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.
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. 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.
Mr. Dean Rossi
Mr. Dean Rossi joins JH Classical Academy as the Facility Manager. Coming from Wellsville, Kansas, he has 35 years of construction as both a carpenter and superintendent. He will oversee the maintenance of the current building and the construction of the future campus, as well as housekeeping, security, and snow removal. Dean and his wife Tina have six children and thirteen grandchildren.
Mr. Dean Rossi joins JH Classical Academy as our Facilities Manager. He will oversee the maintenance of the current buildings, as well as cleaning services, security, and snow removal.
Dean is moving with his wife Tina from Wellsville, Kansas where he was born and raised. Between them they have six children and thirteen grandchildren.
Being invested in education is a theme in Dean's life. He and his wife encouraged their children to pursue excellence in sports and academics. Dean was on the Wellsville school board for twelve years, and served as the president for four years. He looks forward to once again serving a school. When considering the reasons for moving from construction, he said, "I want to play a part in building a place where children can be well educated."
Dean’s varied background includes serving in the Kansas Army National Guard for 14 years and acting as a reserve deputy for four years. Dean has worked in construction for 35 years; beginning his career as carpenter and then owning his own cabinet making business. He also spent many years as a travelling superintendent for construction sites. Last year, Dean worked with Bouma to construct the temporary school building at 2500 South Park. He says, "I am happy to be part of a project that I've seen from the ground up."
Dean is an avid runner and road biker. He has completed 48 marathons and also has competed in triathlons. Dean looks forward to participating in local competitions and has his sights set on LoToJa 2020. One of Dean's hobbies is woodworking. He says, "God gave me that gift, and that's what I love." He has donated a couple of beautiful wood sculptures to the school.
Mrs. Kayanne Yarrow
Born and raised in Wyoming, Mrs. Kayanne Yarrow joins JHCA with almost two decades of teaching experience. Her degrees and experience show her dedication to Christian education. Mrs. Yarrow is excited to continue to live in Jackson Hole and to be a part of a vibrant, faith-filled community at JHCA. Mrs. Yarrow and her husband have four children and nine grandchildren. When she is not at school, you can find Mrs. Yarrow reading, fishing, or enjoying the outdoors.
Mrs. Kayanne Yarrow joins JHCA as a teacher and Information Manager. The mountain west runs deep in her veins as she grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She spent her summers at a family cabin near Pinedale. After graduating from Utah State University with a degree in elementary education, Mrs. Yarrow began her teaching career in Rock Springs.
In 1999, Mrs. Yarrow moved to Vancouver, Washington. There she taught sixth grade at St. Joseph's for fifteen years. Her favorite subjects to teach included literature, math, and religion.
Although her experience there was formative, Mrs. Yarrow is happy to be back in her home state, "Where the skies are not cloudy all day," as the old song goes. The mountains are a big attraction to Mrs. Yarrow, who loves to hike with her husband.
Before coming to JHCA, Mrs. Yarrow was a bookkeeper and controller in retail in Jackson Hole. She says, "When a staff member at JHCA expressed enthusiasm in the school, I was immediately intrigued." What she found out induced her to apply. She says, "I was drawn to be part of a faith-based community and to be teaching again. I am very excited to work in a place in which coworkers share my beliefs."
When she is not working, you can find Mrs. Yarrow fishing, reading a mystery novel, or spending time with her ten grandkids. She says, "Three live in Wyoming, four live in Vancouver, and three in Arizona. Visiting them all is how I spend vacations!"
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.