Meet Our Staff
Marketing / Admissions
Discovery Academy Board of Directors
Brent Hall, LMFT
Brent came to Discovery Academy in 2000 after completing his graduate studies in marriage and family therapy at San Diego State University. While in Southern California, Brent worked with adolescent females in a residential setting specializing in sexual trauma and victim issues.
Prior to that, Brent completed his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University where he worked for three years as a summer camp counselor with teens visiting the college for sports, music, dance, and academic programs.
Originally from Idaho, in his spare time Brent likes to ski, hike, and read.
Matt Hendry, LCMHC
Matt came to Discovery Academy in 2003. He received his degree from the University of Utah and is certified with the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Before joining the Discovery Academy team, Matt worked specifically in substance abuse treatment. Matt is a certified ropes course instructor and has a passionate commitment to experiential therapy. He believes we often learn by doing, and he works hard to create opportunities for students to gain insight through experiential activities, as well as through traditional exercises. Matt is originally from Colorado and enjoys sharing outdoor adventures with his children. He hopes that his children enjoy the outdoors as much as he does.
Laura has been with Discovery Academy since 1992. She began as a mentor, served as the Girls’ Program Coordinator for over ten years, and is currently the Residential Director. Laura is responsible for a large department of dedicated mentors and the development of student daily programming. Believing that building relationships is a key principle to working with youth, Laura has integrated community service, theater, athletic teams, and student clubs into the student schedule where staff and students work together to build supportive relationships. Laura is originally from Reno, Nevada and enjoys traveling and antiquing with family, snowboarding, and boating.
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.
Alan joined Discovery Academy as the first person hired when the program opened its doors in 1989. He was born and raised in Orem, Utah and has lived in Utah all his life. Alan attended Brigham Young University where he graduated with a degree in business management. He and his wife Kathy are the parents of ten children.
Dorothy AhQuin, CMHC
Dorothy has been with Discovery Academy since 1992. She is a certified Special Education teacher and a Licensed Professional Counselor. In addition to her therapeutic experience, she taught high school for twenty years, where she had a passion for motivating students who had fallen behind academically. Dorothy believes that academics and therapy work together in treatment of adolescents. It often takes success in both for students to begin the discovery of who they are and what they can become. When Dorothy isn’t busy fulfilling her unique role at Discovery Academy she enjoys cooking, reading, quilting, traveling, spending time with family, and camping.
Christin Prestwich, LAMFT
Therapist / Admissions Director
Christin came to Discovery Academy in 2012 after graduating with a degree in marriage and family therapy from Argosy University. Prior to joining Discovery Academy, she worked with adult clients in an addiction recovery program. A native of southern Utah, Christin enjoys traveling, the beach, exercising, reading, shopping and time with loved ones.
Brian Allred, LCMHC
Brian comes to Discovery Academy with over 26 years of experience working with youth in a variety of treatment settings. A licensed professional counselor, Brian is a member of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Over the course of his career he has worked as a therapist, clinical supervisor, and program director. He has helped hundreds of youth and their families work through problems that included chemical addictions, mental health issues and behavioral problems. A self-described”gym rat,” Brian enjoys a variety of sports and recreational activities. His favorite pastime is watching his children perform in band and show choir competitions.
Nate Porter, AMHC
Nate joined the Discovery Academy team in 2006 where he worked first as a front line mentor, then a supervisor, and then as the Boys Program Coordinator for four years while working on his Master degree and joining the clinical department as a therapist. Prior to working at Discovery Academy, Nate worked at the Utah State Hospital where he received extensive training in adolescent care in relation to mental and social issues. Nate and his wife have two sons. When he’s not working or studying, Nate loves coaching high school football, watching sports, going on dates with his wife, and playing video games with his boys.
Ann Ngatai, Ed.D.
Ann came to Discovery Academy during the summer of 2014. She received her Masters degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University before going on to earn her Doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology. Before joining the Discovery Academy team, Ann worked with adolescents and early adolescents in multiple settings. Ann’s philosophy is that when more senses are integrated in therapy, as in experiential therapy, a long-lasting impact is made. Ann is originally from California but has lived in Japan and Hawaii before settling in Utah. She enjoys biking through the canyons of Utah with her children, watching documentaries with her husband and quilting.
Barbara Davis, Admissions Coordinator. Please feel free to call anytime to discuss the placement of your son or daughter in any of our Programs!
Girls’ Program Coordinator
Jen worked for five years in a residential treatment program as a mentor and house supervisor before coming to Discovery Academy as the Girl’s Program Coordinator. She enjoys the challenge of working with at-risk youth, especially in the girl’s program. Her greatest reward has been the satisfaction of helping young women find confidence in their talents and abilities, and watching them work towards achieving individual goals. Jen is the mother of three spirited (and sometimes challenging) children of her own. She was born in Virginia, and has had the opportunity to live in many exciting places during her life including, California, Utah, Illinois, North Carolina and Japan (where she taught English conversation classes with a young daughter in tow). Jen likes the outdoor landscape of Utah, camping, film, poetry, art, and collecting family pets.
Matt Keifer, BA
Boys Program Coordinator
Matt Kiefer has been a part of the Discovery Academy family since 2008. He began his career here as a supervisor and currently the Boys Program Coordinator. Matt has worked with under-achieving youth since 2005. His experience at as staff at some of DA’s sister companies gave him the opportunity to work with teens with a broad spectrum of behavioral and dependency issues, including sexual issues, behavioral and family relationship challenges, and academic problems. Matt uses his experience to help build positive relationships with students.
Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. He and his wife have two daughters. When he’s not helping Discovery Academy students discover their strengths and talents, he loves playing the guitar or spending time outdoors hiking, mountain biking, fishing or snowboarding.
Student Service Coordinator
Tara has been with Discovery Academy since the summer of 1999. She started as a mentor, served as the Girls Program Coordinator and the Boys Program Coordinator, and is currently the Student Service Coordinator. Tara’s responsibilities include however are not limited to student wardrobe, medical and dental coordination, service projects, and student needs. Prior to her employment at Discovery Academy, Tara worked for 10 years in the medical field primarily with geriatric patients. She is from right here in Utah Valley and enjoys spending time with family & friends, going to the beach, and the theatre.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michelle Bishop, BS
Michelle came to Discovery Academy in the summer of 2013 after working with students in a treatment setting for the past three years teaching Geometry and Algebra II . Michelle graduated from Utah State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics Secondary Education. She loves teaching and helping students understand and enjoy math. Michelle has lived in Utah her entire life and loves the different seasons that come each year. In the summer she loves to hike, boat and camp. During the winters she loves to go snowshoeing, snowmobiling and sledding. Michelle also loves to travel and hopes to make it to all seven continents one day.
Delicia Barker, BA
Delicia joined the team at Discovery Academy in 2014 after graduating from Utah Valley University with her bachelor’s degree in English Education. Before becoming the English and Social Studies teacher at Discovery Academy, Delicia enjoyed teaching beginning and intermediate piano lessons and spent some of her spare time tutoring students in English, history, and other various subjects. When she is not in class, Delicia loves to camp, play classical music on the piano, and practice calligraphy.
Sara Carter, MA
Sara has been with Discovery Academy since 2004. She was born and raised in Spanish Fork, Utah, married her high school sweetheart of four years, and they are the proud parents of six children. Ever since she was a little girl, Sara dreamed of being a nurse. Her parents had to get her a nurse costume for Halloween for eight years in a row because she refused to be anything else. Sara has earned phlebotomy, MA, CNA, EMT, and PCT titles, and as the medical professional at Discovery Academy, she’s not afraid to give your children a little TLC when they need it.
Janet Stodmeister, APRN
Janet has worked in the mental health industry for over thirty years. She completed her masters degree as a psychiatric nurse practitioner from the University of Utah in 2011 and her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in 1981. Janet has experience at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center inpatient and outpatient psychiatry center, specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents. She is also a nursing professor at Roseman University. Janet’s treatment philosophy is founded on principles of positive psychology, holistic healing practices and expert pharmacological treatment. Because of this perspective, she sees the whole person; she always considers each person’s story and how that story shapes behaviors. She believes anyone can learn new ways of being as they capitalize on their strengths and learn new skills, which ultimately invites change. A Chicago native, Janet enjoys spending time with her family, her guitar, and cooking and hiking.
Food Services Director
Luda Antujchow has been with Discovery Academy since 1994. She received a degree from a culinary college in the Ukraine and spent 15 years as a professional chef in one of the most prominent restaurants in her Ukrainian home town. She is passionate about cooking and adds a little bit of love to every dish she prepares. Luda credits Discovery Academy students (and television) with helping her learn to speak English. She says one of the proudest days of her life was when she received her full American citizenship in 2009.
Oleg Antujchow came to work at the Academy in 1994. He graduated a Ukrainian technical college and left his wife and daughters in the Ukraine to forge a new life for the family in America. He had no way of knowing he would be joining another family – the Discovery Academy family. As facilities manager, Oleg keeps mechanical systems running properly and the grounds and buildings beautifully maintained. He feels it is important for Discovery students to learn basic maintenance and repair skills and he enjoys teaching them. (He also loves accompanying students on fishing trips.) Nine months after joining Discovery Academy, Oleg was able to send for his wife and daughters. He says mastering English and the American culture was difficult but he feels proud to be an American citizen.
Allie Taylor, CSW
Allie was born and raised in the south, her enjoyment for the arts, particularly singing and dancing, came at a young age. By the time Allie graduated from high school, she had been in over two dozen musicals and productions. Allie received her BA in psychology and a minor in music at Brigham Young University-Idaho. While there, she learned to teach piano and voice as well as learned a greater love for the arts. Allie then went on to receive her Master’s of social work from Brigham Young University. Before joining the team at Discovery Academy she worked with struggling adolescents and helping families become a cohesive team. She has a passion for finding the positive qualities in others and helping them reach their true potential. Her hobbies include hiking, trips to the dog park, anything in the arts, and cuddling up on the couch with a good book or movie.
Jessica Tanner, LCSW
Jessica received her Bachelor’s Degree in social work at Idaho State University. She then worked for a year with children who had behavioral and emotional difficulties. After that Jessica completed her graduate studies at Eastern Washington University where she specialized in Grief and Loss. Since graduate school she worked with the elderly community for several years before returning to her passion in the adolescent population working with teens. Jessica joined the Discovery Academy team with years of experience working with adolescents in a residential setting. She enjoys the challenge of working with teenagers while they are discovering themselves and developing their unique talents. In her spare time Jessica enjoys retail therapy, music, dance, biking riding, and most importantly, time with her family and friends.