Meet Our Staff
Marketing / Admissions
Brent Hall, LMFT
Brent came to Discovery Academy as a therapist 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. He has been the executive director at Discovery Academy since 2003.
Suzy attended Brigham Young University and has been with Ascent Companies since 2013. She has five children ranging in ages from 11-25 years old. Suzy also has a child on the Spectrum and can relate to our parents in a very unique way. Suzy’s family enjoys vacationing together. They are a very close-knit group and enjoy spending time at home doing various projects. Suzy was also recommended to Ascent by a fellow staffer and truly enjoys her position. She knows that the finical responsibility of having a child in a program can feel a little overwhelming. Suzy enjoys helping parents understand our policies and procedures and making it a very positive experience for them.
Cassi Kissell, ACMHC
Cassi Kissell is an Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor (ACMHC) currently employed at Discovery Academy as a therapist. She completed her Master’s degree in 2019. Before Cassi came to Discovery Academy, she was employed as a clinician at a treatment center for adolescents. Cassi has experience in working with adults and adolescents who are struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), suicidal thoughts, and a variety of other mental health conditions. Cassi has been trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Crisis Prevention, and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder among other therapeutic techniques.
Cassi enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, fishing, and camping. She also enjoys spending time with her family, especially wrestling with her two little boys. Cassi’s other diverse interests include finding and cooking new recipes, attending boxing classes, and giving back to her community.
Scott A. Lovelace, M.Ed., LCMHC
Scott has had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients across the country and the world. He has been a clinical director, a primary therapist, volunteer, equine-assisted psychotherapist, and business owner in the field of counseling. Throughout his 14 year career, he has had the opportunity to assist children, adolescents, families and military service members with overcoming challenges associated with substance abuse, sexual abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, communication difficulties, learning challenges, and conflict resolution. Through his life experiences, Scott has been able to become more understanding of the need for strong family support as well as the need for building relationships to heal. Life experiences have also taught him that compassion and kindness are important motivating attributes. Scott firmly believes that through small means, great changes can be brought about, especially with the right support system. Scott has shown that he can effectively work with adolescents, often connecting with them through discussion of his time playing football in college, working out with professional football teams, and playing semi-professional football during graduate school. His love of sport has also contributed to his desire and understanding that working with a team is a much better approach to working through challenges, as opposed to trying to accomplish everything simply as an individual. Outside of his professional career, Scott and his lovely wife Valeria have three children who keep them busy with school, friends, art and myriad other activities. Scott can also be found wearing a kilt on the field of the Highland Games or preparing to compete in the Games in the weight room. His family loves being back in Utah, where a variety of options are available for family activities.
As a Primary Therapist at Discovery Academy, Michael is thrilled to be a part of such a seasoned clinical team. Licensed in the State of Utah as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Michael earned his Master’s degree at Argosy University and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in psychology.
Michael’s time working and studying in behavioral health services is now measured in decades. As a seasoned therapist, he has functioned in such positions as Lead/Supervising Therapist as well as Clinical Director in residential treatment settings.
Michael is married, has 3 children and loves spending time with his family exploring the various adventure opportunities that Utah has to offer. He also serves in the Utah National Guard with twenty years and three overseas deployments under his belt.
Clinical specialties include:
- Mood disorders
- Addictions/Substance Use
- Couples/Relationship issues
- Parent/Child issues
Your son or daughter will participate in evidence based therapeutic models such as:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Strategic Family Therapy
- Solution-Focused Therapy
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Michael’s professional approach is summed up by this quote;
“To create lasting change and alleviate emotional suffering is difficult and sometimes impossible on our own; it takes motivation, insight, willingness, and hope. Sometimes all it takes is an empathetic ear, and sometimes it takes a lot more.”
Gregg Lott, LCSW
Gregg specializes in adolescent mental health and has been with our portfolio of programs for well over 20 years. He is currently with Discovery Academy/Connections full time.
His professional career includes experience working with clinically complicated children and adolescents, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, crisis intervention and students struggling with Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB). Gregg is devoted to helping adolescents overcome their past and build healthy futures. He is an avid outdoorsman. He also enjoys working out, spending time with his family and talking sports. Gregg holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Brigham Young University.
- Masters Degree in Social Work from Brigham Young University
- Trained in Sandtray Therapy
- Nationally accredited in treating Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB)
Ryan C. Smith, MA, LAMFT
Ryan C. Smith, MA, LAMFT has clinical experience providing individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy in various settings. He specializes in systemic perspective. Ryan is interested in mobilizing different relationship permissions to live more intentionally with opportunities in our control.
Ryan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in the Korean Language and has gone on to earn a Masters in Religious Education and a second Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Ryan has served as Active Duty military at Fort Lee in Virginia as an officer.
As a marriage and family therapist, Ryan provides change through a variety of perspectives including Attachment-based, Cognitive Behavioral (CBT), Emotionally Focused (EFT), Experiential, Family Systems, Gottman Method, Solution Focused Brief (SFBT), Brief Strategic Couples Therapy (BSCT), and Structural family Therapy. Experience in residential therapy, outpatient therapy and being an Army officer chaplain provides Ryan the perspective to explore the various aspects of relationship complexities. With the complicated issues of trauma, attachment, family readjustment and reunification, Ryan is uniquely qualified and seasoned to meet students where they are at and compassionately walk with them through the therapeutic process.
Ryan enjoys spending time with his family and participating in the many physical activities available in Utah. These include hiking, weightlifting, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing and triathlons to name a few.
Areas of Expertise
- Anxiety & Depression
- Family Counseling
- Internet Addiction / Pornography
- Sexual Abuse
- Spiritual and Religious Crisis
- Suicidal Ideation
- Trauma – Emotional & Physical Abuse
- Life Transitions
A graduate in Accounting from Utah Valley University, Lindsey handles the daily cash flow and manages the assets of Ascent. She has been with Ascent Companies for over 6 years and married for five. Lindsey and her husband are outdoor enthusiasts. They enjoy camping, fishing, and snowboarding to name a few. Lindsay loves participating in Parent Days and watching the progress students make as a result of being at one of our programs. She is so grateful to be part of an organization that truly changes lives.
Jenica has a unique perspective here at Ascent Companies because she moonlights as a Recreational Therapist at one of our programs in addition to her accounting duties. Originally from Idaho, Jenica enjoys a rich family life nearby. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Therapeutic Recreation. Jenica loves sports and being outside. Her passions include basketball, racquetball, photography, hiking, and biking. Jenica has been really impressed with the culture here. She loves working for a company that cares just as much for their staff as they do their students. She loves being part of the outcomes we produce and working with students directly.
Brittany York began working as the Family Services Coordinator at Discovery Academy in 2019. She graduated from Pace University in New York, New York with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Screen Studies and a minor in History in 2010. Earning a degree in Film and Screen Studies taught her the aesthetics and psychology that goes into telling a story. Brittany brought her skills to a variety of fields including creating wedding videos, working on reality TV programs, commercials, and family history documentaries. She also has worked for an author, therapist, and motivational speaker. These careers gave Brittany experience in helping families to have enjoyable and therapeutic experiences.
Brittany was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She married her high school sweetheart. She loves watching movies, traveling, and learning about history.
Whitney grew up in Allen, Texas where she learned to love the outdoors at a young age! Having had the opportunity to grow up within a household that valued the chores of weeding, mowing and other yard care duties, she experienced the joy of a job well done and the satisfaction of contributing to her family values at a young age.
She made the move to Utah in 2015 to pursue a degree in Art Education. Whitney has been drawing and doodling ever since she was a little girl. She loves art of all kinds, but prefers oil paint in her personal practice. It was the influence of a high school teacher that inspired her to follow her passion.
She chose teaching because she loves working with teenagers and art in the same job. When working with teens, she is reminded of the care and compassion that inspired her and she would like to continue to “Pay it Forward” with others. She loves working with teenagers and helping them learn more about themselves and the world around them.
Whitney’s other interests include spending time with her husband and family, playing board games, going to the gym, reading, camping, and going backpacking!
Annette Davis, M.Ed
Annette Davis came to Discovery Academy in 2018 with many years of experience and leadership in residential treatment settings as well as in private schools. Her master’s degree (M.Ed), focused on educational leadership and compliments well her bachelor’s degrees earned prior to that in English and History. Annette also has a special education certification that has equipped her well over the years as she has led educators and influenced students.
Annette has worked with numerous student populations in the private and public setting prior to Discovery Academy. In her travels she has had the opportunity to work with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Panama and other parts of Central America.
Her special education certification has influenced and contributed to her caring and compassionate demeanor. She loves to be personally engaged in the education of students who find themselves enrolled in a therapeutic environment with emotional and developmental concerns.
Annette adores working with junior high and high school students from different parts of the country as well as from around the world. She enjoys the interactions and personal engagement that accompanies their diverse talents and challenges. She believes as relationships develop student confidence improves and academic proficiency increases. Throughout the years, hiring talented faculty and encouraging quality curriculum development have been two of her major priorities.
Admissions & Family Services
Sporting a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreational Therapy, Megan brings an encouraging energy as well as compassionate demeanor to the many families she interacts with. Parents often mention how thoughtful she is with an innate ability to anticipate their needs as they navigate the admissions process.
Having grown up on a small farm in Northeastern Oregon, Megan brings a solid work ethic, problem solving ability and mature perspective to her roles in Admissions as well as Family Services.
In her leisure time Megan enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, camping and spending time with loved ones and friends.
Boys Program Coordinator
Bronson Garcia began his career at Discovery Academy in September 2016 as a boys’ mentor and then boys’ shift supervisor. He is now the Boys Program Coordinator.
Bronson is a native of Payson, Utah. He loves working with teenagers and has three years of experience coaching junior high school wrestling. Bronson also enjoys fishing and spending time with his family and especially his young son.
Craig Rollo, LMFT
Craig came to Discovery Academy in 2017 with more than twenty years of experience in the adolescent treatment field. He holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Nevada, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UNLV. Prior to joining Discovery Academy, Craig ran group homes for state-mandated children and has worked as a therapist in other residential treatment settings. He has also worked in outpatient therapy for many years. He is a popular guest speaker for seminars, retreats, and cruises speaking to couples about marriage. Craig grew up in southern Utah and loves the mountains, camping, hunting, fishing, wrestling, baseball, track, and football. He also owns a karaoke and DJ business and has sung in many bands over the years. Craig has also performed in several plays over the years, including everything from musicals to melodrama.
Arthur Kleinfelder, ACMHC
Arthur came to Discovery Academy in 2018. He earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology at Utah Valley University and then his Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Argosy University. He had been teaching in the psychology department at UVU for 5 years while also working at the Utah State Prison. Arthur also worked in an outpatient clinic where they rehabilitated children in the juvenile drug court system. His preferred style of therapy is helping individuals find their deeper meaning that will motivate them to their future goals. Arthur specialized in and holds a certification in non-verbal communication and Micro-expressions of the face. He moved to Utah from Los Angeles and enjoys the outdoors at a beach or in the mountains. Arthur has gained a reputation with the students as a “jack of all trades”. He has experience in many areas of music, sports, and health. His passion outside of therapy and education is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where he also teaches children and adults at a local gym.
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.
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.
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.
Bill Bunn, D.O.
Dr. Bunn attended medical school at Des Moines University with clinical training at Ohio University. His psychiatry training was completed at the University of Utah, where he received outstanding Junior and Senior Resident Awards and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism and Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Bunn has written publications in the area of doctor-patient communications and medical education including an article discussing how to help medical students develop more empathy for the mentally ill. He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology and takes a conservative approach to medication management.
Derek has taught at Discovery Academy since 2014. Derek earned his Bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Idaho State University with a major in PE and a minor in Social Studies. Derek has taught for over 20 years in the public schools and is highly qualified as an educator in the areas of history, US Government and reading. Derek has coached football, basketball and track for over 20 years and has twice received the honor of being coach of the year. He also received teacher of the year in 1997. He enjoys teaching at Discovery Academy because of the smaller classes and the opportunity to teach one-on-one.
Adam came to Discovery Academy in August of 2017 after graduating from the University of Utah with his Bachelors Degree in kinesiology. In the Spring of 2017 Adam did his student teaching experience at East High School in Salt Lake City. Adam has been able to substitute teach and coach PE for three years and continues to be passionate about the quality of education and loves being an educator. As a native of Northern Idaho, he loves bike riding, fishing, snowboarding, and essentially any team sport.
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.
Brian Allred, LCMHC
Brian came to Discovery Academy in 2012 and now has over 33 years of experience working with youth in a variety of treatment settings. He is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and over the course of his career he has worked as a therapist, clinical supervisor, program director and clinical director. Brian has helped hundreds of youth and their families work through problems that include chemical addictions, mental health issues and behavioral problems. A self-described “gym rat,” Brian enjoys a variety of sports and recreational activities, but 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.
Austin Haacke, LMFT
Austin began working at Discovery Academy in 2016, Austin has many years of experience working with youth; four years as a frontline staff and two years as an IEP and testing coordinator at a residential treatment center while earning his master’s degree in counseling. Austin is fluent in Spanish and was a Cued Language Translator working with deaf individuals in a school setting. Throughout his career, Austin has developed a passion for experiential therapy and places a great deal of importance in new experiences–especially seeing how individuals and families react in new situations. When he is not doing therapy, he is enjoying time with his wife and two children fishing, working the bees, training service dogs and gardening.
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.
Barbara joined Discovery Academy in the summer 2003 as our Admissions Coordinator. Her passion is working with families in need. She enjoys staying in touch with families over the years and sharing in their healing and success.
Barbara cherishes her time with her husband and her son who now plays college basketball. Please feel free to call anytime to discuss the placement of your son or daughter in any of our Programs!
Stephen Schultz was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. He graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in psychology and received formal training in addictions counseling through the University’s Graduate School of Social Work. He spent several years working in admissions, clinical services, operations and marketing of large healthcare organizations.
Parents are comforted by his unique skill set that includes experience in admissions, administration, clinical and marketing endeavors that has spanned over the course of 30 years. There is rarely a family circumstance related to mental health care that Steve has not seen or assisted families in navigating in a caring and compassionate manner.
Reaching back to his Oregonian roots, Steve never met a rainy day he didn’t like. He looks forward every year to taking his wife and four children back to his family’s cabin in Florence, Oregon for some quality time bass fishing, beach combing and spending time with his extended family.
Jen worked for five years in a residential treatment program as a mentor and house supervisor before coming to Discovery Academy in 2013 as the Girl’s Program Coordinator. She enjoys the challenge of working with at-risk youth. Her greatest reward has been the satisfaction of helping young people 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.
Student Service Coordinator
Tara has been with Discovery Academy since 1999 where she started as a mentor, served as the Girl’s Program Coordinator, Boy’s Program Coordinator and is currently the Student Services Coordinator. Tara’s responsibilities include student wardrobe, medical and dental coordination, student/staff service projects, and general 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 theater.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Cheryl graduated from Brigham Young University in Accounting. She has been with Ascent Companies for 13 years.
Cheryl grew up in Southern Utah and enjoys a very active family life. With three sons, including a set of twins, Cheryl keeps up by running marathons. She and her family are also avid boaters and visit Lake Powell multiple times a year.
Cheryl is a professed nerd at heart and has a passion for accounting and numbers. She also loves going on location to our different programs and supporting those staff members that are directly involved in making a difference in our student’s lives. She is so proud to work for an organization that helps families become whole again.
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.