Meet Our Academic Staff
Nick Pakidko, M.Ed.
Nick came to Discovery Academy in 2014 and he brings with him 34 years of therapeutic educational experience including a wealth of information and wisdom to our school and industry.
Nick has earned two masters’ degrees in special education, art and design from Brigham Young University and he also holds a third graduate degree in educational administration and supervision. He has spent over three decades working in residential treatment schools with adolescents experiencing behavioral and learning difficulties.
The father of five boys, Nick enjoys Australian Rules football, sixties music, geopolitics, religious reading, fine arts, including Kenpo karate and surfing.
Monique Hadley, MA
Helping Discovery Academy students arrange their schedules and plan for their academic futures keeps Monique busy. The mother of four boys, Monique earned her bachelors degree at the University of Utah. She also holds a masters degree in school guidance counseling from the University of Phoenix. Monique has spent the past 21 years working in education and career counseling. When she’s not at work, Monique enjoys being with her family, traveling, reading and going to the movies.
Mark Edwards, MA
Mark first came to Discovery Academy in 1990. Since that time he has held many different positions including mentor, assistant boys’ program director, and art/English/history teacher. He is currently one of our academic counselors. Mark earned his bachelor’s degree in art education from Brigham Young University and has certifications in commercial art and graphic art. He also holds a master’s degree in school guidance counseling. He is married and has two boys. He enjoys the outdoors, photography, and scuba diving.
Laurie Laird, M.Ed.
Laurie recently joined the Discovery Academy team after serving as Education Director for fifteen years at an adolescent female residential program along with one year as Executive Director for a preteen program. Prior to working in residential treatment, Laurie taught in the public school system, both in junior high and high school. Laurie graduated in secondary education from Brigham Young University and has a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling. Laurie taught on the college level for six years at the University of Phoenix, in the education and math departments. Passionate about providing quality education experience for youth, Laurie brings her education and experience to best serve the academic program at Discovery Academy. Laurie enjoys the outdoors, reading, and spending time with her four children and two grandchildren.
Kristi Steimle, BA
Kristi came to Discovery Academy in 2000 after earning her bachelor’s degree in history from Brigham Young University. Kristi’s multiple talents have helped her serve our organization in a variety of capacities in educational support over the years. She currently works as the school’s registrar. She loves musical theater and working alongside the students in the drama productions. Kristi enjoys seeing the change that comes over Discovery Academy students as they grow and progress, and feels honored to play a part in their development.
Assistant Special Ed Coordinator/Teacher
#Cory is the Assistant Special Ed Coordinator/Teacher. He came to Discovery Academy in 2010, he helped start the Discovery Connections program. He has a bachelor’s degree in technology management from Utah Valley University. His special education teaching certificate is from Prescott College. Cory has a dual teaching license in special education and computer science. Before starting to work in the education field, Cory worked in the computer industry for 20 years in quality assurance for hardware, networking and computer programs. He worked with special needs students for 6 years in public schools. He and his wife live on a small farm and enjoy spending time with their 5 children and new granddaughter. He also enjoys science fiction fantasy movies & books, talk shows, outdoor activities and is an all around handyman.
Lauryl completed a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry at California State Fullerton. She then completed a M.S. in Physiology and Developmental Biology. She was a physiology teacher at BYU before she joined Discovery Academy as a science/math teacher in 2011. She has publications in the Immunology and Cell Biology Journal. She was a very popular teacher at BYU and is really enjoying bringing science to high school students. While she teaches, she is finishing her Ph.D. in cell biology.
A talented teacher and administrator, Randall first joined the Discovery Academy faculty in 1997. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in both English and Spanish and has also earned a master’s degree in secondary education from BYU. Randall has spent the past 35 years teaching in public schools in Utah and Idaho. While he calls Florida home, Randall’s lived in 22 different places from coast to coast over his lifetime. He and his wife are the parents of four grown children. In his spare time, Randall loves spending time with his family and documenting his family history. He also enjoys collecting record albums, cookbooks, traveling and working out.
Coleen Gleason, BA
Coleen came to Discovery Academy in 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English/secondary education from Brigham Young University, but she gave up her successful teaching career to raise and mostly home-school her seven children. Later, when most of her children were grown, she found that she enjoyed working with students with special challenges when she taught GED classes for several years. A published author, she especially loves helping students learn to write. Coleen enjoys reading, writing, cooking, alternative health, and camping with her large family. She has been married for over thirty-five years and has twenty grandchildren.
Elaine Layosa, MA
Elaine came to Discovery Academy in 1992. After graduating in microbiology and chemistry from Brigham Young University, she moved to southern California and worked as a microbiologist in the food and flavor industry. She later completed a degree in secondary education at California State University and earned her master’s degree in educational counseling in June 2005. Elaine has been a high school teacher since 1985 and has taught biology, chemistry, A.P. chemistry, physics, A.P. physics, principles of technology, and ESL. Elaine enjoys anything that has to do with science, hanging out with her grandchildren, reading, hiking, and going on road trips. Elaine was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Tima Rugino, MSW, BA
Tima joined Discovery Academy as a math teacher in July of 2015. She received her master of social work degree from BYU and a BS in mathematics education with a minor in health education from BYU- Idaho. She has been teaching math for six years (five of those have been at therapeutic boarding schools in Utah). Tima loves being in the outdoors, and enjoys everything from hiking, climbing, rafting, snowboarding and split-boarding in the back country.
Jonathan Montgomery, BS
Jonathan joined Discovery Academy in 2012 after obtaining his degree from Western Governors University. He also completed a degree at Snow College. He is a member of Kappa Delta Pi National Education Association. Before Discovery Academy, Jonathan worked for eight years investigating and preventing Internet fraud. He followed his passion for science into the education field where he now encourages critical thinking, exploration, and hands-on activities to help students gain a rich appreciation for the natural world. Jonathan is from Utah, has been a martial arts instructor, and often explores the night sky with his telescope.
Thomas Richards, MA
Thomas Richards joined Discovery Academy in 2011 and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in biochemistry. He’s been teaching in Utah for more than 18 years. When he’s not in the classroom, he enjoys fishing, backpacking and spending time with his family.
Courtney came to Discovery Academy in 2012 after graduating with a B.S. in Mathematics Education from Brigham Young University. She has taught Pre-Calculus and Secondary Math 2 at the high school level. Growing up near Portland, Oregon, Courtney has developed a passion for the outdoors. She enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, wakeboarding, and almost anything else that can be done outside. She played tennis and volleyball in high school and still tries to play as often as she can. More than anything, however, Courtney loves hanging out with her family. She is the seventh out of eight children and currently has 25 nieces and nephews.
Robert Stoddard, BS
Robert came to Discovery Academy in 2005. He earned his associate’s degree from Utah Valley University and his bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. He is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Utah. After high school, Robert spent some time overseas in Portugal and the Cape Verde Islands. Before joining the faculty at Discovery Academy, Robert taught for several years in the public school system. Robert and his wife have been married since 1994 and have four children: two boys and two girls. Robert loves to spend time with his family, reading history books, and playing or coaching sports. He grew up near Seattle, Washington.
Bill Cluff, MS
Bill came to Discovery Academy in the fall of 2015. He received a BS degree in electrical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1983, and an MS in electrical engineering from Cal State Fullerton in 1988. Bill worked in aerospace and software development for 20 years before returning to Utah Valley University to study math and science education in 2003. He received his Utah state secondary education teaching license with endorsements in math (level 4) and physics in 2004. He then taught math in Utah public high schools for eight years. Bill enjoys the challenge of playing trumpet and performs in civic and dance band groups. He also likes motorcycle riding, fiber arts, puzzles, and reading.
Brian B. is originally from Cape Cod, MA, but transferred to Utah in 2003. He eventually decided to attend Utah Valley University and although he originally started out in a business field he ended up switching his major to education and has never looked back. Brian loves working with adolescents especially by helping them to believe in themselves and realize they are capable of more than they ever thought. Brian comes to Discovery Academy after teaching in one of the local school districts. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, reading biographies, or spending time with friends or families.
Debbie Heselton, BS
Deborah came to Discovery Academy in 2012 after working with troubled youth at Discovery Ranch for three years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education from Utah Valley University, and taught and practiced master aesthetics. She also has experience with teaching students that have special challenges within the public school system, as well as teaching in the private business sector. She raised her five children in Utah and has six grandchildren, who are the light of her life. A New England native from Massachusetts; she’s lived in New York, Idaho, California and Hawaii. Deborah enjoys cooking, reading, photography, hiking and spending time with family.