Building Meaningful Relationships
We call our teachers “mentors.” Teachers lecture—mentors inspire. Teachers care about test scores—mentors care about students and unleashing their potential. Teachers work in a job—mentors fulfill a mission.
Our online program allows us to hire mentors with differing perspectives and talents, a range of life experiences, and various methods of connecting to and interacting with our students. When students want individual attention, they will attend their mentor’s office hour and get one-on-one time. Their mentor will also get to know them through their assignments and will give them lots of personalized feedback. Finally, your students and their mentor will communicate with each other via email whenever they need to.
Berit is new to Williamsburg this year, coming to you from Arlington, VA. She grew up half of her life near the beach in Southern California and the other half of her life in the mountains of a small town in Northern Utah. She values the education she received all the way up until earning her B.S. in Public Health and her B.A. in French both at Brigham Young University. Her love and knowledge of French stems from living in Paris on a study abroad, French Polynesia as a missionary for her church, and years working as a social worker with newly arrived refugees in the United States. She’s a brand new mom to a sweet girl and wife to a wonderful guy. Together, they love canoeing around the national monuments on the Potomac, finding hidden trails to hike outside the city, and making cooking videos. She is excited to be a part of the Williamsburg community!
Robert has taught in both public and private schools (including IMG Academy, a leading private school for student-athletes) and worked as an educator in the corporate world. Robert has been a student for most of his life and loves sharing his passion for learning with students.
Robert is an avid reader and deeply values his own liberal arts education. In his own words, “the liberal arts have taught me to understand and connect with those who hold different values, beliefs, and cultural norms than I do and to see their importance as human beings.” Robert’s wife, Sara, and daughter, Penelope, “help me to realize how precious time is and to value our moments of fun and laughter.” Robert loves to travel, hike, and watch Kansas City Royals baseball, and he and his are huge Disney fans.
Robert holds a BA in History & English and an MA in Education from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He is currently working towards a Doctorate of Education with a specialization in leadership through Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Kent grew up in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, where there were more cacti than people. As a kid, he spent all of his time outside—when he was not running around in the desert, he was usually building some sort of contraption that would help him catch desert critters. Kent is very thankful for this childhood setting.
Kent has always loved science and anything to do with designing and building things. These passions, combined with a personality that is “never satisfied with short answers or textbook explanations,” have made science a way of life for Kent. “The more you understand, the less you actually know. The eternal progression of learning more, to understand less, is very addicting.”
Kent holds a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Western Governors University, where he majored in elementary education. Before joining Williamsburg, Kent taught middle school science for five years at George Washington Academy in St. George, Utah, where he was voted Teacher of the Year twice in a row.
More than anything, Emily loves learning new things and sharing her enthusiasm for learning with others. As a result, Emily has found herself in a wide range of teaching situations, including teaching writing to homeschoolers; teaching reading to a child with dyslexia and teaching English, keyboarding, and Spanish in public school. In her own words, “My life has been rich with opportunities for discovering and sharing the things I love most with others.”
Emily studied English Education at Utah Valley University and has “a deep fondness for the Rocky Mountains, sagebrush, and sunshine of the West.” At the same time, after living for six years now in Central New York, Emily also feels at home “amidst the woods, waterfalls, and rich history of the East” with her husband and three children.
Wandering through antique shops, hotly debating whether ice cream tastes better from a cup or a cone, practicing yoga, turning up the volume to Beethoven’s 9th symphony, reading great literature, identifying birds in my backyard, and holding impromptu dance parties in the living room are a few of Emily’s favorite things right now.
Kathryn has tutored and taught online for many years and loves having the unique opportunity to meet new people from all over the world through online learning platforms. In her own words: “I LOVE teaching math and think it’s the best subject out there! I believe all students can ‘get’ math with enough effort. I love helping students make those connections.”
Kathryn grew up in Arizona and has lived in Finland for one-and-a-half years. She is proficient in Spanish and fluent in Finnish and enjoys trying to find ways to use both of these languages back at home in the U.S.
Kathryn holds a BS degree in Math Education from Brigham Young University. She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, and they both love being outdoors, hiking, and playing racquetball. They also love going to sporting events (“go Indians!”), trying new foods, and riding new roller coasters. Their absolute favorite pastime, though, is playing board games with friends.
Camille grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and her childhood consisted of friends, swimming, and sports. “School was also a huge priority in our family. While it may not have been the purest of motivations, my goal was always to outperform my older sisters.” Math was always Camille’s favorite subject: “I remember begging my mom in third grade to take me to school early so I could try getting faster times on my multiplication tables!”
Over time, Camille realized that her passion for math came from her amazing high school teachers and that she wanted to “be that teacher for someone else.” This led Camille to attend Brigham Young University and Utah State University studying Math and Math Education. Camille also made her first connection with Williamsburg while attending college and joined the team as a math tutor.
Camille and her husband are parents to a beautiful baby girl. Along with math and spending time with her family, Camille loves to play the piano and attend sporting events.
“G’day mate! Yes, you guessed it, I am Australian. Not quite the ‘Steve Urwin Crocodile Hunter’ type, but pretty close!” Ross is very excited to be the first “Aussie” mentor for Williamsburg Learning. Growing up, Ross was deeply impacted by his own caring role models and mentors—so much so that he realized he wanted to serve others the same way for the rest of his life.
After completing a Bachelor of Business & Economics and Japanese Language & Asian Studies from Monash University in Australia, Ross “did what most people do: got a job and paid off a mortgage.” After that, something changed: “We needed more from life and so my wife and five children and I left Australia and began exploring the world.” They have now visited 33 countries and love seeing how travel changes how they see the world.
On one of his family adventures, Ross had a “chance” encounter with some Williamsburg mentors and their families, on top of Mt. Vesuvius, Italy. That moment changed Ross’s life (“thank you, Denning and Young families!”) and the rest is history.
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” Karin first read this Allen Ginsberg quote years ago, and as a writer, it blew her mind. “Why hadn’t I ever approached writing from that point of view?” she asked. “I write. It’s what I do and what I love. Learning about writing, sharing my writing, helping others foster their creative voices is my passion.”
Karin and her family live in a little town just outside Las Vegas, Nevada. They love to travel. Karin feels that part of being a well-rounded person is exploration: “Seeing different cities, states, and countries and experiencing their cultures is the best way to learn about other people,” she says. In her spare time, Karin also loves to practice yoga, read, knit, and put together jigsaw puzzles.
After graduating from Southern New Hampshire University with a BA in English and Creative Writing, she is currently exploring options for her Master’s degree. After watching her own child excel at Williamsburg over the last school year, Karin is thrilled to be joining the Williamsburg mentor team this fall.
As a homeschooling mom of 4 awesome kids from age 14 to 22, I’ve had many years of teaching and loving it! As it happens, I also love learning; so studying the hows and whys of education in college was perfect. We decided to teach at home and as the kids were young, we loved our own eclectic mix of curriculum, community classes, 4-H, and lots of imaginative play. Discovering a new online school in 2009, when my oldest was 14, started us on a new journey and each of our children is attending or has graduated from Williamsburg.
We all love to sing and act, so belting Broadway show tunes is pretty common around our home, as is making silly videos and telling bad puns. We live in Alaska, surrounded by mountains, forests, rivers, and yes…, lots of snow. We fish, hunt, garden, raise animals, camp, and go 4-wheeling in the summers. Though my family loves outdoor winter activities, I like to spend the cold, dark winters curled up inside with a good book and hot chocolate!
We’ve recently been able to do some traveling. Starting in Morocco with other Williamsburg parents, we bartered in the markets, rode camels into the desert and slept in tents on the sand. What a life changing experience for us to see that land and people in a whole new light. Later in the year, 6 weeks in Guatemala gave us an amazing chance to do service for the local people, make wonderful friends and really learn about their culture with our kids. There’s a lot more traveling on our bucket list!
Colleen TuckerMentor & Human Resources Rep
Mentor & Human Resources Rep
The cornfields of Indiana were my birthing grounds, and therefore I am a Midwestern at heart. I wasn’t actually born in a cornfield, in case you’re curious. But for 18 years, I lived in Indiana and soaked it all up: the humidity, lightening bugs, luscious sunsets, biscuits and gravy, small towns. After 12 years in St. George, Utah, I moved back to the Midwest (Nebraska) and am again reunited with my roots.
I am passionate about people and helping them find their way. Not to mention I also love hiking, yoga-ing, joking, helping, listening, singing, observing, harmonizing, guitaring, learning, creating, walking, teaching, journaling, improving, laughing, playing, thinking, reading, and hugging.
Many days I go on walks. I smell the outdoors. I lie in the grass and look up. I hang out with my family and laugh, sing, and process life. I make birthday cards for people out of random scraps and doo dads I’ve been collecting. I am very deep, analytical, and contemplative. The humor is constant; my sister says I wear it like underpants. (Should I put that on a t-shirt?) But I’m also rather sensitive and serious. All at the same time! I also have many weaknesses which make me a very exciting person.
I have an AAS degree in Art and Visual Communication with Concentration in Computer Graphics from Utah Valley State College and a BS in Secondary Art Education from Utah Valley University.
I’m a great designer, and I enjoy teaching others. I have a passion for the fine arts, and I’m looking forward to being a mentor for Williamsburg Learning. I spend my time with my two girls and share all my artistic talents with them. I live in sunny St. George, Utah near the gorgeous red rocks, where I enjoy swimming, hiking, and camping with my family.
I am an Idaho girl through and through. I was born and raised in Preston, Idaho. After high school, I moved to Pocatello, Idaho for college where I met my amazing husband, Randy. We both graduated from Idaho State University in 2000, me with a degree in Dental Hygiene and him with an Electrical Engineering Degree. We then moved to Moscow, Idaho where Randy pursued a masters degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Idaho and I went to work to support our family. It turned out that dental hygiene was not the ideal career for me – I love to discuss great ideas with people and the conversations are very one-sided when you have your hands in the other person’s mouth. As soon as Randy graduated, I retired to stay home with our toddler and brand new baby and I’ve never looked back.
We moved to the Boise, Idaho area and we have since added three more children to our family. I have been blessed to be able to pursue a leadership education alongside our kids for these last 15 years. Reading and studying the classics together has changed our family forever. Now the kids are growing up and we are starting to really reap the fruits of an education to match our missions. It is so much fun!
We have been a Williamsburg family since 2011 when my oldest son started by taking Mr. Rees’ Computer Programming class over the summer. We fell in love with the education and culture of Williamsburg, and I am thrilled to be joining the faculty as a Leadership Coach.
Heidi MitchellProgram Leader & Mentor
Program Leader & Mentor
I LOVE adventure!!! From studying abroad in Israel and Mexico, living in the Russian language house at BYU, and teaching and exploring in Hong Kong….To marrying my incredible husband, becoming an instant mother to three amazing stepchildren, and dedicating myself to creating a family. (Several years later, I had two of my own absolutely wonderful children!)
I always knew I wanted to go to college and chose Brigham Young University where I not only graduated in history but also devoured the whole educational experience. While driving for several hours to our family gathering during my first Thanksgiving break from college, I couldn’t stop telling my parents about everything I was learning in every class I was taking! I love learning, and I love sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
Through homeschooling my children for eight years, I realized I also love being an advocate for students who want to explore and develop their interests, talents, and unique educational pursuits, which is why I am so excited about mentoring Williamsburg students and sharing this enthusiasm with them (and their families)!
I believe that all aspects of our lives are potential adventures fraught with challenges, growth, and ultimately joy as our horizons are elevated, our character is strengthened, and our association with others cultivated. Did I mention, I LOVE adventure?!
Elizabeth SuttonProgram Leader & Mentor
Program Leader & Mentor
There is nothing I love so well as the moment of epiphany that marks when real learning occurs. I love everything about the learning process, but mostly I love the way that my students breathe life into what we’re studying. I find that as I teach, I’m always learning, and I find that cycle deliciously exhilarating. I graduated from BYU with a degree in English Teaching and Japanese; I also pursued a Master’s Degree in Literacy at Utah State University. I’ve spent most of my adult life teaching: Japanese and English Language Arts to high-schoolers, reading skills to elementary schoolers, and a course I like to call “How to be a Person” taught exclusively to my two children.
I currently reside in Western New York where the weather colors everything we do. Here, summer is verdant and I like to camp and hike and fill up on sunshine; winters are long and gray– it feels a little like Narnia. Then, suddenly, a tulip leaf peeks out of the snow, and hope renews: this is spring. Of course, nothing beats autumn. In the shade of gold and red trees, we harvest apples, concord grapes, and giant peaches so full of juice that when you take a bite it dribbles down your chin. I like traveling, being with my family, and when all else fails, a soft chair, a giant bowl of popcorn, and a really good book.
Cara DansieCo-program Leader & Mentor
Co-program Leader & Mentor
I was first introduced to foreign languages when I was just a young girl and took a mini-course in German. It fascinated me and my journey began. I created my own alphabet with my sisters and wrote notes in that language/code for years. When I hit high school and had foreign language options, I took more German whenever possible and when German wasn’t available, I took Spanish. When I started my college years, I added Russian to the mix. After three years at Utah State University, I had my bachelor’s degree along with a secondary education teaching certificate. After graduation, I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though I was called to the Russia Samara Mission, I started out in San Diego, California speaking Spanish. I then went on to live for over a year in Russia splitting my time there between Samara, Rostov, and Volgograd. After my mission, I had a short career in a traditional brick and mortar high school where I taught all three languages at Carbon High School. During that time, I went with two other teachers and we took a group of our students to Germany for an exchange program. I lived in Hamburg for a month that summer and loved my time there. I “retired” from teaching for a while after I married and then became pregnant with my first child. I couldn’t seem to stay away from languages or education and ended up teaching English as a Second Language for the College of Eastern Utah (now USU-Eastern). Later that year, I was an assistant and lesson developer for my husband who taught Japanese at the same college. After getting all of our ten kids added to our family, five the biological way and five through adoption, I re-entered the teaching field – this time in the virtual world. Since then, I have taught for Utah Online, Utah Virtual Academy, Kids On Line Academy, and Williamsburg Academy. I have been a teacher at home as well as I have taught my own children using online resources and schools along with traditional homeschool and local co-ops. I have also been involved in other aspects of education such as curriculum development, assessment creation, website development and management, registration, recruitment and more. I have a passion for children, families, education, cultures, and languages.
It was as a young teenager that I had an experience that produced an epiphany about the direction for my future professional life. In our social studies class, we had an assignment to write a story about pioneers. I had always felt that my teacher was indifferent to me and favored many of the other students. So I determined to prove to him that I was a good student and a good person. With that story, I tried something I had never done before. I determined to write a story the way that my favorite authors wrote their stories and captivated their readers. The story I selected was based largely on my great-grandfather, who, at 12 became the man of the family when his father died. The story had dialogue and descriptions like I had never written before, and though the work was hard, the result gave me a lot of satisfaction. I knew it was very good.
As usual, the teacher read to the class some of the best student work. I sat on the edge of my chair, waiting—but my story was not read. When he handed back the stories, my heart sank when I saw a big, red F on the top. I took my story up to his desk and asked him, “Why?”
“You know why!” he said.
“No, I don’t.”
“Because you copied it from a magazine.”
I assured him I hadn’t copied it. That experience proved to be a gift. I knew I had an ability to write and I set my sails for that direction. During two years in the South Pacific, I decided to apply to a school of journalism, since writers like Ernest Hemmingway started as journalists. I applied to Northwestern University because Medill School of Journalism was the top rated school, but also because I wanted to experience life in a big, urban area like Chicago. Additionally, I wanted to play Big Ten football.
At NU, I met Maya. We married, then raised our four children in the Chicago area. Supporting my family by better-paying work, writing became more of a passionate avocation. Nevertheless, I’ve had four books published and numerous short stories and articles. I’ve also done a lot of teaching at a college level and developed workshops for corporations. I’m excited to be mentoring at WA, and hope that I can help many of you, in a positive way, discover some of your great potential, and maybe even your direction in life!
Learning is simply an accumulation of your experiences. Here are the Top 10 experiences that have shaped my life learning to this point.
I enjoy teaching Spanish. I enjoy teaching online.
I began speaking Spanish as a child. My dad was a missionary to Mexico for about four years. Getting a
bachelor’s degree in Spanish seemed like a logical step. Later, I studied Russian in an intensive year-long course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California.
I have been involved with the homeschooling community since 2000. At that time I decided to homeschool my three children. We homeschooled for ten years. After that, one transitioned to college and the other two decided to transition into the local public school system. Now one is in university pursuing a degree in nursing, one is pursuing other goals—all of that homeschooling made her realize that she could be an independent thinker—and one is attending our local community college.
From 2006 to 2012 I taught exclusively online. I enjoy the flexibility that this model of education allows for both students and staff. Many of my students have chosen distance learning as a model of education because they have interests that require a time commitment that conflicts with calendars and schedules of traditional schools. Others like the autonomy that distance learning supports. There are so many good reasons to make nontraditional choices in education.
In 2012 I began teaching at a local community college. Now I am teaching in corporate America, and am enjoying the different challenges that arise. I look forward to working with each of you this year.
Since my elementary school days of being pulled out each week for what we called “shy class,” a program to help kids find their voice through creativity, collaboration, and performance, I have been a believer in the power of the arts in education. I love watching students take risks and discover interests and talents they never knew they had. I am amazed as they develop more confidence academically, personally, and socially because of their participation. I hold a BFA in Music Dance Theater and a BA in Theater Arts Education from BYU. I taught and directed theater and music in Utah and Colorado. Some of my favorite outdoor activities are hiking, biking, rafting, and backpacking with my family. I currently live in New Glarus, a quaint little one stoplight town in southern Wisconsin, with my husband Scott and four awesome kids.
I absolutely love mentoring students as a part of the Williamsburg team! I grew up amidst pine trees in the mountains of southeast New Mexico. I have always loved sports, and as a youth I was a competitive gymnast and played baseball, softball, volleyball, ran track, and did whatever else I could manage. My first life aspiration as a 7-year-old was to be an Olympic gymnast. After graduating from high school, I traveled to Australia on the NM all-star softball team and my love of travel took flight! I have since lived for a summer in Ireland and helped lead a student tour through Spain. I attended Eastern Arizona College on a softball scholarship and embarked on my pursuit of a life-long liberal arts education by supplementing my college classes with classical readings in my favorite corner of the library. Later, my husband and I were married while attending BYU, where I studied humanities. I am deeply passionate about my field and I love that it brings together the most inspiring works of human nature and history. While completing my bachelor’s degree, my three children, Andy, Lauren, and Emily, were born, making our house quite an exciting place. I still love playing sports and play on flag football, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and softball teams and enjoy hiking and going on outings with my family in our beautiful transplanted home of Washington state. Mentoring and being a part of students’ growth at Williamsburg continues to be one of the most fulfilling and joyous elements of my life!
Cebre JacobMentor & Program Leader
Mentor & Program Leader
I grew up in Northern California as the oldest of six children. We lived in the Redwood Forest and right next to the beach! It was absolutely in every way a fairytale. I spent most of my childhood soaking up the outdoors; I loved laying in the grass, swinging in my hammock, reading books, and talking with friends. I always knew I wanted to teach. My siblings and I would rearrange the dining room chairs in rows to make a school bus (to get to school) and then a classroom. We would even use small tables to create desks! After I graduated high school I enrolled at Brigham Young University, with NO idea which
After I graduated high school I enrolled at Brigham Young University, with NO idea which subject to focus on. While at BYU, I signed up for more and more mathematics classes. As I continued, I grew to love my math classes, and the connections I could make between them. I loved being able to see how differently each student learned, and I loved applying different methods to the same concept. I have a very fundamental belief that each student can make those same connections, and that the connections are individual and unique. I believe that with balanced effort between student and mentor, both students and mentors can succeed.
What do I consider my success? Helping a student connect and understand a new mathematical concept! I graduated in Math Education from Brigham Young University in 2012 and taught for a few years in Utah. Now I’m a mom of two cuties and am living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Trying new things (even if they sometimes blow up) is one of the things I enjoy the most about teaching chemistry. I love helping students see that chemistry can be fun, interesting, and meaningful in their everyday lives. From the chemicals used on the potato farm where I grew up to the chocolate chip cookies in my oven, chemistry is all around us. After earning my M.S. in chemistry from the University of Utah, I worked in a biochemistry lab for a few years before finally becoming a teacher. I taught chemistry in a large public high school for 3 years and a smaller charter high school for 5 years before moving to southeastern Idaho with my husband and three little girls. I enjoy the outdoors, being with my family, cooking, and reading. Some of my favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, J. Budziszewski, Jasper Fforde, and Patrick F. McManus.
Current favorites of my life include dancing, sipping hot chocolate from 7/11, late night talks with best friends, reading soul-impacting books, writing letters, laughing so hard I can’t breathe, and gazing at the stars. When I’m not doing any of those things, you can find me at my desk studying. Or sleeping.
I am a student at BYU Provo, majoring in accounting with a minor in ballroom dance. Before that, I attended Williamsburg Academy where I learned important life lessons, gained a leadership education and developed lasting friendships with mentors and other students. I graduated magna cum laud, leaving the legacy of the llama in my wake. To this day, I’m still not sure why the llama ever became popular, but I’m guessing it’s because I may have “accidentally” leaked a video of the mentors doing the infamous llama dance on social media.
BYU is only two hours away from my home in northern Utah. It’s a tiny farming community that doesn’t even have its own post office. I love coming home to visit my family whenever I get the opportunity. We know all the Disney songs, have the funniest inside jokes, and throw the best movie nights. I am the oldest of five. We’re all adopted, were homeschooled through elementary/middle school, and then attended or are currently attending Williamsburg Academy.
I am a lover of learning, dance, mathematics, and truth. I found my passion for mathematics in college when I realized that it is an art form and a modality for creation. I love puzzles, ideas, and anything else that challenges my mind. I love working with youth and creating environments where people can change their perceptions of themselves and the world around them to perceptions that bring more joy and happiness into their lives.
As a child, I was “everything schooled”. Home-school, no-school, co-op school, private school, charter school, public school, you name it…I probably did it 🙂 After graduating high school at 16, I changed my major three times (Accounting > Elementary Education > Physics > Mathematics Education) before confirming that the beauty and art of mathematics are what I really want to share with the world. I graduated in May 2014 with my Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics Education with a minor in Physics Teaching and then spent a year teaching at a charter school in Arizona.I grew up in Paradise, a tiny country town in northern Utah, as the oldest of 11 children. I rarely live in the same place for more than a year, but my home base is in Utah.
Rob NoordaDirector of Self Paced Education & Mentor
Director of Self Paced Education & Mentor
I’m a committed jack-of-all-trades with a wide variety of interests, from astronomy to beekeeping to bookbinding. I run a few websites and own a small publishing company with my wife. I speak Chinese and really bad Spanish. I travel a lot, but mostly in search of Mexican food.
I grew up in Las Vegas but now live in Portland, Oregon. The weather could not be more different, but it reminds me of my time spent living in Scotland, where I lived when I began working at Williamsburg. I studied Chinese and Business Management at Brigham Young University, including lots of travel around Asia working with and learning from international businesses there.
My one weakness is my hardcore red-green colorblindness, so I can easily be bested in a game of Uno.
My name is Abby Alley and I am from Ogden, Utah. I love to travel, see movies, explore and play with friends and family!
I attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a BA in History with a secondary education certification. I studied abroad in London, England where I met my husband, Addison Alley. I spent two years teaching World and Utah History to 6th and 7th graders in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. While there, I participated in the accreditation process as well as the creation of curriculum for the World and Utah History programs. In late 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first child, Alice, into the family. We moved to Washington D.C. in the summer of 2013 so Addison could attend medical school at George Washington University. We currently live in Arlington, Virginia. I am super excited to be a part of the Williamsburg team!
I have twin loves: classical literature and the guitar. I’ve been playing guitar for 21 years and teaching professionally for 10. I studied jazz at Cornish College of the Arts, music at Southern Utah University, and private guitar with Howard Schaunzer and Barry Brooksby. I have extensive experience as a performer and have recorded two albums. I am a student-listener of guitar history and consider guitar to be a spiritual practice by which one may commune with The Beautiful. Such communion includes everything from soft and lyrical acoustic melodies to melting cherub faces with electric madness. My passion for classical literature led me to pursue an MA in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College. I love watching people’s souls expand when studying Lao Tzu, Voltaire, and other great thinkers. I have been teaching classical literature online for several years.
I married Lindsay Fife in 2003 and, along with our five little ones, we are living a wild adventure––currently residing near Dallas, Texas.
I have been tutoring math and science for over six years and have been a student of science my entire life. I love explosions, unpredictable chemical reactions, figuring out why stuff does what it does, and eating hot slices of Hawaiian-style pizza. My greatest award in science was being voted “most likely to be a mad scientist” by my classmates at Carbon High. I’m close to finishing a BS degree from Southern Utah University in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, with an emphasis in classical scientific thought. My background in computer technology helps me find fun and unique ways to make math and science come alive in Williamsburg’s online courses.
My wife, children and I live in Cedar City, Utah.
Fitness and education are two of my passions in life. I am very fortunate to be able to live out these passions in a variety of ways. I hold a BA in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MA in Instructional Technology from North Carolina State University. I enjoy sharing my expertise in Physical Education and Instructional Technology to mentor students and enable them to make healthy living a lifestyle. I strongly believe that students need to experience a healthy lifestyle rather than merely reading about it–that’s why I do what I do.
I live in Wendell, North Carolina with my wife, Emily, our daughter, Lorelei, and our beloved dog, Hawkins. My family and I enjoy living in NC where we are close to both of our families, the beach, and the mountains! When I am not mentoring or spending quality time with my family, you will find me running or riding my bike! My favorite races to compete in are the half-marathon and the full marathon. I also enjoy most any other sport, playing guitar, and volunteering in and around my community.
Jackie de LaveagaMentor
Jackie de Laveaga
Words, words, words. They follow me everywhere . . . and I love it. When I was eleven, my family moved into a home just four blocks from the public library. We could have lived in a refrigerator box, and I would not have cared because I spent all of my waking hours at the library. Not much has changed, but I don’t live in a refrigerator box now, either. Instead, I stockpile books around the house. I’ve had the privilege to carve a life path that has kept me buried in books, kids, and education. I earned a BA from Prescott College with multiple areas of emphasis: English, Writing for Publication, and Secondary Education, and a Master of Education Degree with a concentration in language acquisition from Regent University. Soon after, I began teaching college writing courses, while simultaneously editing and publishing a magazine. Over the years, I have mentored thousands of students (from primary school to college) in writing, literature, and drama. I prefer to teach a formulaic style of writing first because it takes the mystery out of creating articulate written communication. While students master the science of writing, I begin to invite them into the art of writing as well. Working with Williamsburg students has been a delight. They are positive, excited to learn, driven, and self-reliant—every mentor’s dream. To my fellow bookies—some of my favorite authors are Roald Dahl, Alan Paton, Charles Dickens, Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, and Alexis de Tocqueville.
My husband and I have always shared a passion for exciting, engaging, eccentric education, and this drove us to home-educate our own five children. We live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have been mostly eclectic in our choices, which makes for a fabulous (yet chaotic) educational journey. My children have benefitted from Williamsburg’s courses as part of their homeschool curriculum. With our two oldest out of college and our youngest turning seven soon, I can assuredly say that immersing myself in fabulous education is a calling I love to perpetuate. Some favorite pastimes: hiking, sitting around campfires, book clubs, live theater, going to the beach, traveling, and two-hour family dinners with lots of loud talking and laughing.
Anya YeagerChief Academic Officer
Chief Academic Officer
My name is Anya Yeager. I have worked in education now for over 20 years! I have undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Social and Behavioral Sciences. I also hold a Masters Degree in Psychology and an Administrative Endorsement in K-12 School Leadership. I began my career as a teacher, and have since held multiple administrative positions including with the Utah State Office of Child Care as a ‘Quality Improvement Consultant’ and as Director of Special Education, Assistant Director, and Executive Director of George Washington Academy, an academically rigorous charter school in St. George, Utah serving over 1000 students. I was drawn to the charter school world when I couldn’t find a public school option that was right for my own children and I have been highly involved in school choice for over a decade. During that time, my proud professional moments have included earning the title of ‘Charter School of the Year’ 2013 and ‘Rookie of the Year’ 2015 with GWA. It was there that I met James Ure, who was serving on our Board of Directors, and learned about Williamsburg Learning and its exceptional model of online learning.
I feel as if everything I have ever studied or been interested in has led me to this position at Williamsburg Learning. I am a strong believer in school choice, high expectations for student learning, and the idea that parents should be able to be as involved as they can in their children’s education. I truly believe in Williamsburg Learning’s mission and vision of amazing academics and leadership. The Williamsburg Curriculum, combined with devoted teachers and incredibly supportive families, is enabling students to reach their highest potential and will make the world a better place, one person at a time. I also love that I get to be a part of the amazing team of individuals that has been assembled at WL and all of their partner schools. I am learning and being inspired daily!
I have been married to my husband, Alex, for 22 years, and we have three amazing children (two boys and a girl). My personal passions are the ocean, travel, art, chocolate, and hot yoga. I am excited for many new adventures to come at WL!
Ben BrownChief Operating Officer
Chief Operating Officer
I started reading about the same time I started talking, and I’ve loved doing both ever since. I have this insatiable hunger to know everything and so I read all sorts of topics––history, philosophy, psychology literature, business, leadership, science, current events, etc. I can’t stop at just learning things though; as soon as I’ve learned something new it wants to come roaring out of my mouth to the first person I see, regardless of how interested they are. So, mentoring was a natural fit for me: it gave me a venue to teach and a reason to learn. I studied liberal arts in college and received a BA from George Wythe University in 2010.
I grew up in a large family on a small ranch in Wyoming, where the weather was cold and windy and the sunsets were beautiful. I got bored with my homeschool curriculum when I was 17 and started attending the local college, where I discovered debate. I went on to win the Silver Award at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament in 2007, and debate is one of my favorite subjects to teach. During college, I spent a summer in Uganda, Africa, teaching teacher development courses to primary and secondary school teachers. I ran from monkeys and warthogs, white water rafted the Nile, and wooed a fellow traveler, Ellie. We later married, and now have three kids––Charly, Malcolm, and Murphy––and live in Saint George, Utah. Besides reading, I also enjoy rock climbing, yoga, and Saturday morning hikes with my family, and I have a huge man-crush on Abraham Lincoln. Before I die I would like to rock climb the Great Wall of China, do yoga in a Hindu temple in India, and backpack all over Iceland.
Adam HailstoneChief Marketing Officer
Chief Marketing Officer
When I was 14 years old, I went through a dramatic change in my life. I realized it was up to me to get an education—no one else was going to do it for me. I say “dramatic” because I went from a student who was dragging his feet and learning practically nothing to a student who was enthusiastic about learning, life, and having an impact. Since then I have sought to help others push through educational, personal, and cultural barriers to obtain greater learning. During college, I was able to take that desire to audiences around the United States and Canada. With my professors, and eventually on my own, I spoke to groups about education, politics, worldviews and the direction of our society. It was a fulfilling time in my life.
I live in Cedar City, Utah, where I graduated from George Wythe University with a BA in Liberal Arts. After college, I started two small businesses. I had big plans, and it was a great learning experience, but something was missing. I longed for the opportunity to once again help people obtain a greater education. Then, a few years ago, I sold one business and closed the other to join the faculty of Williamsburg Academy full time. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love what I do! I get to help students look at the world, its people, cultures, problems, and beauty, and show them how to navigate it and the opportunities they have to change it. My goal as a mentor is to help students look inward and see themselves as they really are and then decide to become what they see.
Shelly JenkinsCustomer Service Team Director & Registrar
Customer Service Team Director & Registrar
Growing up I always surrounded myself with good books. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading to me from Dr. Seuss and The Berenstain Bears. As a teen, it was not uncommon for me to read two or three books a day! While I don’t have time to do that any longer, I do still love to curl up with a book and see what adventures I get to go on through its pages. How lucky I am to have found an opportunity to work here at Williamsburg where I get to work with amazing people, get exposed to some great books, and interact with incredible youth and their parents!
I currently reside in Northern Utah where I enjoy looking at the beautiful mountains each day. My husband and I are super busy raising and homeschooling nine super awesome kids. There is never a dull moment in our home! In between it all, I also love running through summer rainstorms, sitting around a campfire with family and/or friends, meditating by a river, laughing with my family, and enjoying late night chats with my kids.
James UrePresident & Co-founder
President & Co-founder
As a co-founder of Williamsburg Learning, James is on a mission to transform education in the 21st century. He loves preparing students to live meaningful lives as principled leaders. He also loves inspiring a young generation of parents, teachers, and education leaders to bring out the best in students and prepare them for the unique challenges and opportunities in the Information Age. James is a provocative speaker, published writer, and successful education entrepreneur.
After earning an English degree, James graduated summa cum laude from South Texas College of Law with an emphasis in Constitutional Law. Rather than take the job in the high rise, James decided to partner with his best friend Nels Jensen. Together, they created Williamsburg Learning, a next-generation education model that combines the engagement of an exceptional brick-and-mortar classroom with the flexibility of online learning. James and Nels led development of The Williamsburg Curriculum, which blends great literature, critical thinking, a proprietary sequence of leadership courses, and the latest technologies. They also co-founded Williamsburg Adventures to guide students and educators in humanitarian and outdoor expeditions.
James lives in the desert of southern Utah with his wife Ange and their four children. He loves running, biking, climbing, literature, movies, rock concerts, yoga, and comedy nights with his nerdy friends. When he grows up he wants to run for office and promote meaningful education reforms.
Nels Peter JensenCEO & Co-Founder
Nels Peter Jensen
CEO & Co-Founder
My favorite people are my family, friends, and students. My favorite things are mountains, bicycles, and books. I love to do any activity that combines my favorite people and favorite things. I also love working with my team at Williamsburg to create high quality and flexible online learning options––options that weren’t available during my youth. Growing up I participated in both homeschool and public school. I am grateful to my parents for introducing me to some of the world’s great literature. Tom Sawyer and David Copperfield are two books that have significantly impacted my life. Although I had many excellent learning opportunities at home and in school, I longed for more interaction with like-minded peers and adults that had expertise in areas my parents didn’t and were passionate about life and learning. I find satisfaction and meaning in helping to provide a positive and challenging learning environment for our students.
I studied liberal arts in college and went on to earn an MBA from the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas. After Acton, I wanted to combine my passion for Socratic learning, educational entrepreneurship, and the outdoors. This led to my work as co-founder of Williamsburg Academy and Elevation Outdoors. I live in Saint George, Utah, with my wife and five children.
Gary ArnellIT Director
I grew up in southern California where I gained a love for the outdoors (especially the beach and Santa Monica mountains) early in life. I completed my undergraduate studies at Utah State University, where I studied business and computer science. After graduating I returned to southern California where I worked as a software engineer and project manager. For the last thirteen years, I’ve combined my passion for technology and education, working at schools in California and Utah.
I oversee all technology concerns for Williamsburg, including the in-house development of our Student Information Services website. I am married to the former Liesl Chambers. We reside with our six children in Cedar City, UT. I love young people and the outdoors–– I’m a volunteer in a local BSA troop and encourage the boys to spend as much time as possible in the beautiful red rock of southern Utah. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially if it involves canyoneering, hiking, backpacking, reading, and dancing.