MONICA DUKE

Early Childhood co-Lead Teacher & Extended Day Coordinator

Monica moved to Montana in October 2015 from Portland, Oregon. She has a BS in Child and Family Studies from the University of Wyoming and an MS in School Counseling from Florida State University. She spent the last 5 years working at West Hills Montessori in Portland, Oregon where she supervised the after care program, and also worked as an all school and administrative support person. Her past work experiences include working as a middle school guidance counselor, designing interiors and finishes for a number of commercial and residential projects, and owning her own business in the charming historic neighborhood of Sellwood in Portland. Her favorite job thus far has been raising her 2 children Emily, 21, and Michael, 18. She shares many interests with them such as a love of traveling, snorkeling, boating, reading, hiking. She is experiencing her first year as an empty-nester. Monica looks forward to spending time cross country skiing and exploring Big Sky and all that it has to offer. She is excited about working with the students at Big Sky Discovery Academy and getting to know the families and the community.

CHRIS CORONA

Elementary & Middle School Co-Lead Teacher

Chris joins his second year at Discovery Academy as an Assistant/Middle School/Math/Science Teacher (whatever my title may be). He graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Prior to coming to Discovery, he was an outdoor educator. He guided mountaineering expeditions with Alaska Mountain Guides, taught ski lessons at Big Sky Resort, and led teen backpacking trips into the Spanish Peaks Wilderness. In the summer, Chris is the Associate Director of Camp Big Sky. Chris specializes in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math. He has extensive knowledge of physics, advanced mathematics, and computer science. His teaching philosophy is based on experiential-learning. His students learn by exploring the world, manipulating objects and ideas, wrestling with questions and controversies, and performing experiments. Chris has boundless energy, and in his free time he enjoys playing outside trail running, rock climbing, ice climbing, and skiing. He is an avid reader too. When he is all tired out from too much exercise, he will likely have his nose in a book or three.

GRACE GANOOM

High School Instructor

Grace Ganoom grew up in Big Sky, attending Ophir School and Bozeman High School She has a Bachelors degree in Mathematics and an Associate degree in Education. Grace has been a tutor in the surrounding area since 2012. She is passionate about math and strives to communicate that passion to her students. Ever focused on having her students achieve success, she uses teaching strategies that carefully guide learning through discovery and the understanding of the principles of math . When not in the classroom, Grace enjoys traveling and being outside. Her favorite activities include skiing, snowshoeing, waterskiing and hiking.

Kate Riley

Elementary Lead Teacher

Our new Elementary lead teacher comes with a wealth of experiences to bring to the Discovery community. Kate received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also completed an artist residency program in France studying in Paris and La Napoule. Additional areas of related study include history, education, environmental science, digital media and music. Kate has taught in both private and public school for five years, operated an early learning center, and has designed and written the art curriculum to establish two high school art programs. Prior to teaching, Kate worked in the museum education department at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Kate has taught the full spectrum of grade levels: elementary, middle, high school and adult ed, in both private and public schools.

Additionally, Kate has designed, created and supervised summer camps for elementary, middle and high school students that include outdoor painting and drawing, photography and integration of the natural elements.This summer Kate is teaching a yoga camp for both elementary and middle school students. Kate is passionate about fostering connections from cultural, political and global issues, and to emphasize with students the importance of developing their creative talents and curiosity for becoming lifelong learners. Outside of teaching, Kate is a painter, photographer and also a certified yoga instructor and hopes to bring yoga, mindfulness and wellness to her classroom. When not teaching, Kate enjoys rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, hiking, yoga, playing music, and, of course, reading a good book! As Lead Elementary Teacher Kate will collaborate with Chris Corona to implement our integrated theme studies for elementary through middle school, connecting art, science, social studies, and geography.

Bella Poulos

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher

Originally from Venice Beach, CA, Bella moved to Big Sky after graduating from Cornell University, where she studied neuroscience. Bella has sought to incorporate her academic understanding of the brain with her love of working with children into her previous positions, which include assisting on child psychology research projects, working at daycare centers, and counseling young children. Bella is excited to be a part of the Big Sky Discovery Academy community as an Assistant teacher in both the EC and Elementary classrooms. She is especially looking forward to sharing her love of science, the arts, and nature with her students and co-teachers this coming school year. Outside of the classroom, Bella spends her time fishing, collecting wildflowers, skiing, and spending time with her pet rabbit, Calypso.

Stephanie Sarmiento

High School Social Studies, Academic Advisor & Course Proctor

Stephanie is our high school social studies support teacher, academic and organizational advisor, and course proctor.

She graduated from The University of Denver with a BA in Anthropology, with minors in sociology, history & psychology. In addition she received a certification in secondary education from CU- Boulder.  Stephanie is also a NOLS graduate and has stayed relevant and current in educational coursework and conferences throughout her career.

Stephanie started teaching  in Barranquilla, Colombia as a high school world history and English teacher, then moved on to Colorado where she was the middle school humanities teacher in an outdoor, experiential private school leading outdoor expeditions incorporating the classroom curriculum into the outdoors.  Her husband’s career took them from Big Sky all over the world. Stephanie has traveled to over 40 countries but maintained her career in education for more than 12 years as a tutor specializing in academic support, executive function skills, EAL (English Acquisition Learner) and Language Arts.  She has two daughters, both in college.  Her husband is from Guatemala and is a Senior Geophysicist.

Stephanie’s passions are being in nature, the outdoors, sports and mountains and of course travel!  Stephanie is happy to be back in beautiful Big Sky and excited to be a part of Discovery Academy.

Rikka Wommack

High School

Rikka grew up on the Maine coast, and graduated from Carleton College with a degree in Religion. She earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing at the University of Montana, where she taught undergraduate composition and creative writing classes, and was named the Tim O’Leary and Michelle Cardinal Prose Scholar. Rikka went on to teach English literature at Swiss Semester, in Zermatt, and then to head the Literature and Writing department at The Island School, in the Bahamas. She is thrilled to be back in Big Sky, where she has worked seasonally for several years, and excited to share her passion for creativity in writing with the students of Big Sky Discovery Academy.

NANCY SHEIL

Community Learning Center Coordinator

Nancy joined the Big Sky Discovery Academy team in 2016 as the Coordinator of the newly established Community Learning Center. Previously, Nancy taught math and science to middle and high school students for five years in Big Sky, MT. Nancy has a Master’s in Education from Montana State University.

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