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.
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. The Traveling School imparts passion among students to seek knowledge about the aspects of the global community through unique and experiential educational settings.
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.
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 bounced around the Rocky Mountains working for a variety of organizations including Ecology Project International, NOLS, and Colorado Mountain Club in addition to The Traveling School. Along the way, Elsie also earned 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. She is excited to call Bozeman home and explore her new role in The Traveling School office.
Laura Brin, a native of Colorado, holds a B.A. in Sociology from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges. While at Pitzer, she spent two semesters abroad – one in Northern India, and the other as a student on the NOLS Patagonia semester – bringing a personal passion for travel and abroad education to The Traveling School. Laura has dedicated her professional career to nonprofit work, with a particular interest in education as a way to empower girls, individuals, and communities. Prior to joining The Traveling School team, Laura worked in development for Central Asia Institute, another Bozeman-based nonprofit, and most recently worked as an administrator at Montana State University. She currently serves on the board of directors for BridgerCare, Bozeman’s reproductive healthcare clinic. In addition to her professional pursuits, Laura enjoys skiing, running, fishing, and playing in Montana’s mountains and rivers with her husband, friends, and her dog.