a strong grounding in French and the classical languages. While her studies have drawn her to complex literature, Miss Grupp also loves the opportunity to reread and reflect on the books she loved as a child. In her spare time, Miss Grupp enjoys martial arts, sewing, drawing, reading, and skiing.
“Being able to play a role in helping children grow as human beings, to watch their sense of wonder as they learn more about the world they live in, about themselves, and about other human beings and their ideas throughout history, is an honor and a delight.”
Miss Sarah Grupp brings with her a wealth of knowledge and zeal for classical education which she is thrilled to share with her students. Miss Grupp is herself the third child in a family of eleven. Her older brother Mr. Timothy Grupp, is the chess teacher at JHCA. Miss Grupp loves working with young children due to their enthusiasm and sense of wonder.
“I’ve always loved the second-grade level, and I have been helping to teach my younger siblings my whole life, so I have lots of experience with that age,” she said. “They are that perfect age when they really want to do things on their own and can, but they are also cute, curious and have so much to learn.”
Miss Grupp graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelors of Philosophy in Philosophy and Classics. She has a strong grounding in the classical languages, philosophy and literature as well as French from a year studying abroad in France after high school.
Her studies have drawn her to complex literature, philosophy, and language study, but Miss Grupp also loves the opportunity to reread and reflect on the books she loved as a child. She said that each time she reads a book with a new audience, she gleans more insight and more depth from the work.
Miss Grupp also has many athletic talents. She has long been a student of the Martial Arts and played ultimate frisbee competitively. She and her team went to the Ultimate Frisbee Nationals her Sophomore and Junior year of college.
Having spent much of her life in the mountain west, Miss Grupp is excited to explore the valley of Jackson Hole more and is excited to be close to her family, who relocated to Alpine, WY a few years ago. She is excited to spend even more time hiking, paddle boarding, and exploring the outdoors. Miss Grupp also enjoys sewing, drawing, and all kinds of crafting.
Mrs. Amy Pino
Virginia Commonwealth University, B.A., International Relations and Political Science
Mrs. Amy Pino follows in a long line of Virginians falling in love with the beauty of Jackson Hole. Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, Mrs. Pino stayed local for college, earning a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in International Relations and Political Science. Mrs. Pino classically homeschooled her own children and loves how classical education combines the wonder of learning with academic rigor. Mrs. Pino is thrilled to share the many delights of the Valley with her husband, Andrew, and four children, Laila, Avery, Logan and Maddox.
Mrs. Amy Pino joins Jackson Hole Classical Academy with a rich, storied background in classical pedagogy. A mother of four, Mrs. Pino designeda classically-focused homeschool curriculum for her children, which in her opinion, provided an unmatched learning environment for her young students.
“I never intended to homeschool,” she says, “but when my children advanced academically as quickly as they did, I knew the classical method was truly best for them.”
She finds the classical approach attractive because it mirrors the natural stages of learning. In her words, “students are given pegs - or milestones - that they hold onto, and remember well as they mature and grow. The classical approach is rigorous - yet it encourages a child’s natural desire to learn.”
A transplant to Jackson from Richmond, VA, Mrs. Pino loves teaching 3rd grade, for she believes 3rd graders contain an innate curiosity to explore the world around them. “They’re of the age,” she asserts, “that they not only begin to question more, but understand more.”
For Mrs. Pino, Jackson Hole Classical Academy is a special place to engage this curiosity due to the school’s emphasis on teaching the whole child. Her goal is to engage students’ curiosity in such a way that not only values academic achievement, but character and moral formation as well.
When speaking ofher personal formation, Mrs. Pino pointed to the influence of her father, who was a pastor and missionary. His teaching and outreach had a global impact. He taught both in the United States and abroad, and helped found orphanages and schools in impoverished countries. At home, their family frequently hosted foreign missionaries.
As a result of her father’s global involvement, Mrs. Pino was encouraged from an early age to explore places and cultures different than her own. In one instance, she lived seven months as a short-term missionary in a small village outside of Heidelberg, Germany, where she gained proficiency in German. Similar travel experiences have instilled in Mrs. Pino what she refers to as a ‘missional mindset’ - a mentality that recalls the world is much larger than our most immediate circumstances.
Her love of exploration has also fostered an affinity for nature and wildlife. In Richmond, Mrs. Pino and her family owned a horse farm. Now in Jackson, the Pino family is excited to discover the countless outdoor opportunities the area provides.
Miss Sarah McWhorter
University of Oklahoma, BFA Graphic Design
4th Grade Language Arts, 4th Grade History, 1st-5th Grade Art
Miss Sarah McWhorter has over ten years of teaching experience. Drawing on her own K-12 classical education and the wisdom of her mother’s teaching experience of more than 30 years, she strives to engender in her students a deeper sense of wonder in each of those disciplines and to create a rich experience in the classroom. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Miss McWhorter spent the first part of her teaching career there. She enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, and all that life in Jackson has to offer.
“It is a privilege to be at JH Classical Academy. The material taught here draws students in and fosters in them a deeper curiosity about, and appreciation for, the world. Not only do I have the joy of witnessing this growth in students, but I am also constantly encouraged in my own intellectual and personal growth through my relationships here at the Academy.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Miss Sarah McWhorter came to Jackson after teaching for eight years at the West Dallas Community School. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in graphic design and minors in art history and French. She then worked for six years as a graphic designer. She says, “I thought I wanted to go the ‘practical route’ with art, but I discovered that teaching was my real calling. Building a relationship with a student, knowing her as a whole person, is simply worlds away from providing services to a design client.”
With a strong background in art, Miss McWhorter appreciates JH Classical Academy’s motto of truth, beauty, and goodness. She states, “Classical education brings us back to the best of our roots. It’s important to know where we’ve come from, especially through history and art.”
She finds deep meaning in seeing how art impacts students’ lives. “I don’t think I could go back to anything else after teaching,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like watching students come to love great painting and drawing, and then to build their own skills with ink or paint. It’s a joy.”
When teaching about Giotto, for example, she reads to the students about Giotto's childhood as a shepherd and an aspiring artist. She then takes the students outside to draw on natural surfaces with natural materials such as charcoal and chalk, just like Giotto did, sketching things a shepherd might see in his day-to-day life such as trees, sheep and birds. She says, “This approach grabs the students’ imaginations and engages all of their senses. They begin to understand and feel Giotto’s art in a meaningful way.”
The decision to move from Dallas wasn’t easy for Miss McWhorter. She is close to her family and has built important friendships over the years. She says, “I love my family and friends in Dallas, but I have also experienced such a strong community at JHCA. I could really sense the wonderful relationships between the teachers and families at the school.”
Miss McWhorter has found inspiration and guidance in teaching through her mother, who has been a kindergarten teacher for twenty-five years. She came to JHCA to share her years of wisdom and acquired expertise. In particular, she has helped our faculty enhance the K-4th grade Nature Study program.
In her spare time, Miss McWhorter enjoys swing dancing and gardening. Miss McWhorter is well-seasoned in outdoor activities; she hiked the Appalachian Trail eight years ago. The easy access to the mountains in Jackson fulfills her long-term desire to live somewhere close to nature.
Mrs. Corey Gildersleeve
Colby College, B.A., Biology and Environmental Science Johns Hopkins University, M.S., Secondary Math and Science Education
Born and raised in Connecticut, Mrs. Gildersleeve attended Colby College in Maine, where she earned her B.A. in biology and environmental science. Following graduation, she taught in the Miami-Dade County public school system through Teach for America, earning the prestigious Thomas Eaton Prize for Science Teaching. She earned an M.S. in secondary math and science education from John Hopkins University. Mrs. Gildersleeve made the move cross-country with her husband, Burton, and daughters, Vera and Jane. She and her husband enjoy embracing the many unique aspects of living in the West and enjoy spending time in the outdoors.
Mrs. Corey Gildersleeve received her BA in biology and environmental science from Colby College (Maine), and her M.S. in secondary math and science education from John Hopkins University. She has seven years of instructional experience including biology from the remedial to the collegiate level and as the director of a math learning center. Mrs. Gildersleeve was ranked as a “Highly Effective Teacher” by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and was named as a recipient of the Thomas Easton Prize for Science Teaching. Her experience also includes the esteemed Teach for America Corps.
Mrs. Gildersleeve strongly believes that the role of a teacher extends beyond the classroom. “During my years in the classroom, I was very intentional about relationship building, from memorizing my students’ names before the year began to having an open door policy during my lunch and planning periods,” she writes. Her involvement with students extends to the court as well, having served as the head volleyball coach for two years at Miami Norland Senior High in Florida. She adds, “As a Christian and as an educator, I strongly believe that you must educate the whole child – this includes guiding their development academically, socially, and spiritually.”
Mrs. Gildersleeve was introduced to the Academy through her brother-in-law, John, who taught here in 2015-16. She and her husband look forward to their new life in Jackson Hole with their two daughters, and embracing the unique aspects of living in the West.
Mrs. Sarah Walter
Sewanee: The University of the South, B.A., Classical Studies
5th Grade Homeroom, 5th Grade Language Arts, 5th Grade Geography, 1st-5th Grade Latin, Cross Country Coach
Mrs. Sarah Walter, a founding teacher at JH Classical Academy, is passionate about sharing her love of the Classics with students. As part of her education at Sewanee: The University of the South, Mrs. Walter had the opportunity to travel to Turkey and Greece to study the history of those regions. She enjoys bringing that knowledge and experience to her students. Additionally, Mrs. Walter has received specialized training in TPR (Total Physical Response) Latin, which brings Latin alive for her students. When she is not in the classroom, Mrs. Walter enjoys singing, traveling, reading, hiking, and running.
“I love working with a team of coworkers that truly devote themselves wholeheartedly to the students at our school - as well as to each other. There is such a strong sense of service here, and a great dedication to a shared purpose.”
Mrs. Sarah Walter majored in Classical Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South. As part of her education she had the opportunity to travel to Turkey and Greece to study the history of those regions. She has three younger brothers, two of whom have graduated from the Naval Academy.
With a first-hand experience with the sites of the classical period, Mrs. Walter enjoys the ability to paint vivid images for her students or expand on textbook explanations of places and sites. She gives the students an experience of classical culture by telling stories in Latin of ancient myth and history. She not only instructs the vocabulary and grammar of Latin and the facts of ancient history, but daily teaches immersive Latin classes at JH Classical Academy, telling stories purely in the ancient language.
Latin forms the roots of many modern languages, and Mrs. Walter believes that the foundation students at JH Classical Academy receive will prepare them well for either advanced Latin or modern languages in high school.
Mrs. Walter enjoys teaching Latin at both the elementary and middle school levels. “Each age has its own strengths,” she says, “the younger students absorb vocabulary quickly, while older students understand grammar much more easily.” Mrs. Walter's knowledge of classical stories and myth allow her to captivate the young students and give a context to the new language they are learning.
Mrs. Walter's favorite aspect of Roman culture is its self-control. “The Romans were incredibly disciplined.” She says. “One can see it not only in their buildings and laws, but the language of Latin itself. It is very logical and follows rules. The Roman Republic embodied the kind of discipline that sets one up for success.” She adds that Romans were not only disciplined, but adaptable, expanding their empire and incorporating the disparate elements, reflecting the way Latin adapted over two millennia as the language of poetry, politics, law, medicine, science, and theology for many cultures and countries.
Mrs. Walter is heading the language curriculum mapping at JH Classical Academy and is very optimistic about the current state of the program. She says, “We have four Latin teachers (including Greek scholars) and a very strong program at the school. I look forward to eventually adding more grades, and reading Latin literature such as Cicero, Caesar, and Horace.”
In her spare time, she climbs the Tetons, runs marathons, reads the classics, and bakes. Mrs. Walter's steady and joyful presence is palpable around the school, as she embodies the character lessons of the ancient philosophers that she teaches.
Miss Laura McMillion
Baylor University, B.A.
University of Notre Dame, M.A., Biblical Studies
6th Grade Latin; Latin II, 7th Grade Ancient History, 7th Grade Literature and Composition, 7th Grade Typing
An Indiana native, Miss McMillion earned an M.A. from Notre Dame in Biblical Studies after studying classics at Baylor University. A fan of the out-of-doors who explored the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, where she previously taught, Miss McMillion had visited Jackson several times and was always struck with the beauty of the mountains and tranquility of the lakes. JHCA is a place where she can combine her passion for teaching the classics along with her outdoor interests. Miss McMillion is a competitive cyclist, an aspiring skier, an avid hiker, and when not pursuing athletic endeavors, loves to curl up and read a book.
An Indiana native, she earned an M.A. from Notre Dame in Biblical Studies after studying classics at Baylor University. She says, "I've had a broad education in philosophy, literature, and history, and this education has taught me how to examine the big questions that have faced people at all times and in all places. This came into sharper focus as I delved into the ancient languages of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac, and my thesis described how Augustine and Jerome's disagreements were shaped by the different translations each preferred."
A fan of the out-of-doors who explored the woods of North Carolina, where she has been teaching, Miss McMillion has visited Jackson several times and has always been struck with the beauty of the mountains and tranquility of the lakes. JHCA is a place where she can combine her passion for teaching the classics along with her outdoor interests.
Miss McMillion is a competitive cyclist, an aspiring skier, and an avid hiker. "My primary hobby is cycling, including cyclo-cross and racing." (Cyclo cross is a form of bicycle racing that features wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount and carry the bike.) A typically modest Hoosier, Miss McMillion must be pressed for specific accomplishments. She adds, "I recently competed in the Jefferson Cup Race and placed 7th. That's all right, but I'd like to be better!"
When not cycling, Miss McMillion spends her time reading. "I like to keep up with Latin and Greek. I also am constantly drawn back to the great novels. My favorite book is Crime and Punishment."
Miss McMillion was a research fellow at the Trinity Forum Academy, an institution that grants only 12 fellowships each year to outstanding young professionals, scholars and artists. The sanctuary-like facility, Osprey Point, is a meeting place for leading Washington, D.C. intellectuals.
"I love working with the outstanding faculty at JHCA," Miss McMillion says, "My goal is to always help students encounter - and hopefully fall in love with - literature and Latin the way I did!"
Mr. Elias King Naegele
University of Virginia, B.A., History
Advancement, 6th Grade Bridge Math, House Advisor
Born and raised in Virginia with his seven siblings, Mr. Elias King Naegele comes to Jackson Hole Classical Academy with a strong liberal arts education and experience in classical schools as both a teacher and an administrator. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Mr. Naegele was certified as a Wilderness First Responder and guided locally for Scenic Safaris before returning east. Back on the east coast, Mr. Naegele taught at the Avalon School in Gaithersburg, MD, for a year, before moving to Boston, MA to help found Sparhawk Academy, a liberal arts day school for boys. Mr. Naegele loves all things wild and is looking forward to once more partaking in the endless outdoor pursuits that the Valley offers.
“JHCA's mission of educating the whole person, mind, body, and spirit, and its constant pursuit of excellence drew me to the school. Coupled with a vibrant faculty, the opportunity to both teach at an institution like this and regularly engage with the Valley community, is truly a blessing.”
Mr. Elias Naegele brings a strong liberal arts education and experience in classical schools as both a teacher and administrator at Jackson Hole Classical Academy. Born and raised in Virginia with his seven siblings, he attended The Heights School, a liberal arts institution in Potomac, MD, along with his four brothers. Mr. Naegele then studied history at the University of Virginia.
Mr. Naegele's thesis was on his ancestor, John Paul Jones, an American naval hero during the Revolutionary War. "What most people don't know," Mr. Naegele says, "Is that after the Revolution, John Paul Jones achieved the rank of rear admiral under Catherine the Great, tsar of Russia, later dying in Paris, buried in a soon-to-be forgotten grave. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that he was found, exhumed, and re-buried on the grounds of the Naval Academy, in a ceremony presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt."
But Mr. Naegele did not spend all his time in college dredging up the lives and letters of obscure 18th century eccentrics. While attending the University, he started an intercollegiate club sport, team handball, which competed with highly competitive college club teams such as West Point’s. He also paid for college by driving transit buses in Charlottesville. In fact, he stayed for a year after college to overhaul the transit authority's training literature.
Mr. Naegele visited his older brother in Jackson during the summer of 2016 and decided to stay. After getting Wilderness First Responder training, he guided for Scenic Safaris on snowmobile and snowcoaches. The following summer, he guided ATV tours in the Gros Ventres as well as wildlife tours.
As much as he loved working outdoors in the valley, Mr. Naegele knew it was not his career. "Guiding in the outdoors is about teaching--something I've always loved, but I wanted to do more. And so I began to look for a position at a classical school." The next year Mr. Naegele taught at the Avalon School in Gaithersburg Maryland, a 220-student K-12 liberal arts school.
He then moved in 2017 to Boston to help launch Sparhawk Academy. He taught six classes, served on a board committee, and had administrative duties, including marketing, admissions, and event planning. With his experience in fresh classical schools, Mr. Naegele looks forward to his position as a teacher and advancement director at JHCA. "JHCA's mission of educating the whole person and its pursuit of excellence drew me to the school. In advancement, I look forward to being engaged with the community and getting support for the school."
Mr. Naegele is furthermore looking forward to living in Jackson once again. "I love all things wild and there's not an outdoor athletic endeavor I don't enjoy--boating, hiking, backpacking, and all the rest. Also, my 10 month-old puppy is a red setter, and I'm hoping to train her as a bird hunting dog."
Dr. David Wagner
Hillsdale College, B.S., Mathematics and French Indiana University, M.A., French Indiana University, Ph.D., French Literature and History
6th Grade Homeroom, 6th Grade Literature and Composition, 8th Grade Algebra I, 9th grade Geometry, Scheduling, Testing, Reporting Officer
An Ohio native, Dr. David Wagner’s extensive experience includes teaching a variety of French language courses and English literature courses for six years at the university level. He also taught high school English near Bordeaux, France. Dr. Wagner’s inspiration for teaching and love for learning come from his parents, both of whom were educators. At JH Classical Academy, Dr. Wagner’s knowledge and gift for teaching are put to good use in many areas. In recent summers, Dr. Wagner has managed programming for a Boy Scout camp near Cody, Wyoming. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Wagner enjoys hiking, travel and is active in his church as music director and organist.
“At JH Classical Academy, I have the opportunity to share my love of both literature and mathematics with my students. Each discipline gives us a unique ability to understand God, man, and creation, and it is a privilege to bring both subjects to life for middle- and high-school students. It thrills me to teach this range of ages, because I get to watch students deepen their critical thinking skills in exciting ways as they mature."
Early on, Dr. Wagner developed a special interest in math and French literature. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, double majoring in the two subjects dearest to his heart. After graduation, he taught English to French students at Langon High School in France for a year before continuing his studies in French. Dr. Wagner then went on to earn his doctorate at Indiana University in French Literature.
Because of his incredible base of knowledge, Dr. Wagner enjoys the diverse teaching assignments he has at JHCA. He says, “In Literature, I like helping students express themselves more clearly in writing and appreciate the beauty of literary texts.”
His enthusiasm naturally engages the students in middle school math, which combines logical reasoning and consumer math. He says, “It applies math to real life scenarios and is fundamentally interdisciplinary. The course reminds students of the pertinence of math to
other key components of our curriculum and will prepare our students towards higher level math.”
Dr. Wagner treasures “aha moments” that the course has brought over the year. He says, “For instance, when the students were working on loan interest, they suddenly realized, ‘Oh, wow! I have to pay $30,000 more than the actual price!’ It is a powerful way to have them realize the magnitude of savings and loans.”
Though born and raised in Ohio, Dr. Wagner knows Wyoming well. His love for the state developed over his seven summers working at Camp Buffalo Bill. He first worked as Nature Director and then as Program Director for this Boy Scout camp outside Cody. Over the summers, he has explored much of Yellowstone and visited every county in Wyoming. At camp, his duties have included teaching nature studies, planning events for the Scouts, and supervising and hiring camp staff. He leapt at the chance to return to Wyoming more permanently.
Given his love for the Wyoming wilderness, Dr. Wagner has not lost time enjoying Teton County. He enjoys hiking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter. When the weather gets too treacherous to go outside, Dr. Wagner delights his friends with creating delicious pies, cookies, and cheesecakes of all kinds.
Dr. Wagner has integrated further into the Jackson community through his skills as a pianist and organist. He has accompanied for numerous student recitals and performances in and outside of the school, including JHCA’s Christmas Concert. He is also the music director at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
His feeling of belonging in the Valley is closely connected to the community in Jackson Hole. He says, “It has been wonderful to find a community of teachers, families, and students who all work together. The strong community here has made me feel welcome and at home.”
Mr. Ian Landis
Pennsylvania State University, B.S., Elementary Education
Dean of Faculty; 5th Grade Science; 7th Grade Pre-Algebra
Mr. Ian Landis, a founding teacher at JH Classical Academy, enjoys teaching science and mathematics at multiple grade levels. Drawn to Wyoming to be near extended family, Mr. Landis has previously taught in Arizona as well as South Dakota. Mr. Landis’s logical approach to his teaching disciplines makes him a model of excellence in the classroom for his students. Mr. Landis enjoys riding his motorcycle, studying his Bible, and exploring the beauty of Wyoming with his wife and young son.
“I love seeing students mature in their learning, whether it be coming to love mathematics or science, or just deepening their understanding of the world around them. To love to learn is one of our highest aims, and to be able to guide students to this love through proper training and habit formation has been a blessing. I love coming to work every day, connecting with families in our community, and pointing students to what is true, good, and beautiful.”
Mr. Landis sees wonderful results from this course. He says, “The students appreciate being able to apply the math they are learning to practical, everyday life. They realize that what they’re learning will benefit them both immediately and in the future.”
The thing Mr. Landis loves most about teaching is how it reveals the interest and understanding of the students. “I love to see students excited about math and science,” he says. “There is nothing like seeing them have the ‘aha’ moment.” The shared experience and excitement Mr. Landis has with his classes is evident; he is a cheerful presence at school and clearly loves being in the classroom. “I always enjoyed being in school, even as a kid.” He says he will never forget his pre-calculus teacher who inspired him in high school. Math was Mr. Landis’ favorite subject. What he liked then is still what interests him now: “I’m fascinated by the patterns of math. Students can get the same solution in different ways.”
After earning his B.A. in education at Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Landis immediately began teaching mathematics. He taught at Mifflinburg Elementary in central Pennsylvania, at the Pierre Indian Learning Center in South Dakota, and at Superstition Mountain Middle School in Arizona.
Mr. Landis says teaching on the reservation was an excellent learning experience. “The school had really tough kids from broken homes, but it was wonderful to be an influence for good in their lives,” he says. Likewise, the school in Arizona was an impoverished Title 1 school in a challenging environment. Mr. Landis says that these teaching experiences taught him how to relate to students from all backgrounds and ability levels. He brings this range of experiences to bear when evaluating, tutoring, and creating placement tests.
As a child, Mr. Landis loved the outdoors, exploring the woods of his native PA. He played tennis in high school, as well as soccer and basketball. Moving to Jackson provided him the opportunity to experience the grandeur of nature in an amazing way. He incorporates local nature into his science classes as much as possible. Last year, Mr. Landis brought a beekeeper to speak to the 6th grade, and he led an outdoors nature observation field trip.
It had been Mr. Landis’ dream to move to Jackson for years, since the majority of his extended family moved to Jackson in the 70’s. The scenery has not disappointed. “I love being able to see God’s handiwork when seeing the Tetons and all the wildlife,” he says. “There’s never an ugly day in Jackson.”
Mr. Benjamin Walter
Haverford College, B.A., Latin and Greek University of Oxford, M.St., Latin and Greek
8th Grade Homeroom, 8th Grade Literature and Composition, Latin III, 7th and 8th Grade Art, Classical Officer, House Advisor
Mr. Benjamin Walter, a native of Pennsylvania, has been teaching at JH Classical Academy for four years. Mr. Walter strives to develop virtue in young men and women he teaches. As the oldest of six children who were classically homeschooled, Mr. Walter developed a deep love for art, ancient languages, and English literature. His approach to teaching in the classroom is inspired by his father, who has helped found and lead two classical schools. With a wide range of interests that include hiking, skiing, and landscape painting, Mr. Walter feels very much at home in Wyoming.
"I love having the opportunity to pursue truth, goodness, and beauty by being both a student and teacher of my disciplines. Seeing students challenged and transformed by books, art, or language is the most rewarding aspect of working at JH Classical Academy."
"I knew I would enjoy skiing and hiking in Wyoming, getting close to nature and the beauty of God’s creation,” said Mr. Benjamin Walter. “I immediately came to love the mountains and outdoor culture here. It’s a far cry from Main Line Philadelphia where I grew up." Mr. Walter received his Master’s degree from Oxford University. His studies began at Haverford College, where he received his Bachelor’s in Latin and Greek Language and Literature with a minor in political theory. Mr. Walter, like several other teachers at Jackson Hole Classical Academy, has close family members also dedicated to teaching. “I received classical homeschooling for K-12 and had tutors in Latin and art,” explained Mr. Walter. “My father was a pioneer in homeschool classical education in the Philadelphia area, and he taught us based on the classics, beginning Greek at age 6. We covered a great deal of poetry memorization, speech, and composition.” This approach to learning was deeply influential on Mr. Walter. “When I got to college, I was a strong writer, I could express myself clearly, and I had developed habits of autonomous time management.”
Mr. Walter attributes these skills to his foundation in classical education. “Poetry gives you a wellspring of ideas and words that are established and beautiful. The Psalms, for instance, can be drawn upon when words simply fail. Having an inventory of known lines and expressions teaches students how to recognize and use a good turn of phrase.” Mr. Walter shares his knowledge inside and outside of his own classroom. Just before the Christmas holiday, Mr. Walter visited the 4th grade class to join in their Wassailing songs and to recite the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V for their medieval unit. “I enjoy being in the classroom and being able to introduce great literature to students for the first time,” he shared. “I enjoy watching them understand it and hearing their often unexpected interactions with the literature.” Mr. Walter is also a talented artist with a particular interest in oil landscapes. His work has been auctioned off at the Plein Air Festival at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Mr. Theodore Sawyer
Hillsdale College, B.A., Greek Language and English Literature
11th Grade Homeroom, 11th Grade Humane Letters, Latin I, 5th Grade History, House Advisor
With a double degree in Greek and English literature, Mr. Teddy Sawyer brings a strong classical background and a passion for literature to Jackson Hole Classical Academy. Mr. Sawyer has fully embraced living in the Jackson area, where he enjoys running, climbing, and other outdoor activities. In the community, Mr. Sawyer plays the oboe in the Jackson Hole Band and sings in the choir at the Episcopal Church. He also spends time reading and translating to expand his multi-language proficiency that includes Spanish, Old English, Latin, and Greek.
"After receiving a copy of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, I was thrilled to share this book with students and colleagues. Their excitement demonstrates a love of learning that our community seeks to cultivate."
Mr. Teddy Sawyer’s legendary enthusiasm as a teacher makes the 1st conjugation exciting and the Latin case system memorable. Students continue conversations from his 5th grade history and literature classes at the lunch table and recess.
The interest Mr. Sawyer creates comes from an ability to teach complex ideas and literature at an approachable level. He interrelates historical events or challenging vocabulary with other subjects and the students' own experiences.
“I love making history and literature come alive for students,” explains Mr. Sawyer. “The best part about teaching is taking old things and making them brilliantly new and exciting for children.”
The ability to teach subjects by referencing other disciplines comes from Mr. Sawyer’s own liberal arts education. He attended Hillsdale College and majored in Ancient Greek and English Literature. Mr. Sawyer also has read widely in history, Latin, Spanish, and math. He muses, “I find Greek lyric poetry specifically engaging because it is both simple and complex. The language of the poems is very complex, but the poems themselves are compact and contain wisdom that is relevant today.”
Mr. Sawyer also enjoyed Old English literature, especially Beowulf, in college. He explains,
“Old English literature combines paganism and Christianity while maintaining the tension between them. This sort of combination is difficult to grasp but important in our understanding not just of Beowulf, but of all great literature.” In a similar manner, the combination of Classical and Christian at JHCA preserves the best of ancient Greek and Roman wisdom within the context of Christianity.
Mr. Sawyer finds the variety in the liberal arts were integral to his own academic development. He appreciates how JH Classical Academy allows teachers to be interdisciplinary. He shares, “I can give a broad understanding because the school allows teachers to connect ideas across disciplines.”
Before coming to Jackson Hole, Mr. Sawyer taught in St. Louis and Arizona. He finds great satisfaction at finally being able to teach at a Classical school that cares deeply for each student and acknowledges that each child is created in the image of God.
Mr. Sawyer relates, “One of my favorite things about JHCA is the small class sizes. We as teachers can really pour into each student. Having fifteen or fewer students per class also allows us to teach challenging material. I am able to interest each student without losing the overarching goal of the course. In my previous teaching assignment, I had three classes of 33 students each and I couldn’t get to know the students individually.”
When not teaching or reading voraciously, Mr. Sawyer is an avid skier, swing dancer, and oboist. He is extraordinarily pleased to live in Jackson and says, “It’s like nowhere else I’ve ever lived. There is access to the outdoors all year round. Not only that, but the small community means that there are ample opportunities for being a significant part of the culture here in Jackson.”
Mrs. Rachel Greb
Hillsdale College, B.A., Christian Studies Knox Theological Seminary, M.A., Christian and Classical Studies
Dean of Academic Affairs
9th Grade Humane Letters, 6th Grade American History, 4th Grade World History & Geography, Curriculum Officer
A Midwest native and cofounder of a classical Christian school in the Detroit area, Mrs. Rachel Greb brings her experience and love of teaching to JH Classical Academy. Mrs. Greb’s commitment to the ideals of the true, the good, and the beautiful inform her vision for excellence in the classroom as well as in leading professional development for educators. An avid reader, Mrs. Greb’s particular interests in literature are the exploration of human nature through story, and man’s relationship with his Creator. Mrs. Greb and her husband have five children, and in her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, baking, walking, and playing the piano.
“I was drawn first to JH Classical by the rich curriculum in every academic discipline. But what sets it apart is the commitment of the faculty, staff, and administration not only to instilling virtue in the students, but also their commitment to modeling virtue in their personal and professional lives. My experience here so far has exceeded my expectations!”
Mrs. Greb considers herself “a true Midwesterner.” She was born in Wisconsin, moved to Iowa, then to Illinois, and finally attended Hillsdale College in Michigan. She met her husband Jason at Hillsdale and they married two weeks after graduation. He is an engineer—her background is in Christian studies and Classics with a B.A. and two Masters in the subjects. The Grebs have three children in college, as well as two adopted Chinese girls in elementary school.
In 2011, Mrs. Greb founded Oakdale Academy in Michigan. During her stint as head of school until 2015, and then as Dean of Academics, she built a thriving K-12 classical school. In 2015, Oakdale Academy was the first ever school in Michigan to receive the $25,000 Salvatori Prize for outstanding teaching from Hillsdale College.
Throughout her time at Oakdale Academy, Mrs. Greb effectively communicated the vision of classical education. In an essay on the purpose of classical education she wrote, “Paideia carries with it the notion that education is the shaping of character, the development of intellect, and the cultivation of virtue in a child, which takes place over the course years and which enables him to have a well-ordered life.”
Mrs. Greb has lead professional development for teachers and parent seminars on classical education. Her greatest love, however, is teaching classical literature to high school students. Her favorite two works in particular are Homer’s Odyssey and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. “The Odyssey is a beautiful epic about the pursuit of love and home for twenty years,” she says. “The students can’t help but appreciate it. Despite his flaws, Odysseus is a magnetic character.”
The Grebs are thrilled to be in Jackson Hole. “My husband and I are so excited it has worked out for us to be able to join the Jackson community, and especially the Classical Academy.”
Mrs. Christa Carson
Messiah College, B.A. Physics, with Secondary Teaching Certification
Originally from New Jersey, Mrs. Christa Carson teaches math and sciences at Jackson Hole Classical Academy. Having previously taught physics and chemistry to high school students, as well as summer courses with Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, Mrs. Carson embraces science and math as sources for inspiring wonder in students. Mrs. Carson and her husband, Thomas Carson, an engineer with the National Parks Service, share a love for the outdoors.
“I was attracted to Jackson Hole Classical Academy by the intentionality with which the educators, administration, and staff approach their roles. I am excited to be a part of a team that cares for the whole child and creates an atmosphere of learning and curiosity.”
Mrs. Christa Carson grew up in New Jersey near Atlantic City. She then moved to Pennsylvania to attend Messiah College, a small liberal arts college with a strong engineering program. “I fell in love with everything about it instantly.” There she majored in Physics and earned a teaching certification.
Mrs. Carson said that she had always enjoyed science. It was not until college, however, that she began to understand how science was connected to philosophy and religion. She says, “I really appreciated the books I read and the conversations I had with my professors regarding science and faith. As the Cambridge professor John Polkinghorne once remarked, ‘Science and faith work in tandem like the two lenses of a pair of binoculars.’”
After graduation Mrs. Carson did a year of service with the Episcopal Service Corps. She coordinated curriculum for a non-profit in Harrisburg that provided technology for schools in order to increase STEAM literacy and creativity through extra-curricular programs.
Subsequently, Mrs. Carson taught at Harrisburg Christian School for two years. Her courses included high school physics, chemistry, and engineering. She was also a robotics coach and got to travel with the school’s team to state competitions.
Mrs. Carson enjoys making science come alive in the classroom with plenty of real-life analogies and Socratic questions. She says, “I love getting students who think they don’t like science to realize that science is everywhere, and it is fascinating.” When not at work, Mrs. Carson hikes and spends time in the outdoors. She also likes to read.
Mrs. Carson’s husband Thomas is an engineer for the National Parks Service. The two met during physics lab in college and have been dating ever since those study sessions. They married and in 2018 and began life together in Jackson Hole!
Ms. Manjola Koci
Anna Maria College, B.M., Music Education New England Conservatory of Music, M.M., Musicology
Born and educated as a child in Albania, Ms. Manjola Koci moved to the United States in 1995. Ms. Koci’s rich experience in teaching previous to JH Classical Academy includes over a decade of music instruction. She also worked as a Music Curriculum Advisor for a large charter school network in Arizona. In her free time, Ms. Koci enjoys reading, attending the Grand Teton Music Festival, and traveling.
“I love working at JH Classical Academy because, through the mission and vision, we represent a culture, and our task is to pass on the wisdom of the Western Tradition to our students. We all, as students and teachers, are challenged to fully understand and embrace truth, goodness and beauty.”
Ms. Manjola Koci grew up in Communist Albania and moved to the United States when she was sixteen. She then studied music at the undergraduate and graduate level. Now a beloved veteran of her vocation, Miss Koci has filled many roles at JHCA, including music teacher and Dean of Faculty.
Thinking back on her own childhood, Ms. Koci credits her passion for Classical Education to her parents, who were both doctors and had a large collection of books. They encouraged her to play music and read books. Now that she has the opportunity, Miss Koci fully pursues this love of the liberal arts.
She says, “I am thirsty to read. I’m a life-long learner. There is an infinite amount to learn from Western culture.” She reads a wide variety of history and fiction to feed her perpetual desire to grow in new disciplines and ways.
Ms. Koci holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Anna Maria College in Massachusetts and a graduate degree in Musicology from the New England Conservatory of Music. She joined JHCA after teaching music for nine years at Great Hearts Academies in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, she served as a Music Curriculum Advisor for Great Hearts Academies.
Music is more than just an academic discipline for Miss Koci; it is a way of understanding human emotion and the world around her. She sees music as philosophy expressed through an ethereal and beautiful medium. Miss Koci’s favorite composer is Beethoven.
“Beethoven took music to an absolutely new level,” she says. “He broke the rules in order to free music from the constraints of his time and truly connected music and philosophy. Listen to his Concerto in E-flat major No. 5 and you will understand why Beethoven is so great!” Ms. Koci’s music interests also include Renaissance madrigals, Baroque violin concertos, Classical piano concertos, and Romantic lieder.
Ms. Koci enthusiastically supports the mission of JHCA. “We represent a culture, and our task is to pass on the wisdom of the Western Tradition to our students,” she articulated. “We all, as students and teachers, are challenged to fully understand and embrace truth, goodness, and beauty. We have a high view of humanity.”
Besides teaching, Ms. Koci enjoys the meaningful interactions throughout the day with the students and faculty members. She especially enjoys lunch conversations with students, saying, “It’s nice to hear their perspectives on what’s happening in class and outside of school.” Similarly, she loves seeing the students’ happy faces at drop-off and their excitement upon seeing parents at pick-up. Miss Koci also appreciates the support and engagement that comes from the other faculty.
During her time at JHCA, Ms. Koci has developed the 8th Grade Medieval History class. “I’ve found Medieval History challenging and exciting,” she says. “Events are multi-layered. The students get to explore deep questions and content. For instance, they are currently learning about the rise of nation state and considering the roots of national sovereignty.”
Ms. Koci enjoys the beauty and quiet of living in Jackson. “I love going for walks and hikes,” she says. “It is incredible to see the beautiful nature here and enjoy the wonderful views God has given us.”
Mr. Samuel Lunz
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, B.S., Exercise Science and Biology Texas State University, M.A., Exercise Science
Coach Samuel Lunz is originally from San Marcos, Texas, where his father has been a headmaster of a private school for 40 years. His sixteen years of teaching experience have given him a deep love for the art of teaching. In particular, Coach Lunz is eager to see his students embody the same virtues on the field or court that are incorporated into every aspect of the classroom at JH Classical Academy. In the community, Coach Lunz serves as the head basketball coach of Jackson Hole High School. Coach Lunz and his wife have embraced life in Jackson Hole and are enjoying raising their family in this community.
“I love teaching at Jackson Hole Classical Academy because of the high character and quality of the faculty, staff, leadership, and families. It is by far the best place I have taught because of the focus on in-depth curriculum and teaching, the pursuit of truth, and the development of each student as a whole person created in the image of God.”
Coach Lunz says, “My dad is my biggest influence as far as teaching goes. I watched many of his former students come back and tell him how much of an influence he had on them. I got to see firsthand the long-term rewards of teaching.” The family dedication to teaching shines through in Coach Lunz’s enthusiasm with his students at JH Classical Academy.
Coach Lunz moved to Jackson Hole from Buda, Texas, where he coached 6A high school—the highest level in the state. He’s been enthusiastically welcomed by both JH Classical Academy Coach as physical education teacher, and Jackson Hole High School, as the new high school basketball coach.
Despite a successful coaching career in Texas, Coach Lunz and his family longed for the mountains and a small, welcoming community. “I love everything outdoors,” Lunz says, “and all our holidays were spent in the mountains. We really wanted to live in the mountains someday.” Lunz is an avid fly-fisherman and hunter. Jackson Hole has everything he and his family was looking for. Now he and his wife Becky are focusing on doing activities with their 5-year-old and 3-year-old. “It’s a wonderful place to raise our children in the kind of healthy lifestyle that we want for them.”
When Coach Lunz heard about the positions open at Jackson Hole High School and JH Classical Academy, he and his wife made a decisive choice. “Moving from Texas was a real leap of faith,”
he says, “but we definitely decided to move.” Not only was the location perfect, but his two roles as coach and teacher provide outlets for his many talents.
Coach Lunz also contributes to the community as the head basketball coach for Upward Sports in Jackson Hole. Upward is a national Christian organization to train young bodies, minds, and souls through sports. Lunz says, “I am looking forward to Upward. Anytime you can mix two of my favorite things, basketball and Jesus, I can't help but get excited!”
Coach Lunz has expressed enthusiasm to further discover JH Classical Academy, saying, “The philosophy of classical education just makes sense. It’s wonderful to work at a school where tried-and-true methods that work are still being used.” He is excited to continue in his position as physical education instructor, teaching students the fundamentals of health and fitness, while making exercise engaging at all levels.
Mrs. Elizabeth Birnie
Wheaton College (Massachusetts), BA Montana State University, MA Ed
Marketing Director; K-6 Art
Mrs. Birnie, an Atlanta, Georgia native, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she double majored in studio art and art history. She has taught pre-school in Wilson as well as ski school at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. She completed teacher certification for K-12 Art Instruction through Montana State University's Northern Plains program and earned her M.A. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University.
Drawing and painting have been a part of Mrs. Elizabeth Birnie’s whole life. She remembers always having a sketchbook in hand while growing up in Atlanta, Georgia. Her family loved art, opera, classical music, and Western Arts and Culture. This upbringing, combined with her training in art, provide her a most suitable foundation to serve as a teacher at JHCA.
After emphasizing art in high school, Mrs. Birnie earned her B.A. from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she double majored in studio art and art history. She completed teacher certification for K-12 Art Instruction through Montana State University's Northern Plains program and earned her M.A. in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University.
While in college, Mrs. Birnie studied abroad in Cortona, Italy. Here she was able to absorb the sculpture, architecture, and painting that flood the city. In her teaching, Mrs. Birnie weaves expertise in art and art history with personal experience and enthusiasm.
When Mrs. Birnie moved to Jackson in 2009, she taught preschool in Wilson and worked as a ski instructor. She says that she especially enjoyed teaching children to learn how to ski. At this time, she also took Outdoor Emergency Care Course and became a volunteer ski patrol member at Snow King.
As a child, Mrs. Birnie attended The Paideia School in Atlanta. She appreciated not just the strong academics, but also the emphasis on service to others and virtue. “I have a desire to teach students to learn, love, and become better people, so that they can be a force for good in our community.”
Mrs. Birnie believes strongly in the importance of training students’ hearts and minds, and she has developed a deep respect for the ability of classical education to transform students. Mrs. Birnie says, “I’m so happy to find a place where I can teach with the same values I treasured in my own education.”
Mrs. Birnie values the partnership of Christian and Classical ideals at JHCA. She says, “I grew up in the Christian faith so wanted to be part of Christian community. It is wonderful to work at a school where we can share and strengthen each other in faith. The relationships built among the teachers at JHCA are so important to me.” She also loves the environment at JHCA that allows students and teachers to flourish. She says, “I appreciate the warm learning environment. Both teachers and students feel welcome and comfortable.”
When not teaching, Mrs. Birnie enjoys living in a small town and being in the mountains. She spends much of her leisure time skiing and fishing with her husband Brendon. She also paints in watercolors, especially landscape and still life subjects.
Mr. Burton Gildersleeve
Colby College, B.A., Latin American Studies & Spanish
Digital Marketing; 11th Grade Spanish; High School Coordinator; House Advisor
Mr. Burton Gildersleeve grew up in Chatham, New Jersey and attended Colby College in Maine, where he double majored in Latin American studies and Spanish. After college, Mr. Gildersleeve worked in Miami as a supply chain consultant for clothing companies and their production facilities in Latin America. Mr. Gildersleeve has also worked to jumpstart the online marketing for small business owners by writing and designing content on their websites. In his spare time, Burton likes exploring the outdoors with his wife Corey and two daughters, Vera and Jane.
Mr. Burton Gildersleeve grew up in Chatham, New Jersey and attended Colby College in Maine, where he double majored in Latin American studies and Spanish. For Mr. Gildersleeve, Spanish is not just a college major, it's something he uses in his job every day. The language is also his hobby and passion. "I love the Spanish language and learning about its variations, linguistic and cultural, around Europe and Latin America."
After college, Mr. Gildersleeve worked in Miami as a supply chain consultant for clothing companies and their production facilities in Latin America. Mr. Gildersleeve states, "My job was to ensure that the company's workflow was properly implemented at the factory." Mr. Gildersleeve has also worked to jumpstart the online marketing of small craftsmen, including woodworkers and a hunting knife maker, by writing and designing content on their websites. Now he is excited to move to a new location and find a new application for his expertise.
The most important aspect of the Academy for Mr. Gildersleeve is its intentional culture. "The leadership and teachers at JH Classical Academy want to do everything, in a God-honoring way that fosters a healthy learning environment. The Academy also constantly strives to teach the best literature, math, music, and art rather than become distracted by the mediocre or the ephemeral."
Mr. Gildersleeve avidly reads classic literature. His favorite book is Jane Eyre. Why? "The first couple chapters are some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. The way that Jane Eyre shows humble resilience through all her hardships and becomes tough but not abrasive or hardened is truly inspiring. We named our daughter Jane after Jane Eyre. "
Mr. Gildersleeve sees the path of a teacher as one of constant learning. He is ambitious about his goals for increasing his own knowledge in the coming year. "I'm excited to dig into the Greek and Roman classics as I teach Spanish and communicate the Academy's vision to the community." Also, he is eager to participate in teaching a curriculum that focuses on texts that shaped Western civilization.
In his spare time, Mr. Gildersleeve likes spending time and exploring the outdoors with his wife Corey and two daughters, Vera and Jane.
Miss Julia Dwyer
Chapman University, B.M., Vocal Performance
New England Conservatory, M.M., Vocal Performance
K-8 Music; Event Support
Miss Dwyer started piano training at the age of 5 and and voice at the age of 12. While a student at Chapman University, Miss Dwyer taught music theory and directed musicals at her former high school, as well as offering private voice lessons. After Miss Dwyer received her M.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), she taught music to underprivileged students in the San Bernardino school district. Miss Dwyer has performed in numerous operas, including Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and La Nozze di Figaro, though she says her favorite role was Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. While not singing or playing instruments, Miss Dwyer enjoys reading and hiking.
"My favorite thing about teaching is watching my students grow. I strive to create a positive and encouraging environment in which students are free to question, explore, and create. The moment I love most is when a student takes the tools or knowledge provided and creates something truly beautiful."
When Miss Julia Dwyer first visited the Valley on a family trip several years ago, she thought it would be a wonderful place to live yet never dreamed that such a thing would become a reality. But with the mountains calling, Miss Dwyer is thrilled to join Jackson Hole Classical Academy this year, and looks forward to bringing the halls and hills to life with the sound of her music.
Originally from Brea, California in sunny Orange County, where she grew up with two older brothers, Miss Dwyer began learning to play the piano at the age of 5 and has trained vocally since the age of 12. As she grew older, she developed a passion for education, beginning to teach at music summer camps toward the end of high school. During her time at Chapman University, Miss Dwyer continued to teach, instructing students in musical theory and directing musicals at her former high school, Brea Olinda, as well as offering private voice lessons.
Following her graduation from Chapman University, Miss Dwyer enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), where she continued to hone her singing voice and quickly fell for the small-town feel of Boston. After completing her M.M. from NEC, Miss Dwyer returned to Orange County, where she taught music to underprivileged students in the San Bernardino school district.
Throughout her time at Chapman and NEC, Miss Dwyer performed in numerous operas, including Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and La Nozze di Figaro, though she says her favorite role was Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
Always interested in the humanities and classical studies, Miss Dwyer is excited to share her love of music, vocally and instrumentally, with Jackson Hole Classical Academy. Aside from the obvious benefits of location, she says, “the mission of the school and especially the people,” were deciding factors in her move to the Valley, and she is looking forward to “creating music with the students.”
While not singing or playing instruments, Miss Dwyer enjoys reading and hiking and is hoping to take advantage of the many outdoor pursuits that Jackson Hole offers while immersing herself in the Jackson and school communities.
Mr. Timothy Grupp
Mr. Grupp shares his lifelong passion for playing and teaching chess at Jackson Hole Classical Academy. Learning to play chess at only four years old, he became the Southern California elementary state champion in 6th grade. Mr. Grupp began teaching chess privately in 8th grade. As a black belt in multiple martial arts, Mr. Grupp is assisting in instructing students in personal defense in the Practical Arts curriculum. Outside the classroom, Mr. Grupp trains in personal defense and enjoys being a solo world traveler.
"I am blessed to have the privilege to teach chess, one of my passions, to such a gifted and joyous group of students. I love having the ability to share a unique set of skills to the students of Jackson Hole Classical Academy; they are both eager to learn and rewarding to teach."
He defeated the then-Montana state champion and has beaten collegiate state champions in unofficial matches. Mr. Grupp is no stranger to teaching; as early as high school, he was earning money as a private chess coach.
Mr. Grupp has worked for the past five years in systems software, IT, and finance at his family’s firm, Grupp Financial. He took up golf at age ten with the Nike Academy; today he has a single-digit handicap. He is also a martial arts enthusiast, having trained with a top Koden Kan trainer, and he has even participated in a seminar taught by Chuck Norris.
Mr. Grupp brings expertise and vision to the chess program at JH Classical Academy. He notes: “These students have excellent raw talent, and they are mastering basic tactics. As I map out specific goals of knowledge for each level of instruction, my goal will be to raise their awareness of the game a step above tactics, to provide them insight into the overarching framework of strategy.”
“Chess is far more than just a game,” according to Mr. Grupp. “It is one of the most rigorous ways to improve critical and analytical thinking. The powers of visualization are trained, as a player must imagine a move—and then all the possible reactions to that move—before playing it.” Mr. Grupp can play two games simultaneously in his head! He is modest about this feat of mental gymnastics, remarking, “Our minds can do a lot when we train them.”
Mr. Grupp says the most memorable game of chess he ever played was his 4th game in the elementary regional championship. He was in serious trouble, down a bishop and a couple of
pawns. In order to win the championship, he needed to win this game. He began playing quickly and flustered his opponent. In a short time, he was able to force a checkmate with his knight. However, he says the tactically best game of chess he ever played was when he was eighteen years old, which he fondly remembers as the first time he beat his chess coach. When he later ran the moves in a computer, the results showed that it was close to a flawless game.
Mr. Grupp periodically hosts a chess night for JH Classical Academy students. Come by to say hello and learn the game of chess, or acquire some advanced techniques from an expert!
Jackson Hole Classical Academy P.O. Box 7466 Jackson, WY 83002
Nondiscrimination Policy: Jackson Hole Classical Academy admits students of any gender, race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students. Jackson Hole Classical Academy does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, tuition assistance, athletic, arts or other school administrated programs.