Staff: School Year 2019-2020

Jacki Rice, B.S. — Middle School

Principal Educator

Jacki took the lead of our Middle School classroom beginning in 2019, bringing with her a wealth of experience as an educator and educational leader. She began teaching in 1986 after graduating from Lesley College in Cambridge, MA. She initially taught in special education, then kindergarten and first grade, and then for 16 years, 6th, 7th and 8th grade. She has served as a mentor teacher and participated in and led countless committees as well as served on school boards. She has taught all academic subjects and has a particular love for teaching theater. Jacki believes education is most authentic, meaningful and relatable with integrated, real world projects, lessons and activities. She says “I love creating curriculum with choices embedded, based on students’ interests. This gives students agency in their education and creates an intrinsic desire to learn. Within that, skills are developed, concepts are covered and rigorous standards are met.” In her spare time, Jacki loves to dance, read, create, hike, swim, garden, engage in improvisation, walk her dog, and spend time with her family.

Federal status: Highly Qualified Middle Grades Teacher
Arizona certifications: Middle Grades 5-8; additional approved area: English Language Arts

Tim Smith, M.A. – Math and Athletics

Athletic Director and Middle School Math Teacher

We were fortunate to hire Tim in 2018 just as he was completing his Master’s degree in Education from Western State Colorado University.  Tim is a dynamic, energetic, and patient educator who has taught a wide range of subjects to students of varying ages all around the globe.   He has taught high school at a juvenile detention center in Colorado, taught French in Canada, directed youth service programs in the state of Mississippi and the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and volunteered as a teacher at an orphanage in India. He lived for two years in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching health, English, sports and yoga to children and adults, and worked as an elementary teacher at an international school in Nicaragua. To further broaden his adventures, he rode a bicycle 3000 miles from Istanbul, Turkey to France.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a French minor from the University of Arizona.  Tim brings his cultural experiences of living abroad to the classroom, believing it is essential that we provide students the tools necessary to develop their mind, body, and spirit to better understand their role in this vast universe.

Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Arizona certifications: Standard Elementary, K-8; additional approved areas: Middle Grades Mathematics, Physical Education

Alexandra Winter, M.A. — Middle School

Facilitating Teacher

With a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College in New Mexico, Alex Winter joined us in the fall of 2019. She enjoys digging into humanities and English Language studies with our middle school students. She is certified in New Mexico for grades 6-12 English Language Arts, and is also a licensed yoga instructor. In addition, Alex has always had a love of science, and this year she is sharing her enthusiasm for that subject with the middle school students she teaches. Those who know Alex remark on her ability to connect with people of all ages and share her optimistic spirit.
Federal status: Highly Qualified Middle Grades Teacher
Montessori qualifications: In Montessori training for ages 12-15 through Cinncinati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program

Suzi Ashley, B.A. — Upper Elementary Classroom

Principal Educator

After an extensive search for just the right person to lead our Upper Elementary classroom (grades 4-6), we were thrilled to find Suzi Ashley, a teacher who particularly connects with this age group. Suzi joined us in 2017 after 15 years of teaching experience, including four years in Mexico.  With a B.A. in Education from Arizona State University, she is Arizona and Colorado state-certified to teach the elementary grades.  Those who know her refer to her as an excellent teacher who is creative and dynamic, keeping the students moving both physically and academically, and who is particularly strong at building collaborative relationships.  She teaches “to build better humans,” and enjoys using varied teaching strategies to address the learning needs of all her students.  In her spare time she loves running and travel—which may explain why the first marathon she ran was in Florence, Italy.  Suzi has spent time in 15 different countries and believes “the best way to understand a culture is to experience it first-hand.” Determined to deliver the best possible Montessori program here at Sedona Charter School, she spent the summer of 2018 in Tucson in an intensive program, working toward Montessori certification for ages 6 to 12.

Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Arizona certifications: Standard Elementary, K-8
Montessori qualifications: American Montessori Society certified for ages 9 through 12. Montessori trained for ages 6 through 12 at the Khalsa Montessori Teacher Education Program.

Maija Alanen, B.A. – Upper Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

Maija joined us in 2015 after spending three years in Scotland, where she developed the only elementary Montessori program in the country. Prior to that, she taught in Montessori schools in Alaska and Minnesota, and was a beloved teacher for 12 years at a Montessori elementary school in Henderson, Nevada.   Maija earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Luther College in Iowa, and she is one of a very few teachers to be Montessori certified to teach ages 3 to 12.  In her teaching, Maija emphasizes outdoor, experiential opportunities, peaceful collaboration, and academic excellence.  She says, “After three fascinating and fulfilling years teaching in Scotland, I was ready to come stateside and put down some roots once again. I chose Sedona because of the tremendous opportunity to work with a dedicated and committed staff in a school that demonstrates great integrity, academic excellence and global awareness in a caring and supportive environment. I enjoy sharing my love of Montessori and the world with the children of Sedona Charter School!”

Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Montessori qualifications: American Montessori Society certified for ages 3-12.  Trained through Mecca-Seton and Montessori Education Center of the Rockies
Arizona certifications: Standard Elementary, K-8

Lucy Hill, B.A. — Upper Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

Lucy joined us in 2019 after teaching at another Montessori school in Phoenix. Having spent her childhood in Sedona, Lucy enjoys teaching a new generation of Sedona youth. With a B.A. in Humanities from Northern Arizona University, she brings a broad world view to our students. Lucy has completed Montessori training for ages 3 to 6 through the Khalsa Montessori Teacher Education Program. When not in the classroom, Lucy enjoys painting, traveling, spending time with family, yoga, vegan cooking, hiking and reading.

Heidi Nila, B.A. — Upper Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

Heidi joined our school in August 2019 first as a student teacher. Her background in education began in 2012 when she worked as a paraprofessional supporting a student with cerebral palsy. Gaining an understanding that every student can achieve their goals when you meet them where they are, she earned an associates degree in General Education at Yavapai College, followed by a bachelors degree in Elementary Education at Northern Arizona University. Heidi was invited to join our team as a full-time teacher in January 2020 and happily accepted. She says “Scaffolding is so important and the method of learning we use with Montessori allows for us as teachers to really understand where each student is, meet them there, and build upon the knowledge they feel confident in. I experience the joy and beauty of ah-ha moments every single day. Sedona Charter School meets my wish for all students — an environment conducive to community that allows students to be hands on learners at their own pace.” In Heidi’s free time, she enjoys the gift of her three children, meditation, and a good book she can’t put down.
Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Arizona certifications: Standard Elementary, K-8

Jacquie Randall – Upper Elementary Classroom

Teaching Aide

Jacquie began helping out in the Upper Elementary classroom in 2015, and quickly become a key member of the staff.  As an aide, she helps students stay on task and helps ease the paperwork load on the teaching team.  Her bright spirit is infectious, and the whole classroom benefits from her tireless energy.  Jacquie’s history includes 12 years in school administration for students in elementary school through college in California–and 10 years sailing the world experiencing a variety of nautical adventures.  After moving to Sedona in 1991, Jacquie devoted herself to making the Sedona Humane Society a well-respected and effective organization:  She was Board President for 10 years, Volunteer Coordinator for six years, she coordinates the Kids and Kritters Summer Camp, and since 1998 she has written the “Paw Prints” column in the Sedona Red Rock News. We are indeed lucky to have such a multi-talented person working with our Upper Elementary students!

Katarina Houser, B.A. – Lower Elementary Classroom

Principal Educator

Katarina joined us in fall 2014 after working in a primary Montessori program in a district school setting. In 2018, she took on the role of Principal Educator for our Lower Elementary classroom.  Katarina has a masterful way of getting young children to focus on the task at hand while keeping them engaged with her infectious enthusiasm for a wide variety of subjects and activities. Katarina holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University, where she also studied English Education. She was raised in Sedona and actually attended Sedona Charter School. When she is not in the classroom, Katarina may be found hiking the trails of Sedona with her family.

Federal status: Highly Qualified Teacher – preschool through grade 3
Montessori qualifications: American Montessori Society certified for ages 6-9

Amy Tedrick, B.A. — Lower Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

After working part-time in the Lower Elementary classroom, Amy Tedrick joined the Lower Elementary teaching staff full-time in the 2016-2017 school year.  Though Amy has extensive experience working with people in retail settings, she found that jobs she enjoyed the most were working in classrooms as a member of the teaching staff, including one where she become skilled in American Sign Language.  With a son enrolled at Sedona Charter School, she knew this is where she is meant to be, helping students get the best possible start on their educational journey.  Amy has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Hofstra University in New York, and completed training for her Montessori teacher certification in the summer of 2018. She enjoys sharing her love of learning, crafts, and outdoor activities with the children of Sedona Charter School.

Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Montessori qualifications: American Montessori Society certified for ages 6-9

Amy Alexander, B.S. — Lower Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

In 2018 Amy joined us at Sedona Charter School to return to her first love — teaching — after spending seven years managing an organic farm and coffee plantation on the big island of Hawaii.  With a B.S. in Physical Education from Walla Walla University in Washington, she gives our Lower Elementary students a great foundation for physical fitness, healthy living, and scientific inquiry.  Prior to her move to Sedona, Amy spent four years teaching middle school family and consumer science. She particularly enjoys sharing cooking and career ideas with her students at Sedona Charter School.  An avid practitioner of yoga and meditation, Amy is known for her sunny disposition and ability to brighten the day of the children she is teaching.

Haley Seiber, B.Ed., Lower Elementary Classroom

Facilitating Teacher

Haley Seiber came all the way from Florida to join our Lower Elementary teaching team in 2019. Haley earned her degree in Educational Leadership from St. Petersburg College (Florida). There, she was introduced to the Montessori method during her senior year while interning in a Montessori School as an assistant. After graduation, she became a full time assistant and was immersed in what it is like to be a true Montessorian. Here at Sedona Charter School, Haley is happy to be a part of a team that shares her belief that “teaching children moral values that reflect empathy, respect, and compassion is very important as well as emphasizing individuality and independence in learning.” In her free time, Haley likes to be outdoors as much as possible, hiking and exploring nature. Her hobbies also include landscape and portrait photography as well as acrylic painting.

Dolores Biermann – Lower Elementary Classroom

Classroom Assistant

Dolores has been a presence at Sedona Charter School since 2000, when she began working in our office.  After 5 years, she took a brief retirement, but was soon back on campus as an invaluable member of our staff, helping ease the transition to school for our youngest students, and helping all of our staff stay organized.  In her spare time, Dolores enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling to see her children and grandchildren.

Kristina Beachell, M.M. – Orchestra & Strings Studies

Kristina joined us in February of 2011, bringing with her a strong background in music education that includes a B.A. in Music Education from Berklee College of Music in Boston; a Master’s degree in Music Education from Northern Arizona University with an emphasis in Suzuki pedagogy; Arizona state teaching certification in Music Education; five years as a strings instructor for grades 4-12 in Massachusetts public schools, four years as a Suzuki instructor for grades K-6 in Flagstaff public schools, and an ongoing role as a master teacher at the NAU Community Music and Dance Academy for ages 3 to 16. Kristina’s diverse musical background includes singing with the Boston Conservatory Choir and the ASH Jazz Choir, touring and recording with rock and jazz bands, and performing leading roles in dramatic and musical productions. She firmly believes that developing the performing arts in a child is vital to cultivating intellectual growth. She shares her passion with her students, and leads them to inspirational achievements: In 2020, her students will perform in an invitational music festival at Carnegie Hall. As one parent summed up, “she is a force of nature.”

Federal status: Highly Qualified Music Teacher grades K-12
Arizona certifications: Standard Professional PreK-12 Music Education

Bob Wentsch, M.S. – Reading and Math Tutor

After serving for 22 years as our founding Lower Elementary (grades 1-3) Principal Educator, Bob decided to slow down just a little in the fall of 2018 and move to a part-time position.  Now he works with small groups of students in grades 4 to 8, helping them strengthen skills and knowledge in reading and math as part of our Title 1 program. Before moving to Sedona, Bob and his wife Terri founded and operated the Rivendell School in Colorado for 17 years. Bob began his career in the Teacher Corps in Iowa at the same he was studying at Drake University for his M.S. in Education, with a focus on Effective Teaching.  Bob enjoys playing cello, gardening, horseback riding, reading, and, after educating a generation of students here in Sedona, reconnecting with former students and hearing about their life, learning, and adventures after Sedona Charter School.

Federal status: Highly Qualified K-8 Teacher
Montessori qualifications: American Montessori Society certified for ages 6-9. Trained through CMTE/NY
Arizona certifications: Standard Elementary, K-8
Endorsements: Reading Specialist and Structured English Immersion, K-12

Alice Madar, B.A. – Director, Finance & Admin

Alice has been involved with the operation of Sedona Charter School since 1997. After two years as President of the Governing Council and as project manager for the Kachina campus construction, Alice was hired as Business Administrator in 2001. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of California at Davis, studied in the M.A. program for Print Journalism at the University of Southern California, and has completed the Arizona Association of School Business Officials coursework for school business specialists. Before moving to Sedona Alice worked in San Francisco, where she edited a national sports magazine and developed publications for companies that included Hewlett-Packard, Levi-Strauss, and Pacific Telesis. She has found her true passion serving Sedona Charter School, helping to ensure that other children will benefit from the outstanding educational experience her own son received at the school. As Director of Finance and Administration, she oversees finance, facilities, and administrative operations outside the classrooms.  You may often find her writing another grant to fund some of our extracurricular programs, or networking with colleagues across the country on current education issues, or reaching out to a parent or community member who can share their knowledge or skills with our students.  In her spare time Alice enjoys hiking, dog training, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Stephanie Knight, B.A.– Financial Assistant

A graduate of Sedona Red Rock High School, Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Arts in English, along with certificates in Creative Writing and Literature from Northern Arizona University in 2017. She has a true love for Sedona and is grateful to be working at Sedona Charter School.
Stephanie has always loved to read, and you will find her in a corner reading during most of her free time. She also loves to write and aspires to write Christian fiction.

Jannette Villalobos-Gil — Registrar

After 10 years working as support staff in the behavioral health field, Jannette joined our administrative team in 2017.  She greets everyone with a warm smile and an offer to help — and her fluency in Spanish has proven to be invaluable.  She manages our electronic student files, which is a vast, complex, and constantly evolving job.  When not in the office, Jannette enjoys spending time with her family and walking and playing with her dog.