Traveling School Faculty

Traveling School

We hire highly qualified teachers who have teaching certifications, advanced degrees, and/or extensive relevant experience. We aim to create an ethnically and culturally diverse staff by choosing experienced applicants and incorporating instructors, teachers and volunteers from local regions while we are overseas. Faculty are required to attend an eight-day faculty orientation prior to the semester. This faculty training is compulsory, regardless of the length of time worked with TTS. The training addresses: risk management; mission and culture; educational philosophy, legal obligations; outdoor education standards; site management concepts; safety education; international travel protocols; student participants; crisis response; wilderness and international medicine; leadership; decision-making in international programming; and behavioral issues. Additionally all teachers are required to have current Wilderness First Responder certification.

Current Faculty

Danika RobisonLead Teacher & Program Coordinator
  • Base Camp: Vermont
  • Spring Semester, South America 2016 & 2017
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2017
Danika grew up in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in International Affairs and Government. She also led and captained the women’s tennis team in college, and spent a semester studying international relations and social justice in Geneva, Switzerland. Danika has participated in NOLS’ semester for outdoor educators, led a self-supported cross country bike trip for teenagers for Apogee Adventures, and led backpacking and service learning trips in the Southwest for Deer Hill Expeditions. Wanting to mix her love of experiential education with her international interests, Danika has since been living and working in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. She currently spends her summers with the Tandana Foundation in Otavalo, Ecuador, where she is a program coordinator. There she works with local indigenous communities to collaborate on infrastructure projects, and supports student groups through immersive exchange programs. Danika believes strongly in the power of international experiences to challenge perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. She appreciates working abroad with students and with the Traveling School for the opportunities to form cross-cultural friendships, and gain understandings of communities very different from our own. If she is not teaching or traveling, you can find Danika seeking running, mountain biking or ski trails, and plotting her next South American adventure.

Abigail HunterAcademic Teacher & Logistics Coordinator
  • Base Camp: California
  • Spring Semester, South America 2017
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2017

A California native, Abigail grew up in Marin County enjoying everything the outdoors had to offer. She began traveling at a young age with her family and quickly caught on to the inspiration found in the unknown. Leaving the West behind, Abigail attended Amherst College where she received a B.A in History and an African Studies Certificate. While at Amherst, Abigail also spent extensive time with the English department exploring her passion for literature and creative writing. She served as a Student Health Educator for three years, helping to expand peer driven education further into mental health issues and creating more dialogue amongst women of the Amherst community surrounding health. Since college, Abigail has lived, worked, and traveled in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, California, Switzerland, Kentucky, Nepal, Alaska, Colorado, France and Spain. Following her passion for teaching and the outdoors she spent three summers leading backpacking and wilderness trips for Overland Summers, including Alaska Leadership, an outdoor curriculum driven program which seeks to empower students with the tools and leadership skills to navigate, travel and camp safely in the backcountry. She believes that these unique, alternative educational settings draw out the best in students as they look to one another as teachers and leaders and strive to find comfort in creativity. Abigail is currently working as a guide for Backroads in France and Spain, where she spends her time sharing her passion for history, local culture, croissants and bikes. Abigail will teach Literature and Composition and Algebra 2 as well as heading up the Global Studies class and team teaching PE this semester.

Ali BrooksAcademic Teacher
  • Base Camp: Montana & New Hampshire
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2017

Ali grew up on a farm in Norwich, VT and spent her childhood horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, and camping in the Green mountains. In high school Ali discovered her passion for rowing, while also coaching a middle school basketball team. She also began to delve into international travel, participating in language- and researched-based exchange programs in Spain and Costa Rica. Ali attended Emory University in Atlanta, where she pursued her rowing career to a national championship in 2012 and served on the team’s executive board. Ali graduated with a dual degree in Environmental Studies and African Studies, and a focus on Sustainable Agriculture. While in college Ali studied in Tanzania for a semester through the School for International Training. She completed a course of study in Political Ecology and Wildlife Conservation, learned Kiswahili, and conducted an anthropological study in a rural Maasai village in the northern part of the country. Ali also spent a summer conducting marine research on South Caicos island with the School for Field Studies. After college, Ali moved to Big Sky, Montana. In the winters, she worked as a ski instructor and ran the weekly ski programs for local youth, and spent her summers as a ranch guide in Yellowstone National Park leading horseback riding trips. She holds her Alpine Level II and Children’s Specialist Level II certifications through the Professional Ski Instructors of America, as well as certifications in Avalanche Safety, Yellowstone Outfitter Guiding, and Wilderness First Response. In 2015, Ali led a group of high school students on a summer study abroad program with The Experiment in International Living. In La Paz, Mexico, the students explored Baja’s marine ecosystems, immersed themselves in Mexican culture, and lived with local families. Last spring Ali moved back to her old New England stomping grounds to begin teaching for the Appalachian Mountain Club. She is now an educator for A Mountain Classroom, a hiking-based Environmental Education program in the White Mountains. In her free time Ali loves to read books, trail run, cook, backpack, ski, and be outside whenever possible.

Savannah JohnsonAcademic Teacher
  • Base Camp: Illinois
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2017

Savannah grew up between Boston and Chicago before earning her degree in Sociology from Colorado College where she also minored in Feminist and Gender Studies and Global Education. During college, she co-chaired CC’s Feminist Collective and Student Organization for Sexual Safety, founded a sexual education group dedicated to promoting healthy relationships and communication, traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and South America, made documentary films in Liberia and the Occupied West Bank, and studied bilingual education and social movements in Santiago, Chile. Her insatiable travel bug has continued after graduation, and prior to joining the TTS team, Savannah worked with students of all ages around the world as an apprentice for High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, Literature faculty for Modern American School in Amman, Jordan, an Admissions Consultant for African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, and as a Walking Tree Travel program leader in Peru, Thailand, and Central America. She is fluent in Spanish, currently learning Arabic, and loves to pick up as much local dialect as she can while traveling. Savannah is particularly passionate about girls’ education, global/experiential/wilderness education, social justice, storytelling, and West African dance forms, and she is so excited to combine these passions with a group of rad ladies this semester.

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Meredith Bannon
  • Base Camp: New York
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2015
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2016

Meredith grew up in New York and spent most of her time either at school or in the swimming pool. She attended Duke University and majored in her favorite subject, mathematics. While there, she was the Captain of the Women’s Varsity Swim Team and broke five school records. After college, she traveled to Mali, West Africa and spent two years as an Education and Community Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps.  She is fluent in Dogon and also speaks Bambara and French. Her main projects focused on women’s and girls’ empowerment. Meredith has a passion for learning about new cultures, something that she finds is best done by traveling rather than reading a textbook. Most recently, she was a mathematics and physics teacher in the South Bronx at an International High School for recent immigrants. Meredith is in the process of completing her Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education at Teachers College of Columbia University. Free time is hard to come by, but when not teaching or studying, Meredith tours the country on her bicycle, goes for long runs, and explores the wilderness. This is Meredith’s second semester as a Traveling School teacher; she believes girls’ education is the key to a brighter future.

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Beth Billington
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Spring Semester, South America 2014
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2014
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2015, 2016
Beth grew up exploring Minnesota’s Twin Cities and spent high school playing sports and working on political campaigns. She attended Bates College in Maine and graduated with honors in Philosophy and Spanish Literature. Competing at the varsity level four years, Beth captained her college volleyball team senior year. She also worked as a fellow with the Office of the Chaplain, organizing and creating the direction of religious and spiritual affairs and events on campus. During her college summers, Beth worked as a raft guide in the Southeast US and developed her whitewater canoe skills. Beth was an exchange student in Lima, Peru where she cultivated her fascination with foreign immersion, fortified her language skills, and fell in love with Peruvian food. Upon return from her study abroad, Beth became a teaching assistant in the Spanish department at Bates. Upon graduation, she traveled to Argentina to work on organic farms before moving to Big Sky, Montana to become a ski instructor, passionate freeskier, and most recently, professional ski patroller. She spent a summer leading overseas academic treks for teens with Broadreach in Central America. During her international teaching career, she has explored a dozen countries with nearly 70 students. In addition to working as a Wilderness EMT, Beth holds certifications in Wilderness First Response, Outdoor Emergency Care, Swiftwater Rescue, Alpine and Telemark Skiing Instruction, Avalanche Safety, Zipline and High Ropes Course Management and Rescue, and Open Water SCUBA Diving. Beth’s personal interests include: gourmet cooking, trail running, backpacking, harmonica playing, and neurophilosophy. Entering her fourth semester with the Traveling School, Beth is excited about learning alongside young women as they take an opportunity to expand their academic horizons and broaden their world knowledge. She is attracted to The Traveling School’s emphasis on academic rigor alongside outdoor adventure. She believes these experiences, in the context of overseas travel, provide a healthy atmosphere for girls to develop a desire to change the world for the better.

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Dawn Card M.
  • Base Camp: Florida
  • Spring Semester, South America 2007
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2007, 2008

Dawn recently relocated back to South Florida from Brazil where she and her husband taught at the American School of Rio de Janeiro. They also had two children while in Brazil, Sophia and Joseph. Dawn has a Master’s Degree in International Intercultural Education from Florida International University and a BS degree in Geology from the University of North Carolina. Before working in the classroom, Dawn worked as a humanitarian aid worker for the America Red Cross.  She worked as a Relief Coordinator following the Indonesian Tsunami, in New York following 9/11, in El Salvador for earthquake response, and several times in Washington DC fulfilling several roles. Dawn also served three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, developing a program for educators on how to incorporate Environmental Education into their current curriculum in coordination with the Ministry of Education of El Salvador.

Vicki Cavanaugh

Victoria Cavanaugh
  • Base Camp: El Salvador
  • Spring Semester, South America 2014
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2015

A native of Massachusetts, Victoria Cavanaugh holds majors in history, philosophy, and theology from Boston College.  While studying at the University of Central America during her junior year abroad, Victoria had the opportunity to live at the COAR orphanage in rural Zaragoza, El Salvador.  While teaching music and English, she in turn learned Spanish and soccer lessons from the children of COAR.  On a deeper level, the children’s difficult but hopeful stories and realities inspired her to begin researching education and economics practice and policy issues in El Salvador and the region.  In 2006, Victoria founded Nuestro Ahora, Inc., a nonprofit which currently provides full scholarships for Salvadoran youth, allowing them to finish high school and pursue a university education while living in intentional community and engaging in service work.  After finishing her own undergraduate studies, Victoria returned to Central America to direct the scholarship program and pursue a Master’s in Education Policy and Administration. In addition to her work with Nuestro Ahora, she enjoys teaching literature and economics at the International School of San Salvador as well as history at the Instituto Americano de Educación Superior.  Previously she has taught with the Upward Bound Program at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in New England.  In her free time, she enjoys running road and trail races, watersports, traveling, and film.

 

Lander Cooney
Lander Cooney Former Board Member
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Spring Semester, South America 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Campus Visit, South America 2008
Lander has a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Montana State University in Bozeman and hopes to be a student and a teacher for the remainder of her life. Lander led TTS trips in South America from 2003 to 2005.  Lander is steadfast in instilling a sense of love and wonder for the scientific aspects of the outside world while working with her students.

While earning her undergraduate degree in Biology from The Colorado College, Lander directed the outdoor program and developed the leadership-training curriculum for student outdoor leaders. Her love for the intertwined subjects of environment, culture, and science has led her to teach in outdoor classrooms around the world. Lander is intrigued by the mountains, rivers and canyons of the Rocky Mountain West and spent many summer months in the field empowering students to discover the amazing cultures and natural places hidden in southwestern Colorado. Lander has traveled in Europe, worked to build a health center in the Dominican Republic and spent three months volunteering with a community education project in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Lander speaks Spanish, has been a certified Wilderness EMT, and a trained Whitewater Rescue Technician. Currently Lander is the CEO of Community Health Partners, a nonprofit community health clinic network that serves 9,400 patients annually in Gallatin and Park counties.

She believes that when students participate in small community life, it teaches them the values of personal responsibility, tolerance and communication, and extending these skills to the global classroom gives students awareness about sustainability, and their roles within global ecology.

Allegra Fisher
Allegra Fisher
  • Base Camp: California
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2011
  • Spring Semester, South America 2012
Allegra Fisher currently lives in San Francisco and works for a business that helps small businesses go solar by providing financing. She also consults for another startup company that makes, distributes, and finances small home solar kits for rural customers in East Africa. Allegra graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts honors degree in Ecology and Development from Harvard University. She designed her own major tailored to examine human-environment interactions and how to increase their sustainability, including an honors thesis on the role of women in community forestry in Nepal. She also has a Level 1 License in Secondary Education, with a focus in science from Western New Mexico University. Her teaching experience includes the School for International Training in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she studied Nepali culture and language and issues in the development of Nepal. She also worked for the Teach for America Summer Institute where she was selected from applicants nationwide to join a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced public schools. Allegra has also taught science on a reservation in New Mexico. She has also worked with several organizations leading outdoor adventures, helping her develop her outdoor skills, medical training, Leave No Trace ethics, and leadership. “I want to help my students fall as much in love with the world as I am. I want to help students see the world as a fascinating, intriguing place, and to help them process sometimes difficult experiences so that their experience is a positive one.” Allegra has advanced proficiency in Spanish and French, and also speaks conversational Nepali.  Allegra’s personal interests include: public service, telemark skiing, running, mountain biking, climbing, sailing, gardening, photography, and experiential education.
Heather Foran
Heather Foran
  • Base Camp: Maine
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2007
  • Spring Semester, South America 2007, 2008, 2010
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2011
  • Visiting Senior Instructor, Spring Semester, South America 2014
Heather’s passion for travel began at age 13, when a family friend brought her to Guatemala City. Since then, her exploration of economic, social, and environmental issues has led her to travel both personally and professionally around the world. She earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Neuroscience from Williams College, and in the course of those studies spent time with a medicine woman on an Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota, studied traditional medicine with a Quechua shaman in Cusco, Peru, and explored faith communities in Honduras and Nicaragua. Heather is currently a candidate for a masters in Environmental Studies at Prescott College. Throughout her education, she has continuously sought opportunities to travel, and she feels that spending time with people from varied racial, cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds is the most important education that she could receive.
In addition to her work at The Traveling School, Heather also used her Spanish fluency and worked as a translator and trip leader for many groups traveling in Latin America, and additionally acted as a liaison for a partner program with a vocational school in Honduras.
Heather holds a Permaculture Design certificate, and she worked as the Education Coordinator and Summer Camp Director at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, an educational farm in Freeport, Maine. She oversaw a program that served over 15,000 people in the course of a year, and directed a summer camp staff of 10 counselors and 20 junior counselors. In addition, she managed and cared for the farm’s sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits.

Heather also has an extensive facilitation and peer counseling background. She is the youngest international corporate coach for Coverdale, Inc. She is a certified Myers-Briggs practitioner and has led workshops facilitating communications between parents and teens using Myers-Briggs. While at Williams College, Heather coordinated the Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline for three years, designing and facilitating trainings in peer counseling and crisis management. Heather has taught classes in outdoor skills and adventure, leadership, group dynamics, canoeing, and kayaking. She has led whitewater canoeing, backpacking, and mountain biking wilderness trips all throughout New England, as well as internationally. Heather is a founder of the Field Academy in Maine, “Our vision for the Field Academy is an academically rigorous, educationally innovative high school in which students use the United States as their classroom, and its diverse people and places as their textbook.” Heather believes that The Traveling School is the perfect environment to look critically at our global role, while at the same time creating and strengthening the small community that surrounds us.

Caroline Goodman
  • Base Camp: New Mexico
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2012, 2016
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2013
In 2016 Caroline completed her Masters in American Studies at the University of New Mexico where she critically questioned how modern formations of U.S. nation-state power operate domestically and abroad through the lens of indigeneity. She traveled to Palestine to take part in a Field School that works towards producing decolonized knowledge about Israel/Palestine. During her undergraduate studies at Vassar College, Caroline spent her junior year studying at Dine College on the Navajo Nation in Tsaile, Arizona where she took classes in Navajo language, history and culture, as well as moccasin-making and silver-smithing. Caroline graduated with a B.A in American Culture with an emphasis on Native American Studies. Caroline’s interest in indigenous social justice have been greatly influenced by her experiences at the Traveling School and in outdoor education in general.

Caroline first fell in love with adventure and education during high school when she spent part of each summer at Deer Hill Expeditions – an outdoor expedition company based in Mancos, Colorado that incorporates cross-cultural service projects on the Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni Nations. Caroline has spent 10+ years working for Deer Hill as a Program Leader and Staff Trainer, traveling and adventuring in the Southwest U.S. Caroline has also worked in Alaska in the Kenai Fjords and traveled to Kenya to work as an intern for a public health non-profit.

Education is another of Caroline’s passions. She worked as a humanities teacher at Colorado Timberline Academy in Durango, Colorado prior to working for TTS, teaching high school English and Social Studies as well as guiding her students on rafting, canyoneering, backpacking, skiing and climbing trips throughout the Southwest. Throughout her graduate studies, Caroline worked as a Learning Strategist for the Center for Academic Program Support at UNM, mentoring tutors and peer educators on collaborative learning techniques and teaching strategies. She also works as a curriculum specialist for The Traveling School, helping to create Humanities curriculum for the semesters. Currently, she is working in outdoor education in Colorado and California and looking towards a PhD program in critical geography. Caroline’s hobbies include yoga, mountain biking, trail running, and backcountry skiing with her dog Hank.

“The Traveling School is so special because of its sincere and earnest commitment to teaching girls to think critically about the world while also cultivating in them a desire for independence and a love of adventure. They do all this while nurturing kindness, acceptance and inclusivity among girls at an age where being exclusive, unkind, and judgmental is the norm.”

Anna Graves
  • Base Camp: Wyoming
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2016

Anna is a California native, but spent most of her youth in Nashville, TN. Her family valued the term ‘global citizen’ above all else, so she spent her childhood on the move. She took a Gap Year dedicated to learn skills. She worked on a small organic farm, a commercial fishing boat, and trained as a baker. She headed to the Northeast for college, looking for fall foliage and serious winters. She graduated with BA in Political Science. While at Skidmore College she ran the outdoor program and founded a Farm Spring Break and Sophomore (re)Orientation program. During college she spent time abroad in Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, New Zealand, and South Africa. Since college, Anna has worked as an outdoor educator with National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She believes in the power of experiential learning and has found the outdoors to be an exciting and challenging platform. She has spent her winters as a dog musher, challenging herself in new temperatures and deep powder. Anna is passionate about female community and all female learning environments. She is excited to be part of a community of strong females and global learners.

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Gennifre HartmanFounder & Former Executive Director
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2003, 2004, 2006
  • Spring Semester, South America 2003
  • Campus Visits: South America 2004, 2012; New Zealand 2006; South-West Africa 2007; South-East Africa 2010, 2012

As a high school student, Gennifre once found her own life transformed by an academic year overseas. She has since devoted her life to teaching and introducing youth to the adventures of outdoor skills and foreign travel. She holds a Master’s degree in English Education from the University of Montana, has taught English at the college level, and worked in traditional academic fields and as an outdoor educator.  She has worked as an adjunct professor, a high school Principal, and as an English Department Head, in addition to traditional teaching in a high school environment.

She has traveled extensively around the world and has visited more foreign countries than US states. She has led expeditions with high school students to New Zealand, southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America. Gennifre has made cultural awareness and responsibility a key aspect in her life. In addition to running international programs in the field, she is experienced in backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, scuba diving, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, caving, and telling stories.

Jen Sarna Herdina
Jen Sarna Herdina
  • Base Camp: Minnesota
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2012
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2013

While originally from Chicago, Jen can now be found wandering the bluffs surrounding the Mississippi River in Minnesota with her husband and fun-loving Siberian Husky, Kota.  She has a true passion for travel and continuously fills her free time trying to experience as much as life has to offer.  She has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Biology and Spanish from Winona State University, and a Master’s Degree in Instruction from St. Mary’s University. Jen truly loves to learn about the world and will always see herself as an everlasting student.  As a teacher, Jen loves spending time with her students exploring the environment and appreciating how all species are interconnected throughout the world.  She spent several years as the only teacher of an Alternative Learning Center for at risk youth before expanding her classroom to upper level biology and environmental science classes.  Jen is extremely appreciative of the time she has with her students discovering the world beyond the borders of their school, and always looks forward to the unexpected surprises that each adventure creates. Jen believes that the best way to learn anything is to get outside of your comfort zone and really let the world teach you everything it has to offer.

While exploring science is a never-ending venture in itself, Jen loves meeting people and learning about their cultures even more.  This desire to really understand people from all walks of life has provided Jen with the opportunity to lead both student and adult trips throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, Australia, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.  She has also launched her own adventure travel academy called, Global Treks and Adventures, which leads students on sailing trips in the Apostle Islands, the Puget Sound, French Polynesia, and the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Australia. Living aboard a sailboat has provided her rare moments to appreciate such as getting away from the mainland to watch playful seals or the vast colors of Aurora Borealis.  Every place Jen visits simply reveals again and again how truly amazing the world is, and how there is so much of the world yet to be experienced.

In the fall of 2014, Jen joined the faculty of Saint Mary’s University of MN working with students in the First Generation Initiative. The Initiative supports students attending college for the first time in their families, and creates experiential learning opportunities to foster growth and leadership development.

Jen says, “With the world at our fingertips, we never know who we may meet along the way or which day will turn out to be completely life-changing.”

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Claire Hirschmann
  • Base Camp: Washington
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2006, 2007
  • Spring Semester, South America 2007, 2008

In early 1996, Claire and her parents bought a VW camper van and spent the following five months exploring Europe. They ranged the continent, visiting twenty-three countries, from Portugal to Bulgaria, Slovenia to Greece, Turkey to Norway. She was thirteen, and her school consisted entirely of a math textbook and the road. From that experience, Claire learned that some of the best learning happened at the most unexpected moments and some of the best teaching came from the most unlikely people.

Since then, Claire has been devoted to learning, adventuring, leading, and finding ways to combine all three.  Claire earned a B.A. in English from Yale University, where she participated in Community Health Educators, captained the Yale Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team, and co-directed the Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips.  After graduating, Claire worked at a dude ranch in northern Colorado, participated in the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Outdoor Education semester, and apprenticed at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado.  Claire earned a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she focused on school leadership and development.  Galvanized by her work with the Traveling School, Claire co-founded the Field Academy, a traveling high school program that focuses on creating transformative, place-based, and community-driven educational experiences for students and educators within the United States.  Claire revels in immersing herself and her students in their surroundings, whether by reenacting an Ecuadorian presidential assassination in the middle of Old Town Quito, shouting poetry off the southern-most tip of Africa, or taking a quiet moment with a student to talk personally and reflectively.

Inspired by her work abroad and in the United States, determined to learn more about the world, and dedicated to serving others with care and insight, Claire recently completed the Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program at Goucher College and is currently applying to medical schools.

Bekah Hykan
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2015

Born and raised in Colorado, Bekah grew up exploring the mountains and high deserts and developed a deep love of wild places.  Bekah attended college at Willamette University in Oregon, where she received a BA in Cultural Anthropology.  After her first year at Willamette, Bekah spent the summer traveling in South Africa and studying how social movements developed and evolved in post-apartheid South Africa.  This experience ignited Bekah’s passion for travel and lead her to spend her junior year abroad with the International Honors Program studying globalization and alternative development in Tanzania, India, New Zealand and Mexico.  Bekah returned to the United States to write her thesis on “community resilience”.  As part of her thesis research, Bekah traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia to participate in the World People’s Summit on Climate Change.  After college Bekah spent five months in Northern California working trail crew on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Bekah has worked with students in a wide variety of settings, from teaching in a Montessori School to guiding girls on multi-week wilderness adventures.  Bekah believes that our best learning comes from people, places and personal experiences.  She is very excited to join the Traveling School team and fuse her passions for place-based education, adventure and intentional community living.  Bekah is currently living in Mancos, CO and completing her Masters in Education through Prescott College. When she is not teaching or traveling, Bekah is most likely in the garden, attempting pottery or playing with her puppy in the mountains.

Shannon Jakes
  • Base Camp: Arizona
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2008, 2009
  • Spring Semester, South America 2010
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2011
  • Campus Visit, South America 2012
Shannon Jakes has a BA from University of Montana in Japanese and Spanish with a focus on Literature. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese, and has traveled extensively as a student and a teacher. Her passion for travel and cultural interaction began when she spent her junior year of high school abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has since traveled and lived in various locations around the world, some of which include, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil and most of Europe. She taught English and Yoga in Japan, and was a Corps Member of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps based out of Denver, Colorado. She also worked for two summers as a Tutor Leader for Rural Employment Opportunities, facilitating as well as participating in the education of bilingual math to the children of the migrant workers in the Flathead Valley. She worked as a Weekend Team Leader and Direct Care Staff at Montana Academy, a therapeutic boarding school that emphasizes both treatment and education. She takes the students out on outdoor activities, facilitates service projects on campus, participates in group therapy, and acts as a mentor; all while helping the students become engaged with their education and life again. Also, Shannon has worked as a private instructor in Japan, Brazil and South Africa. Currently she is a Spanish Teacher and Dorm Head at Verde Valley School in Sedona, AZ.  She has a strong outdoor adventure background, including: sailing, rock-climbing, backpacking, and mountain biking.

“The Traveling School takes teenage girls around the world to teach them skills and offer them experiences that give them perspective on their own lives and culture, while also inspiring them to take an active part in helping our global community attain peace, and understanding the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem. I am honored to be part of an organization that shares the same morals, beliefs and goals as I do.”

Rachel JohnsonAcademic Teacher
  • Base Camp: Minnesota
  • Spring Semester, South America 2016

A Minnesota native, Rachel graduated from Carleton College with a BA in Geology and a Spanish minor. While at Carleton, she was actively involved on campus, captaining the varsity volleyball team, working as a geology teaching assistant, and co-leading a water activism group. While studying abroad in Lima, Peru, she fell in love with travel and Spanish, and became interested in the connections between sustainability and development. Her experiences in Peru led her to pursue research abroad programs: in Belize studying biogeoscience and human-environmental interactions on the Belize Barrier Reef and in China learning about agroecology and investigating how farmers make decisions regarding land usage. After college, Rachel moved to Peru for a year, interning for The School for Field Studies. With their Peru Biodiversity and Development in the Andes – Amazon semester program, she led college students in field work in tropical ecology, conservation biology, Spanish, and culture studies. Rachel believes in life-changing empowerment sparked by travel, cultural exchange, experiential learning, and strong community. In the summers, Rachel works as an international trip leader for Overland Summers, guiding language, service, and hiking trips in Spain, Ecuador, the Galapagos, and Peru. During the fall of 2015, she worked in Maine as a residential assistant and Marine Science teaching assistant with Coastal Studies for Girls semester school. In her free time, Rachel can be found cooking with some great tunes, relaxing by a lake, running, biking, swimming, or curled up with a good book.

Brenna Kelleher
Brenna Kelleher
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2012, 2013
Brenna Kelleher grew up in Big Sky, Montana enjoying the unique opportunities of a small outdoor-oriented community. She traveled the world while studying with Adventure Quest Academy during high school, trekking over 300 miles in Nepal with her high school textbooks in her backpack and having classes in the Himalayas each day. After high school, she returned home to study at Montana State University where she received a B.A Degree in English Literature. In addition to earning her pilot’s license, Brenna continued to follow her passions post college, working as a summer wrangler and winter ski instructor.

Brenna is a strong outdoor educator, teaching students technical outdoor skills from skiing to kayaking, and helping them understand outdoor and leadership safety. Brenna is also a kayak instructor for Wave Train Kayak Team, a youth paddling program. After years of competitive kayaking in Canada, Europe and the U.S, Brenna now finds solitude on the river with friends and family during her free time. Brenna has extensive experience traveling abroad in numerous developing countries from her kayaking, trekking, studying, and personal endeavors through Africa, Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Leah KnickerbockerAcademic Dean & Program Director
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2008, 2009, 2011
  • Spring Semester, South America 2010
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2010

Leah first joined the Traveling School as a faculty member in 2008. After leading five semesters for The Traveling School, she brought her wealth of experience and expertise to the Bozeman office. Leah has a Master’s Degree from Montana State University with a focus in Science Education, and she received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University with a combined major in Environmental Studies and Geology. Leah has significant experience in outdoor education as a Lead Instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. She has also led trips and managed programs for organizations such as Outward Bound, Montana Outdoor Science School, the Athenian School and Polar Bears International. Additionally, Leah’s 12 years of working for non-profit organizations includes program management, event planning, and philanthropy. Leah believes that developing into a well-rounded local and global citizen requires opportunities for new experiences and challenges. The Traveling School provides these opportunities and supports students in their development as truly global citizens. Leah spends her free time exploring the mountains of Montana with her husband and friends – whether by foot, bike or ski.

Cara Kropp
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, South America 2008
It is important to Cara that she follow her passions in life – her two main passions are education and the natural world. A Magma Cum Laude graduate from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Sociology and Human Services, Cara has worked extensively in outdoor education and experiential education schools. With an interest in creative writing and film, she has taught Psychology, Spanish, and a myriad of other subjects to high school students in traditional classrooms.

Her strength and experience in outdoor education includes an expertise in teaching conservation ethics, leave-no-trace, and leadership. She is also a skilled rock-climbing instructor, and has experience teaching and leading courses in on-trail and off-trail navigation, trip planning, risk management camp coordination, group dynamics, team building and leadership. Cara is also a mountain biking enthusiast and has substantial alpine mountaineering experience.

Cara’s international travel experience includes personal trips throughout Europe, China and Central America. She also recently completed an extensive journey throughout Africa. Cara believes that education is a constant process and believes that students thrive when they push forward to gain a better understanding about themselves and the world.

Whitney Lonsdale
Whitney Lonsdale
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Interim Executive Director Fall 2007
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2009
  • Campus Visits: South America 2004; New Zealand 2006; South-West Africa 2007
Bilingual in Spanish with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, Whitney’s perspective on the world changed when she spent a year studying in Spain during college. She has since dedicated herself to teaching and working with students in outdoor and international education. Whitney is currently master’s degree candidate at Cornell.

Her professional experience includes working as a high school Principal, as an Associate Head of School, as the Head of the Spanish Department, and helping to create and run an alternative private high school in Vermont. During the start-up for this school from 1996-1999 Whitney researched and developed an academic program designed to create an educational environment which allowed high school students to study issues dealing with localities, and problems and issues relevant to conservation and development. Using this high school, Whitney helped develop educational values to enable her students to help solve problems in local communities, while fulfilling their traditional high school academic requirements.
Whitney has worked with curriculum development, academic advising, student mentoring, and classroom teaching. She also has experience working with at-risk youth wilderness programs. Whitney has traveled extensively and has led international and outdoor programs for students in South America, Africa, New Zealand, Central America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Whitney is also one of the world’s top female whitewater kayakers, and placed fifth in the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships in 2001. Whitney is dedicated to providing girls with the same opportunities that have enriched her own life: skill in the outdoors, education, and exhilarating travel experiences.

LizMacNeilBioPhoto

Liz MacNeil
  • Base Camp: California & Panama
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2013

Liz graduated in 2002 from Sierra Nevada College as Valedictorian and obtained a BA in Humanities with concentrations in English/Literature and World Indigenous People.  Her first call to adventure was to Costa Rica in 2003, where she fell in love with experiential education, Spanish, and Central American culture during her two years instructing for Costa Rica Outward Bound School – an outdoor adventure-based experiential education school.  Since then, Liz has been developing, leading, and coordinating various outdoor, service, and experiential-based programs for a myriad of national and international organizations, schools, and commercial outfitters.  In addition, she has acquired over 1,000 days working in the field with various populations, and is a certified TEFL teacher, Wilderness First Responder w/ CPR, an Advanced Open Water Diver, and an Open Water Life Guard.  Liz is also a professional ACA Sea Kayak Instructor/Guide and Marine Naturalist who has left her wake in every ocean but the Arctic, and, most recently in Coiba National Marine Park, Panama.  As an avid traveler, her base camp has become where she lays her head at night, but finds herself back in the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada to raid her storage unit between work and travels.  When she’s not leading trips, Liz can be found exploring new places, playing outside, singing monster rock ballads at open mics, and breaking taco-eating records in obscure port towns.

Liz explains, “My interest in The Traveling School stems from my passion for experiential education, my strong belief in service learning and outdoor education, and my enjoyment from working with young women.  I feel that the purpose of education, whether it is in or out of the classroom, is to give students the tools to make informed conscious decisions, to live their lives with passion and understanding, and to find their personal niche in our ever-changing global community.   Furthermore, I believe that through service, traveling, and the outdoors, we are pushed into our challenge zones giving us a greater sense of self and leaving us with a stronger awareness and understanding of our place in this world.”

Clara Maeder
  • Base Camp: Washington DC
  • Spring Semester, South America 2016

Clara was born and raised in Washington DC. She attended Bates College in Maine where she graduated with honors in Politics and minors in Education and Spanish. She spent a year in South America, during which she studied community development in Bolivia and investigated the ongoing student movement in Chile. Clara returned to Chile to conduct research for her thesis, “La Educación para la Liberación: Re-Politicized Youth and the Chilean Student Movement in 2011,” which was later published as an article. Having fallen in love with traveling, especially in Latin America, Clara has extensive experience exploring and teaching in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Mexico. Closer to home, she has tutored recently arrived immigrants, taught skiing to youth with disabilities, and facilitated educational programs for teenage migrant farm workers, in addition to doing some farm work herself. Most recently, Clara lived in Mexico, teaching English at a university as a Fulbright grantee. Clara also spent a semester as a Spanish Teaching Apprentice at the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, CO. Clara loves spending as much time as possible with her family and friends, eating Mexican food, hiking, skiing, and gardening.

laurel

 

Laurel MajorTeaching Intern
  • Base Camp: Arizona
  • Student on Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2009
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2015

Laurel is a TTS Alumna (TTS14) and is currently completing her senior year at Prescott College where she is finishing a degree in Adventure and Social Justice Education. Laurel traveled to Africa as a student with the Traveling School in 2009 and since then, she has returned and spent a summer in Kenya studying community activism and working with a local Maasai community and peers through Prescott College’s s partnership with Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition. Laurel also works for Adventure Treks – an adventure-based summer camp in North Carolina leading short backpacking and canoeing trips & headed up the top-rope site management at a local outdoor rock site. Laurel’s passion for outdoor education has also been applied at her college where she has co-instructed Prescott College’s Wilderness Orientation, a 21-day backpacking trip for students to Prescott College through remote canyons and landscapes of the desert Southwest.

Quinn Mawhinnie

Quinn Mawhinney
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2014
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2015
  • Student, Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2006

As a Traveling School Alumna, Quinnie brings an understanding of TTS systems from a student’s perspective, travel experience in southern Africa and a passion for teaching and learning. Quinn graduated from Montana State University in 2013 with a B.S. in Sociology. Quinn has worked as an Environmental science teacher for a Montessori School and a Field Instructor with Montana Outdoor Science School. This past winter, she volunteered as a mentor with Big Sky Youth Empowerment. As a Montana native, Quinn has a natural affinity for the outdoors that is reflected in her significant experience backpacking, rafting, climbing, skiing and biking. Quinn believes that interdependence and trust are two vital pillars in building a community; she is committed to inspiring a passion for learning that highlights students’ unique and natural abilities.

Jenae McCarroll
Jenae McCarroll
  • Base Camp: California
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2010
  • Spring Semester, South America 2012
  • Student, Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2003

Jenae grew up rafting, bike touring and backpacking beside her parents and community. At sixteen she traveled to South Africa as a student with The Traveling School. TTS ignited Jenae’s spirit and instantly deepened her connection to investigating diverse lifestyles and culture. The TTS adventure raised questions about living off the land, poverty, race and ethnicity, family structures, security and protection, freedom and equality and where she and others fit into social responsibility.

Since attending TTS as a student, Jenae graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale Colorado and consciously chose to attend Cabrillo Community College, coaching youth soccer, playing college Volleyball and earning an AA in Cultural Anthropology. On a gap semester, Jenae lived in Eastern Uganda volunteering as a teacher and health advocate/surveyor for community members living with AIDS and Tuberculosis. Jenae has a BA in International Relations with a focus on African culture and politics from San Francisco State University. For two years Jenae worked as an Americorp Team Leader for Jumpstart’s Early Literacy Program in Bay View, and as a Kayak Guide with UCSF. Since graduating in 2010 Jenae has worked as an International Leader, Recruiter and Staff Training Leader with Adventures Cross-Country (ARCC). Jenae has lead summer, custom and gap semester programs throughout California, Ecuador, The Galapagos, Fiji, Australia, Thailand, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

Jenae will graduate in January 2015 with a Masters Degree in Organization Development and Psychology from Saybrook University’s Leadership Institute of Seattle (LIOS). She is currently consulting and facilitating with TEDx Santa Cruz, People-Centered Strategies and Synergy Learning Systems. Jenae recently launched Pamoja Intentional Import and Travel, a socially conscious business in which Kenyan products are sold to US markets and profit is returned to the original communities to invest in education and development projects.

Kate McMahon

Kate McMahon
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2006
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2010
Maria McMorrowAcademic Teacher
  • Base Camp: Maine
  • Spring Semester, South America 2017

Maria was born and raised in Maine. She got her first teaching “job” at age 13 as a junior counselor at Wolfe’s Neck Farm Summer Day Camp, where she continued to work, in different capacities, for the following eight years. After graduation, she moved to Paraguay for a year and worked with a local non-profit where she learned Spanish and Guaraní. Eventually, she graduated from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada with a degree in Environmental Science. Maria has continued to hone her skills as a naturalist and outdoor educator leading extended wilderness canoe trips in Maine and eastern Canada. In a bold change of pace, she held a year-round Americorps position for the Island Institute and the Downeast Salmon Federation, where she co-founded the Machias River Wigwams Program, a no-cost work/wilderness and science experience for local teens. Most recently she worked as a Field Instructor for the Outdoor Classroom at Chewonki. Maria is a Registered Maine Guide, rides a motorcycle and loves to cook delicious food. Next up on her to-do list are: learning to SCUBA dive, improving at basket making and learning French. Maria will teach Advanced Conversational Spanish, Natural Science and team-teach PE during the South America semester.

Phoebe McGuire
Phoebe McGuire
  • Base Camp: Maine
  • Student, Spring Semester, South America 2008
  • Spring Semester, South America 2012

Phoebe grew up in the mountains of Colorado skiing in the winter and spent her summers sailing in Minnesota. She graduated from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida with a degree in Human Development and a minor in Spanish. After graduating, Phoebe taught with The Traveling School in South America which initiated her as an experiential educator.

Over the last two and a half years Phoebe has instructed broad reaching topics within experiential semester programs including celestial navigation, oceanographic sciences including plastic pollution research, technical sailing skills, and leadership. She has been teaching for Hurricane Island Outward Bound School leading expeditions on 30 foot open sail boats.Phoebe has also worked for Sea Education Association as part of the crew on the Corwith Cramer-a 134 foot sailing ship.  In the winter of 2013, spring of 2014, Phoebe was part of the teaching team for a semester program for Ocean Classroom Foundation on board the Harvey Gamage-a 130 foot schooner-with 17 high school students.  Her fluency in Spanish has been essential for these programs in the various Spanish speaking countries they have visited.

Most recently, Phoebe sailed across the Atlantic on a 43 foot sloop as one of three crew members.  She is currently in the process of getting her Captain’s License, continuing to teach for Outward Bound, and looking forward to teaching more semester programs in the coming years. Phoebe is passionate about facilitating experiences that empower people through experiential education.  She has a commitment to the group dynamic that is created when traveling by sailboat or on land.  Her gifts lie in her abilities to teach and expand young people’s visions by calling them forward into the bigger stories of their lives as they journey outside the walls of a traditional classroom.

Emily Mallory
Emily MalloryBoard Member
  • Base Camp: Utah
  • Board Member since 2016
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2008
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2009
Emily’s believes passionately in the powerful intersection of education and travel. In high school she participated in international education programs that laid the foundation for her commitment to the field of education. In the U.S. and overseas, Emily has designed and facilitated education and training programs for young people and adults.  One of her most rewarding professional experiences has been working with the Traveling School. Currently Emily is a middle school teacher at The McGillis School and the SHIFT Program Manager at the Utah Film Center, training educators to integrate digital media into the classroom. She has a B.A. in International Affairs and Anthropology from University of Colorado and a M.A. in Global Education and Social Studies from The Ohio State University.  Fly fishing, hiking, dancing, traveling, speaking Spanish, and being in wide open spaces nurture Emily’s soul.
Rhea Maze
Rhea Maze
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2008
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2009
  • Spring Semester, South America 2012
Rhea holds a Master’s degree in English with an emphasis in Education and a Secondary Teaching License from Colorado State University. She’s taught at public schools and educational nonprofit organizations in Colorado and spent time teaching English in Greece. In addition to teaching, Rhea worked as an Educational Travel Program Coordinator and designed study abroad experiences for teacher and student groups to India, Africa, and Central America. She has also worked professionally in media communications and for nonprofit organizations, magazines, and travel guide books doing research, fact-checking, and writing. Rhea is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and loves to teach Power Vinyasa yoga. During her undergraduate college years in San Diego, she guided students on sea kayaking expeditions to Mexico and Canoeing trips down the Colorado. Rhea consistently pursues a wide variety of outdoor adventures including surfing, stand up paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, snowboarding, climbing, biking, backpacking, and running. She is deeply inspired by the amazing transformations that occur during a Traveling School semester and strongly believes that empowering girls will positively change the world. She loves to witness how a semester without cliques or hair dryers allows TTS students to fully engage with their surroundings and explore the world with adventure, curiosity, compassion, awareness, and a new found confidence in their dreams.

Ariane Mohr-Felsen
  • Base Camp: Arizona
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2012

Ariane is grateful to have been immersed in other cultures before she even had a say in the matter. By middle school, she had lived in four states and three countries, including three years spent in Italy, attending an international school and exploring countries throughout western Europe by train with her family. Following her high school graduation as class valedictorian, she received a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship and spent a year living with a host family in Germany and attending German high school. She attained German fluency, but even more importantly, realized the incredible growth that can come from striving towards cultural fluency. She continued to travel while attending Scripps College, this time taking trips to Latin America. Concurrently, her academic experience at Scripps and the surrounding Claremont Colleges convinced her that learning is far richer when interdisciplinary and guided by questions as opposed to answers. After a semester as a Humanities Institute Junior Fellow studying “The End of Oil,” she focused her studies on environmental issues, leading to a half-year in South Africa with a cohort examining the theme of “Globalization and the Environment.” While there she visited multiple countries and fell in love with the people, landscapes, and cultures of southern Africa. Upon returning to the US she received an Outward Bound Leadership Scholarship and participated in a Sea Kayaking and Mountaineering Course in the Pacific Northwest. Her month in the backcountry set her down the path of outdoor and environmental education and she hasn’t looked back since. Graduating cum laude with a degree in Environmental Analysis, she apprenticed at an organic farm in Maine, led backpacking trips for the C5 Youth Foundation in the mountains of Wyoming, and worked as an independent guide in the canyons and deserts of the Southwest.  Since moving to Tucson a year and a half ago, she has completed an Americorps term with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and stayed on with them to coordinate their outdoor and environmental programs and help direct their Day Camp. When not traversing the city on bike or climbing and hiking the Tucson surrounds, Ariane can be found at home with her partner, pup, and more chickens than she can count. She likes to spend her spare time reading interesting books and attempting to bake the perfect loaf of bread. She enjoys The Traveling School, where academic learning highlights knowledge that comes from people, experiences, and the natural world. She works to impart to her students a sense of how interconnected all living beings are, a conviction in themselves and one another, and a realization of the great power that their choices and actions hold.

Chrissie Monaghan
Chrissie Monaghan
  • Base Camp: Virginia
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2009
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2010

Chrissie is currently completing her PhD in International and Comparative Education at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on education in conflict-affected states with a focus on refugee education. Chrissie currently sits on the Board of Directors of two NGOs, Iqra Fund (which promotes girls education in Pakistan) and Omprakash (which connects students to volunteer placements throughout the world at no cost) and holds dissertation fellowships at the Institute of Humanities and Global Cultures and the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities. Previously, Chrissie worked in outdoor leadership guiding wilderness trips for teens in the Western United States and served as the Assistant Rowing Coach at the University of Virginia. She attributes her belief in the transformative potential of experiential, place-based education to her experiences teaching at The Traveling School.

Samantha Mora
Samantha Mora
  • Base Camp: Idaho
  • Spring Semester, South America 2006, 2007
Samantha Reinhart Mora was born in the West Texas border town of El Paso. Raised in a bilingual English/Spanish home, she was always fascinated by her maternal Mexican heritage. Samantha often visited family in Mexico as a child, and continued her exploration of the Latino world in college, when she spent a summer in Oaxaca, Mexico, and later a semester in Madrid, Spain.

Upon graduation from Southwestern University with a BA in Women’s Studies and an emphasis in Literature, Samantha moved to Bozeman, Montana. After a term of service as an Americorps volunteer with the Montana Conservation Corps, she embarked on an adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador. She spent three years in the idyllic hamlet of El Vado, a tiny village on the banks of the Rio Lempa. Here she perfected her tortilla making technique while she promoted reforestation, organic farming and gardening, small business cooperatives for women, education and leadership for women and girls, and taught environmental education. Upon her return to la USA, Samantha spent two years teaching English as a second language to adults in California. She also taught an after-school program for high school immigrants, a lab classroom in an alternative high school, and a reading and writing intervention class for elementary students.

In addition to her classroom teaching experience, Samantha has a passion for working with youth in the outdoors. She spends her summers working for the National Park Service as a crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corps program. She has spent two summers at Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, and three summers as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park, leading and teaching crews of high school students working on conservation and trail projects. She lives in Hailey, Idaho, with her husband Matt and her two children. Samantha, a Boise State Writing Project Fellow, teaches Spanish at Wood River Middle School. Her hobbies include yoga, skiing, reading, and cooking.

Mary Reid Munford

Mary Reid Munford
  • Base Camp: Mississippi
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2014

Mary Reid graduated with a B.A. in English from Princeton University, splitting her time between exploring literature from the American South and exploring the mountains of the east coast with Princeton’s outdoor club. She first fell in love with the outdoors while growing up in Mississippi and hiking and canoeing in the North Carolina mountains, and she cemented her interest in becoming an educator at The Mountain School, a semester school in Vershire, Vermont. Upon college graduation, Mary Reid worked for African Impact in Livingstone, Zambia. As a volunteer coordinator and project manager, she worked with local community members to organize medical, sports, and educational projects for international volunteers. She spent her free time as close to the Zambezi River as possible, visiting Victoria Falls, trying to catch a mighty tiger fish, and rafting the Zambezi’s legendary rapids. She also traveled to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, and around other parts of Zambia. Mary Reid spends her free time hiking, reading, doing crosswords, and slowly learning how to speak Spanish. She believes that the best education is experiential; by exploring the world, you learn more about yourself and your place in it.

Shannon Ongaro
Shannon OngaroFormer Board Member
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Board Member 2011 – 2016
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2004, 2006
  • Fall Semester, New Zealand 2005
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2012
Shannon holds a Master’s Degree in History for Montana State University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Naropa University, in addition to her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Humboldt State University. Shannon has taught professionally at the college level, and has spent summers training river guides and working as an instructor at Montana Whitewater Guide School. An avid backcountry skier and outdoor enthusiast, Shannon has traveled extensively all over the world – including Central and South America, New Zealand, Africa, and Europe. Shannon is Certified Wilderness First-Aid and Swift Water Rescue. She works for the Tandana Foundation, a non-profit organization that oversees service projects in Ecuador and Mali, West Africa. As co-founder of local arts project BOOMA (Benevolent Order of Mountain Artists), she organizes twice-yearly collaborative community art projects. She was recently invited to Bozeman High School to facilitate art and writing programs with advanced art students.

Heather Politi
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2013
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2013
  • Spring Semester, South America 2014

Heather found her passion for traveling during college with a spring break service trip to Belize and a semester abroad spent in Ecuador. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS and MS in mathematics and a minor in Spanish. After college, she worked for three and a half years as a mathematician before becoming certified to teach in order to share her love for mathematics with young adults. Heather taught high school mathematics for three years in Baltimore City before moving to the Dominican Republic, where she taught secondary mathematics at an international school for two years. Through involvement with her students in programs such as Burton’s Chill Snowboarding and Outward Bound, Heather saw the personal growth that students can achieve while confronting and overcoming challenges in the outdoors and vowed to become more involved with outdoor and experiential education. In the fall of 2012, Heather taught math and Spanish while hiking, climbing, and skiing in the Swiss Alps with Swiss Semester in Zermatt, Switzerland. “The Traveling School offers girls the opportunity to learn about the world, but also to learn about themselves by examining their beliefs and values in the context of other cultures, and by meeting the challenges of outdoor adventure and travel.” Heather currently lives in Boulder, Colorado and teaches at Nederland Middle Senior High School.

Linnea Renz
Linnaea Renz
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, South America 2006
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2006
In college, Linnaea traveled to Ecuador for three months, gaining a strong understanding of the Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture. Her interest in world affairs led her to a B.A. in Geography from the University of Washington.

Linnaea was first introduced to conservation work at the age of 15 when she joined the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in Yellowstone National Park. After one season she was hooked! She spent 7 more seasons with YCC, transitioning from member to Crew Leader to Program Director. During the off-seasons Linnaea worked for a variety of other youth programs, including an after-school program, wilderness therapy.
On the more fun side, Linnaea is a lover of all outdoor activities, but places backpacking, ultimate Frisbee, canoeing, and snowboarding at the top of her list.

Linnaea believes that by exploring other places and cultures one develops a better understanding of their own culture and of themselves. As a teacher, her goal is to inspire students to become life-long learners.

 

Cara Rosingana
Cara Rosingana
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, South America 2006, 2007
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2009
Cara is from New Mexico, by way of Oregon. Cara has a Master’s in Education with a focus on Language Arts from the University of Oregon, and a BA from the University of Colorado in English and Music. In Boulder she discovered her love for the outdoors and has since then has become an active rock climber, mountain biker, river runner, skier, and backpacker. Cara has worked as an outdoor educator for the Colorado Outdoor Program at CU, Poulter Colorado Camps in Steamboat Springs, and as an instructor for Adventure Treks, leading 22-25 day summer, wilderness adventures for teenagers.

In addition to spending time in Europe, Argentina, and Chile, Cara chaperoned a month long trip for high school art students to Bali, Indonesia. Her travels took her to Mexico and Guatemala where she earned her certificate to teach English as a second language and volunteered teaching English in a Guatemalan elementary school. Cara lives in Colorado with her husband, Aaron.

Knowing that teaching is her calling, Cara believes that experiential education is the best way to foster a love of learning, teach critical thinking skills, and open students to new ways of thinking about the world. Because of this, Cara believes The Traveling School is her ideal place to teach and learn.

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Jennifer RoyallExecutive Director & Head of School
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2003
  • Spring Semester, South America 2004
  • Campus Visits: South America 2008, 2010, 2014; Central America 2009, 2011, 2013; South-West Africa 2008, 2009, 2013

Prior to The Traveling School, Jennifer Royall was a Nationally Certified educator who spent nearly 20 years in the classroom. With a Master’s in Education from Lesley College and a BA in Political Science from Duke University, Jennifer first learned the importance of incorporating outdoor education, community service and a rigorous academic curriculum at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, CA. Then, as a middle school teacher in Bozeman, MT, she endeavored to broaden the traditional classroom by infusing Montana’s natural wonders and its people. Jennifer helped organize a Montana Writer’s Symposium and extensive community service projects. In 2001, Jennifer received recognition for her efforts with a Milken National Educator Award.

Jennifer has successfully run Traveling School semesters in both Africa and South America, and students have fallen in love with her enjoyment of teaching and the world. Jennifer believes that students learn best when the material is relevant and accessible. The power of truly experiencing another culture can broaden personal points of view, enrich global understanding, and transform lives.

In 2005, Jennifer joined the Traveling School Board of Directors and in 2008, she was hired as the Dean of Students and Faculty for the Traveling School and later became the Curriculum Director as well. In this capacity, Jennifer directly oversees the program in the field in regions ranging from Latin America to southern Africa. She is the primary contact for teachers and parents while a program is overseas. In addition, Jennifer: manages communication flow; serves as a liaison between the administrative office, teachers overseas, and parents at home; oversees teaching personnel, policy adherence, academics, and curriculum. She is responsible for maintaining contact with the program while abroad.  Jennifer ensures all steps are taken in the event of an emergency and for handling major problems between staff and staff/ students.  She continues to join TTS semesters as often as possible to lead Fundraising trips with parents and friends.

Additionally, Jennifer’s professional experience in the outdoors includes two decades of leading biking, hiking and river trips with teens and adults throughout the Rocky Mountain West and internationally in wild settings of New Zealand, Europe, Mongolia and Tahiti. Whenever possible, Jennifer and her husband have traveled extensively searching for suitably exciting whitewater for kayaking, the perfect waves to surf in Mexico and Central America, great ski spots all over the West, and remote waters for sea kayaking in Alaska.

Katelin Ryan
  • Base Camp: New York
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2014

Born and raised on the east end of Long Island, Katie Ryan spent her childhood surrounded by farms, vineyards and ocean beaches. From an early age her parents instilled a love for adventure and it has inspired her to continue exploring. While earning her BA in Cinema and Cultural Studies at Stony Brook University, Katie began to spend most of her summers volunteering and working abroad. She’s done everything from planting trees and working with orphan bears, to constructing schools and leading after school sports programs. Her travels have taken her glacier climbing, canyoneering, sky diving, bungee jumping and even zorbing. The past three years she’s worked as a Project Leader in South Africa, leading participants on conservation and community development programs. Presently she’s earning her MA in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute, and in her free time enjoys photography, playing music, hiking and seeking out new adventures.

SylviaSegarBioPhoto

Sylvia Segar
  • Base Camp: Ecuador
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2013

Sylvia Seger is a specialist in the education and application of ecological field study techniques and methods of tropical biodiversity conservation research. Her field experience in ecology is comprehensive; she has participated in lowland humid forest research projects in the fields of ornithology, ethnobotany, and entomology. Ms. Seger also has extensive experience as an environmental activist and was responsible for compiling and mapping the endangered species habitat range data in Ecuador’s Mindo Important Bird Area as part of the OCP oil pipeline dispute.

While focused primarily on ecology education, Ms. Seger is also a tropical dendrology specialist and a certified naturalist guide. She has worked in Japan, Colombia, Switzerland, and the United States as an educator and curriculum development consultant. She holds both US and Liechtenstein citizenship. Seger has been director of the Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program since 1989. She received a BS from California State University (Northridge) and a master’s in intercultural management and development from SIT Graduate Institute. She is currently completing a second master’s degree in geographic information systems as applied to conservation and natural resource management in tropical ecosystems. Sylvia recently published three online photo field guides on the Field Museum website, two on hummingbirds (Pichincha and Santo Domingo) and one on primates (Orellana); three more are in progress, including one on Galapagos fish and marine fauna.

Thea Sittler
Thea Sittler
  • Base Camp: Seattle, WA
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2009
After graduating from Wellesley College with a BA in Environmental Chemistry, Thea began her journey as an educator. Having taught chemistry at a private boarding school for three years, she wanted to teach in context, to connect to people and place, to see the world. Since then, she has taught a wide range of topics — science, math, environmental ethics, first aid, leadership — in a variety of settings around the world. Her classrooms have ranged from traditional academic classrooms to Mayan ruins in the Guatemalan jungle to Maasai bomas in remote villages of Tanzania. Throughout her adventures living and working in nine states and nine different countries Thea’s goal has always remained the same: to help students recognize their impact on the world around them, both ecologically and socially, and to inspire and empower them to continue to redefine their relationships to be as positive and sustainable as possible.

Tory Smith
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, South America 2017
Tory is originally from New Hampshire. She attended the University of New Hampshire, where she studied Social Work and Outdoor Education. While in college, she participated in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) semester in the Southwest, which changed the way she viewed the world. After graduation she bought a car, packed up, and drove west. She became a raft guide in the southwest, and began working for Deer Hill Expeditions, in Mancos, Colorado. Through this company she led backpacking, rafting and cross-cultural service trips in the Four Corners and Costa Rica. Tory has a personal passion for traveling and adventure, which has led her all over Central America and Iceland. In her travels she discovered a love of the Spanish language, and the thrill of navigating unfamiliar places. Tory believes deeply in the power that comes from place based experiential education, and she is excited to share her knowledge and experience with students at The Traveling School. Currently, Tory teaches English and Mountain Biking at an Experiential Learning High School. In her free time, Tory can be found in the beautiful outdoors mountain biking, hiking and running. When not exploring, she is usually found reading a good book, throwing pottery and spending time with fantastic friends. Tory is excited to teach Beginning Conversational Spanish and Precalculus as well as team-teach PE this semester for The Traveling School.

Kate Steckmest

Kate Steckmest
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Spring Semester, South America 2014

Kate Steckmest grew up in the Cashmere, WA, a small town bordered by the eastern foothills of the Cascades.  She started Nordic ski and mountain bike racing around the time she learned to walk.  She earned her B.A. in International Development Studies and Spanish from Portland State University, motivated largely by an 8-month trip to the Southern Cone of Latin America she took after graduating from high school.  While in this program, Kate participated in a Sustainable Rural Development project in San Pedro de Colalao, Argentina.  She returned in 2013 as an assistant to the lead professor. During the summer of 2013, she was a trip leader for VISIONS Service Adventures leading a group of teens doing community service projects on the Blackfeet Reservation.  She also led backpacking trips in Glacier National Park.  As a Wilderness EMT, she enjoys leading safe trips that actively engage the participants to learn lifelong skills while enjoying the outdoors.  Kate also loves the water and has worked as a lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor and has also completed her PADI Open Water Diver course. Kate has traveled to numerous countries in Latin America, but also enjoys working with the Latino population here in the US.  She has taught English as a Second Language as well as yoga in Spanish classes.  She feels second-language acquisition is important and has worked as a bilingual teacher for children.  Kate’s extensive travel and life experience combined with a solid academic background has taught her the value of experiential education.  She strongly believes that global travel can give value, relevance and meaning to academic subjects.  She believes that these experiences are especially empowering to teen girls, leading them to become more culturally-aware, well-rounded and fulfilled young adults.

Anna Taft
Anna Taft
  • Base Camp: Colorado
  • Spring Semester, South America 2004, 2005
  • Fall Semester, New Zealand 2005
  • Community Service, Tandana Foundation, South America, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014
In 1998, Anna spent four months living and volunteering with a family in Panecillo, Ecuador, where she taught at a local elementary school. Since then, she has returned to Ecuador many times and spent months in the other Andean countries, including participating in an extensive research project collecting potatoes and other tubers within Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia for the Guandera Biological Reserve in Carchi, teaching Spanish and history for The Traveling School while leading high school girls through the Andes, and developing the Expedición Ecuador program for Deer Hill Expeditions.
Bilingual in Spanish with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and a minor in Environmental Studies from Whitman College, Anna possesses impressive linguistic skill that includes a great deal of knowledge of local indigenous languages. Anna has dedicated herself to teaching and working with students in outdoor and international education.

Her professional experience includes experience working with teenagers in wilderness environments during 8 summers as field staff at Deer Hill Expeditions in southwestern Colorado. She is a highly organized and qualified backcountry leader with skill at leading backpacking trips, rafting trips, organizing service-learning projects, and teaching leadership skills. In addition to her outdoor skills, Anna has also taught in a wide variety of traditional and wilderness classrooms around the world. She has taught Spanish, History and Government of Ecuador and Peru, and New Zealand Literature and Composition during her three semesters working for The Traveling School in South America and New Zealand. In 2006-7 she spent four months in Mali, West Africa, developing new connections for her cross-cultural work and helping with local projects.

In 2004, Anna started The Tandana Foundation to increase cross-cultural learning opportunities. She is currently serving as Executive Director of this organization, which coordinates cross-cultural service projects and volunteer vacations as well as scholarships and support for local educational initiatives in Ecuador and Mali. Each spring, she facilitates a week-long village stay and service project in Ecuador for The Traveling School.
Anna enjoys offering others opportunities to grow through new experiences and reflection. She appreciates the power of cross-cultural friendships to change our views of the world and help us better understand what it is to live as a human being on this Earth.

Aunge Thomas

Aunge ThomasDean of Students & Faculty
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Spring Semester, South America 2010
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2010, 2012
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2011
Aunge Thomas graduated from Montana State University in 2004 with a B.S Degree in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Bio-resources engineering. Throughout college she worked with MSU Expeditions, a freshman outdoor orientation program, helped develop Wild MSU, a club for outdoor enthusiasts, and helped establish Engineers Without Borders-MSU. Upon finishing college, Aunge was a raft guide in the summer and a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort in the winter. Aunge taught at High Mountain Institute in Colorado, in addition to teaching with The Traveling School in South America and Southeast Africa. In her free time Aunge loves to explore the Gallatin Valley on her road bike, skis, kayak, or on her porch with a book and a good cup of coffee. Aunge believes in the power of teaching students to think outside the box to understand interconnectedness of the world today. TTS imparts passion among students to seek knowledge about the aspects of the global community through unique and experiential educational settings. Aunge is currently the Dean of Students & Faculty for The Traveling School.

Elsie Thomson
  • Base Camp: Montana
  • Fall Semester, Southern Africa 2015
  • Spring Semester, South America 2016

Elsie is originally from the flatlands of southeastern Wisconsin. She earned a Bachelors’ degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. While earning her undergraduate degree she spent a semester studying abroad in Tanzania and Zanzibar. After graduating, she found her way west and began working for Teton Science Schools (TSS) in Jackson, WY as a field instructor. During her time at TSS, Elsie fell in love with the Rocky Mountain West and place-based, experiential education. Since then, Elsie has also instructed for Ecology Project International and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Currently, Elsie is working on earning a Masters’ degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana with a focus on environmental education and nonprofit administration. In her free time, Elsie loves exploring the mountains through rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking.

maya

Maya von Wodke
  • Base Camp: Vermont
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2015

Maya grew up living between Guilford, Vermont and Panajachel, Guatemala, and has always drawn inspiration from exploring new cultures and landscapes. She earned a B.A. in History and Education Studies from Middlebury Colleg, where she also developed her passion for the outdoors and wilderness medicine. She ski patrolled at the Middlebury Snow Bowl, coordinated outdoor orientation, and guided backpacking trips for the Middlebury Mountain Club. In 2012, she spent a semester at the Universidad de Playa Ancha in Valparaiso, Chile, studying Latin American history, literature and ecology. Maya has also worked as a wilderness EMT and held seasonal positions in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s backcountry huts. A firm believer in the power of experiential education, Maya is an Outward Bound Instructor and has spent a semester as the History Teaching Apprentice at the High Mountain Institute. In her free time, Maya can be found on skis or on a bike, going for long trail runs, doing yoga and baking bread.

genevive Chabot
Dr. Genevieve Walsh, Ed.DFormer Board Member
  • Base Camp: Montana, New York, California and Pakistan
  • Board Member since 2009-2015
  • Interim Academic Administrator Fall Semester 2007
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2003, 2004, 2009
  • Fall Semester, New Zealand 2005
  • Spring Semester, South America 2006

Dr. Genevieve Walsh believes that The Traveling School truly does have the power to change the world, one girl at a time. Genevieve has been involved with The Traveling School since it’s first year inspiring and empowering young women in 2003, and continues to stay actively involved as a board member.  Genevieve has degrees in elementary education, a master’s in science education focused on TTS science curricula, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a focus on girls’ educational development in Pakistan.  Genevieve’s experience traveling with TTS’s inspiring and empowering students and teachers led her to founding and successfully launching Iqra Fund, a non-profit supporting girls’ education in the tribal areas of Pakistan. With more than a decade with The Traveling School, Genevieve has seen firsthand the power that travel, cultural immersion, and inspiring academics can have to change a girl’s life.

sarah

Sarah White
  • Base Camp: California
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2013
  • Spring Semester, South America 2014
  • Fall Semester, South-East Africa 2014
  • Spring Semester, Central America 2015
Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management, focusing on Critical Pedagogy from SIT Graduate Institute, and a Master of Research degree in Social Anthropology from the University of St. Andrews. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Global Studies from Global College, where she studied Performing Arts & Social Justice in Roma (Gypsy) communities in India, Egypt, Turkey, and Romania. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sarah danced in the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, a group dedicated to youth empowerment through arts activism. She was an AmeriCorps volunteer leading teens in the wilderness, and loves being outdoors. Previously, Sarah worked as Program Leader for Thinking Beyond Borders, exploring the concept of development, power, and privilege with gap year students through service-learning projects and seminars in 8 countries over 8 months. She was a Trustees Fellow for International Honors Program, a comparative college study abroad program that studies health, community, and globalization across the U.S., Brazil, Vietnam, and South Africa. For the past several summers, Sarah has worked for the U.S. State Department’s Youth Peace-building & Leadership Programs facilitating dialogue among teenage Iraqi, U.S., Pakistani, Cypriot, British, Mexican, and Danish participants. Most recently, she was an Instructor for the Civic Education Project, facilitating a curriculum for youth focused on urban poverty. In her free time, Sarah enjoys dancing, watching performances, and reading teen fiction.

Eula Yancey
Eula Yancey
  • Base Camp: Wyoming
  • Fall Semester, South-West Africa 2007
Eula lends extensive teaching experience to The Traveling School. She has been teaching Biology, Anatomy and Physiology to middle and high school students since 1989. A graduate in Education from Humboldt State University, Eula has been married for 40+ years and has an adult daughter. In her teaching, Eula has formed strong, lasting relationships with her students built on mutual respect, love of learning and genuine affection. She is a high-energy person with a strong work ethic.

Eula taught in the US Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, and has traveled through Europe. She has also travelled to China and Japan. Eula is an outdoor enthusiast – enjoying skiing, hiking, canoeing and other activities. She has climbed an impressive number of 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and has recently learned to whitewater kayak.

Eula believes that education is a life experience. She believes that we should teach the next generation to strive to obtain knowledge. Eula believes that the greatest community value is caring. In today’s world, she believes in teaching students to slow down so that they can “see” to care.