In addition to our talented teachers, we have a handful of dedicated and equally talented staff members helping us behind the scenes.
List of 6 items.
Ms. Betsy Davis
Tulane University, BS
Miss Betsy Davis grew up in Long Island, New York, and studied geology and environmental science at Tulane University. Since graduation, Ms. Davis has held numerous roles in schools including as a science, math and outdoor education teacher, but also as a Registrar and Database Manager. Before settling in the Valley in the fall of 2017, Betsy had been a regular visitor numerous times for vacation and NOLS training. She is thrilled to work at Jackson Hole Classical Academy while pursuing her love of the outdoors.
Ms. Betsy Davis brings a background in teaching and school administration to Jackson Hole Classical Academy. She works as both a registrar and IT manager for the Academy. Ms. Davis grew up in Long Island, New York and attended the Ethel Walker School in Connecticut. She then received her Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Tulane University with a minor in environmental studies
After college, Ms. Davis moved to New Jersey to teach at Barnstable Academy and then at Montclair Kimberley Academy for five years, where she was a STEM and outdoor education teacher, while coaching soccer, softball, and tennis. When her daughter was born, she left Montclair and for the next eighteen years tutored and substitute-taught.
In 2010, Ms. Davis began working at the 970-student Princeton Day School as a registrar, student database manager, AP and PSAT coordinator and lower school scheduler. Ms. Davis sometimes misses the interactions with students that her earlier teaching career afforded. She says, “I enjoyed getting to know students; that is what I most loved about being in the classroom.”
However, she has found great purpose in school administration as well. “I like detail-oriented tasks and having projects to tackle. I found that my administrative work is similar to putting a puzzle together. I like to fix problems, especially ones where you can see if you’ve solved it.”
“It’s no accident that I moved out to Jackson,” Ms. Davis says. In fact, her first memories of the area are from a family vacation when she was nine years old. From there she has visited the valley every few years. “When I was sixteen, my father convinced me to attend Teton Valley Ranch Camp, which was in Kelly at the time. I just fell in love with Jackson. Ever since, I have always wanted to be here.”
Ms. Davis is skilled in both the science and the practical side of the outdoors. She says, “I took my first NOLS course in 1981 in the Wind River Range, then another in 1987 in Alaska.” In the past five years, she completed NOLS Alumni courses in Italy, Ireland, and Wind River Range. Ms. Davis loves to pursue her passion for the outdoors Jackson. “Moving from New Jersey was a big change, but I knew I liked the area. Now that my children are grown it’s my big adventure!”
Miss Sarah Knight
University of Georgia, BS
Miss Sarah Knight was born and raised in Georgia, having lived in both Columbus and Atlanta. She studied childhood development at Ole Miss and then transferred to the University of Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science. She then spent the next seven years in Atlanta teaching kindergarten and spending most of her summer breaks working in Jackson. During that time, Miss Knight learned what is now one of her favorite hobbies, fly fishing and in 2016, she moved to Jackson to live year-round. Miss Knight also enjoys skiing, cooking, and traveling.
Upon arriving at JH Classical, guests, students, and faculty are greeted by Miss Sarah Knight’s friendly smile at the front desk. Whether she is answering the phone, tending to students who need a band aid, or supporting the faculty and administration in myriad ways, Miss Knight’s friendly demeanor makes everyone feel welcome.
Born in Atlanta and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Miss Knight spent a total of eight summers in the Jackson area before moving finding the courage to never leave! “When I was in college, I came out to Jackson to work at a ranch over the summer and I fell in love with the Tetons,” she said.
Miss Knight studied childhood development at Ole Miss and then transferred to the University of Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science. After graduating, she spent seven years in Atlanta teaching pre-kindergarten while continuing to spend her summers in the Valley, picking up one of her favorite hobbies, fly fishing. When pressed to divulge her favorite fishing spot, Miss Knight declined to answer with a smile. “Good fishermen keep their favorite spot a secret.” In addition to fly fishing, Miss Knight enjoys cooking, traveling, and skiing.
Ms. Dena Mertz
Armstrong State University, B.A, Health Services and Administration
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS
Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Ms. Mertz owned and operated her own dinner and sight-seeing boat by the age of 21. This early experience laid the foundation for her eventual ownership of a boating company of 250+ employees. Following her experience in the boating industry, Ms. Mertz served as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). At SCAD, Ms. Mertz quickly learned higher education protocol, and dedicated her time to ensuring SCAD met the rules and regulations pertaining to higher education. Ms. Mertz enjoys spending time outside--especially by the water--at her home in Alpine, WY.
With a versatile business background, Ms. Mertz assists the Academy’s mission to provide rigorous, content-rich education for the greater Jackson Hole community, as the Director of Business and Operations.
Prior to her role at the Academy, Ms. Mertz served as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). At SCAD, Ms. Mertz quickly learned higher education protocol, and dedicated her time to ensuring SCAD met the rules and regulations pertaining to higher education.
Ms. Mertz states, “I loved my experience at SCAD, and know there’s crossover with my position at the Academy.” Nonetheless, her clear qualification for her new position is not the only reason she joined the staff. “The mission statement drew me. Everyone has God-given talent; the cultivation of that talent is uniquely important.”
While Ms. Mertz attributes her time at SCAD as her most formative for the Academy, her experience prior to SCAD is of equal note. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Ms. Mertz learned the boating trade (a particularly important industry on the Missouri River) from an early age. By the age of twenty-one, Ms. Mertz owned and operated her own dinner and sight-seeing boat, later turning this experience into ownership of a 250-employee boating company in Savannah, Georgia.
“Above all, I learned how to work with people,” Ms. Mertz describes. “Even budgeting and practical administrative measures such as permitting – or compliance with federal, state, county laws – involved collaborating with people. I’m thrilled to join the Academy in its commitment to excellent education in the Valley.”
Ms. Mertz first arrived in the Jackson-Yellowstone area driven by a desire to see the country. She worked seasonally at Yellowstone National Park for several years, and soon after purchased a home in Alpine, WY. She enjoys being outside and spending time on the water.
Mr. Dan Walker
Northeastern University, BS
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Mr. Dan Walker hails originally from the hardwood forests of New Hampshire and brings diverse job experiences to the position of advancement and finance manager at JHCA. A former defense contractor, he has worked locally with nonprofits and businesses in accounting and financial management. Mr. Walker is excited to contribute his skills to the school and its vision.
He has lived in Jackson for the past several years with his wife, Ashleigh, and their two children, Finn and Rylynn, who both attend JH Classical.
Mr. Dan Walker began working for JH Classical Academy in 2017. He spent his childhood years in rocky New Hampshire before matriculating at Northeastern University where he earned a five-year degree in international business with the university’s co-op/internship program. During this time, he studied at the ESB Business School at Reutlingen University in Germany. Initially scheduled to begin work in Germany, Dan met his future wife, Ashleigh, while home in New Hampshire, expediting his decision to return to the US.
Shortly after graduation, Mr. Walker began work as an analyst with BAE Systems. His work with the Department of Defense focused on leading teams of engineers and analysts in developing capability solutions for a variety of programs. He commuted between Virginia and California and worked weekends as a paramedic while also continuing his education as a professional climbing guide and wilderness EMT. These skills afforded Mr. Walker the opportunity to join several military training expeditions to mountain ranges around the world. He recounts, “With BAE I ended up primarily working on missile defense and general procurement programs, but for a time I worked with the Marine Corps on mountain warfare programs, following a successful training expedition in Denali National Park with Norwegian, Canadian, Australian, and U.S. military personnel. It was an exciting couple of years being involved in these kinds of expeditions.”
After living in California, the Walker family moved to Jackson Hole. The new location was a natural fit. His oldest brother Tim had recently relocated to the Valley, and although it was a difficult place to work remotely, Dan and Ashleigh were determined to stay in the valley. Wanting to remain in Jackson, Mr. Walker went on to work in the outdoor apparel industry at
Cloudveil Mountain Works where he headed their retail program. He later began his own business in accounting with his wife, working with several businesses and nonprofits in the region. His knowledge of nonprofit financial management developed significantly during this time.
Mr. Walker is enthusiastic both about JHCA’s vision and his role in it. He says, “I look forward to helping build and advance JHCA. I know it’s well on its way to becoming the best school in the region. The Academy is why our family is in Jackson right now.” Remarking on his work at JHCA, “My focus is on strengthening the ties within this great community of families, organizing the school’s wonderful volunteer base, and helping the school develop a lasting presence in this region.”
The two Walker children, Finnegan and Rylynn, have attended JHCA for the past few years. As a parent, he appreciates the academic rigor and encouraging peer environment. “Our kids love it! Once I had school-aged children I realized how important this kind of environment is. I think back on the most eloquent person I’ve ever known, my grandfather—he was a former chair of economics and political science at the Naval Academy—and I wonder why nobody seems to speak like he did anymore. He received an education like what JHCA offers, and I’m hoping my children might end up more like him.”
Mr. Walker likes angling and camping during his time off. He also enjoys taking his children paddle boarding and kayaking on the local lakes and rivers. He doesn’t climb much anymore—at least until his kids are old enough to teach. When asked of it, he remarks, “My fastest time up the Grand? Ten hours car to car on the East Ridge—that’s nothing compared to what a lot of the climbers out here can do.”
Mr. Geoff Berger
University of Houston, B.S., Biology
University of Indiana, M.S., Finance
University of Indiana, MBA
FINANCE MANAGER; HUMAN RESOURCES
Mr. Geoff Berger’s varied experience in finance and management prepare him well for his leading roles in the Finance and Human Resource Departments of JH Classical Academy. Geoff served as a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy for six years, and after completing his service, earned his B.S. in Biology from the University of Houston. From there, he spent significant time in Durham, NC, where he occupied leadership positions for a large biotech company at the forefront of human-plasma based therapies. Following his experience in Durham, NC, Geoff earned his M.S. in Finance and M.B.A. from the University of Indiana. Most recently, Geoff managed a custom home builder office in Bozeman, Montana. Geoff is excited to contribute his diverse skill-set to the Academy’s furtherance of education centered on the true, the good, and the beautiful.
Ms. Deb Bentlage
Ms. Deborah “Deb” Bentlage was born in Casper, Wyoming and her childhood was throughout the Equality State. After graduating high school in Jackson, she studied for a year at Central Wyoming College and a year in Laramie before entering the U.S. Army and becoming a paratrooper, serving in Korea and Germany. Ms. Bentlage’s experience is varied and strong for her position at JHCA. She started as a cook at her grandmother’s café at the Teton Gables hotel and has not looked back since! Ms. Bentlage lives in Jackson with her two beautiful children, Sarah and Jacob.
Ms. Deborah Bentlage was born in Casper, Wyoming and moved around the state as a youth before her family settled in the Valley in 1978. Ms. Bentlage’s grandparents lived in Hoback and owned the Teton Gables hotel. She now lives in her grandparents old home on the Snake with her children, Jacob and Sarah.
After graduating high school in Jackson, Deb studied for a year at Central Wyoming College and a year in Laramie. After that she entered the US Army. “I went to non-commission officer school and then became a paratrooper. I don’t think I’d ever have been jumping out of planes if it weren’t for the army.” Deb’s military duties took her to Korea and Germany.
She also was recruited for security work, running background checks on soldiers applying for top security clearances. Deb enjoyed the challenge. “It’s a detective position, really. You dig up dirt on people to see if they’re eligible for clearance. I had to manage six of the Delta Group, as well as the battalion drug testing.”
Being in Korea was a memorable experience for her, especially seeing the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the North and the South. “I got to jump out of a helicopter onto a golf course near the DMZ. From a bird’s-eye view I got to compare the two sides. There is an incredible change in the landscape across the DMZ.” She also appreciated the people she met in Korea. “They are so generous to American soldiers.”
Deb’s experience is varied and strong for her position at JHCA. She had cooked for her grandmother’s café as well as for her own daycare. Deb likewise finds joy being able to serve the students at JHCA. She says, “I love working here. The positive attitude is the best thing about the school. Everything is done for the benefit of the kids, and I like that.”
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.