Erica Crane -
Founding Principal / Superintendent
With a passion for inspiring young people through challenging academic and adventure experiences, Erica has always sought to push her students and teachers beyond what they once thought was possible. She believes in Expeditionary Learning and has worked as a school designer with this organization and also as a teacher and leader in two of its schools. Erica helped create Validus Preparatory Academy, a public Expeditionary Learning high school in the South Bronx with a health and fitness mission. As the Instructional Guide and the driving force behind many school-wide initiatives, she worked to create a culture of innovation and student achievement in academics and character. Without a gym or a field, but with a belief in what was possible, Erica also grew a building-wide athletic department from scratch into one of the most successful small school programs in all of New York City. In addition, Erica has worked closely with five public EL schools in Connecticut as a School Designer. Erica’s spirit of adventure and love of healthy challenge are evident in her work and her play. She desires to craft a school where students find less distinction between the two as they embark on authentic, difficult learning experiences that inspire them to reach their potential at SAEL and beyond. She believes all students can achieve and they will if given the opportunity and high expectations. She earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in Physical Education from Columbia University and is a graduate of Thomaston High School in Connecticut. Erica is so proud to be a member of the SAEL Crew and a leader of such a dynamic, passionate staff.
Michelle O'Shea -
Founding Science Teacher
Michelle came to SAEL with nine years of experience teaching high school science. She taught at two high performing schools in the Bay Area and, while feeling blessed to teach in those communities, it has been her longtime goal to return to her hometown of Grass Valley to live and work as an educator. After graduating from Nevada Union High School, Michelle went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Santa Clara University. She worked in the fields of fisheries biology and environmental toxicology before being drawn to teaching. She earned a Master’s degree in Education from Western Oregon University in 2004 and has been joyfully teaching ever since. Michelle was honored to be recognized as Leland High School’s Teacher of the Year in 2010. The selection was made based on her dedication to students and to the larger school community. As an educator who believes in the importance of inspiring students to participate actively in the improvement of their local and global community, Michelle finds it important to model activism and leadership. One of her proudest professional accomplishments came from the work she did to initiate a conversion to solar power at her school site, eventually expanding to become the nation’s largest solar power project within a school district. Michelle sees her greatest strength in the classroom as her ability to connect with and reach students with differing backgrounds, learning styles, and levels of initial motivation. Her end-of-year student evaluations often cite her diversified teaching strategies, patience, enthusiasm, humor, and caring as reasons why students are successful and why they enjoy her classes. Michelle emphasizes critical thinking and active student engagement in her classes and is excited to be a part of SAEL where this is a shared priority.
Dale Berry -
Founding Adventure/PE Teacher and Fieldwork
Adventure has been a consistent theme in Dale’s life and a powerful force in his personal and professional development. As a founding teacher at SAEL, Dale is thrilled at the opportunity to create a program that aligns itself to character and culture of the school’s mission and the Expeditionary Learning model. At Prescott College in Arizona, Dale received his BA from one of the best Adventure Education programs in the country. Dale started his career in education as a volunteer for a small, EL high school in the South Bronx, teaching students fitness, international sports, wilderness first aid, and providing opportunities for service as environmental stewards. As the cross-country coach, he helped young students from a diverse array of physical abilities develop a love of running and team culture, helping to create both life long runners and one of the most successful programs in New York City.
Working as an IT project manager for more than 10 years in London and New York, Dale balanced both his career in banking and his love of education before transferring his life back outside full-time, and following his dream to become an Adventure Educator.
Growing up in outback Australia, Dale spent his youth adventuring on the banks of the Murray River, and attributes this time period exploring diverse natural landscapes as the foundation to his affiliation with the natural world. His passion for sports and adventure guided many of his travels around the world, but none more important than a 30,000 mile trip throughout Australia. Dale believes it is a privilege to be able to teach and to lead young people and he looks forward to helping students develop rich and binding connections with life outside. In addition, Dale played semi- professional Australian Rules Football in his home country, has adventured around the world, and loves to move through natural landscapes as an ultra-runner and mountain biker.
I am excited to join the team at SAEL I bring my life, education and career experience to help the students to develop strong character and leadership skills. I am a fourth generation Nevada County resident. I have lived in this area for most of my life except during college where I studied Animal Science and Criminal Justice at Sierra Community College and California State University Chico I then went on to the Butte Police Academy graduating with honors. During my summers I worked as an Outfitter Guide and Packer for guided back county horse trips.
After college, I started my 30 plus year Career in Law Enforcement. Working first as a Reserve Fish and Game Warden, then moving on to becoming a full time Police Officer and finishing my Law Enforcement career as a Deputy Sheriff. During my career I had the opportunity to do many diverse assignments such as Search and Rescue, High Country Patrol, Field Training Officer, Department trainer, School Resource Officer, and Courthouse Security/Bailiff.
During that time I remember most fondly my assignment as a School Resource officer where I worked closely with both the staff and students at NUHS.
I personally love the outdoors and enjoy spending time in the high country with my wife Phyllis our Horses and Mule. We love adventures exploring the Sierra Nevadas and Rocky Mountains. We have a small ranch where we and raise Haflinger Horses and Mules. We currently have 11 grand children and love taking them on adventures in the outdoors from backpacking to horse trips and camping to fishing trips.
Marika joins the SAEL community filled with inspiration, energy, and optimism. She is excited to have the opportunity of teaching and learning within the expeditionary model which truly synthesizes her passions for education, artistic expression, nature connection, self discovery, and service. She believes that when immersed in nature, community, meaningful experience, and thoughtful dialogue, students start learning and unfolding more authentically because their own expanding sense of self is perfectly matched by the endless possibilities our earth and humanity provide. As a dedicated and mindful educator, she strives to guide and support students in aiming high, pursuing their goals, realizing their potential, and developing a strong sense of identity.
Born and raised in Walnut Creek, CA, Marika entered the world with a spirit of adventure and has always been eager to explore new ideas and places. After graduating high school, she traveled broadly for a few years before deciding to return to school for a new and expansive journey. Marika graduated magna cum laude from Humboldt State University in 2004, receiving her Bachelors of Arts degree in English Language Arts with minors in Native American Studies and ESL. She earned her Secondary Teaching Credential from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2005.
Over the last twelve years, Marika has taught students of all ages, in a variety of settings, and within diverse program models. She excelled in her previous middle and high school teaching positions and while taking a leave of absence from secondary education to be home with her own children, she continued to develop teaching and leadership skills by founding an early childhood program and serving as a youth scout leader with the Baden Powell Service Association. In addition to teaching and learning, some of Marika’s favorite things are strong coffee, glowing campfires, big trees, bright colors, silver jewelry, hearty laughter, live music, long hugs, and winding country roads.
Byron Bird -
Byron has been called a physics philosopher because of his desire to make physics a way of thinking about all sorts of problems, not just little wooden blocks sliding down ramps. Growing up near Yosemite, he took his earliest education from oak trees and granite boulders, eventually getting a “real” education in the backwoods of New York state. After teaching in Japan and doing some outdoor education near Santa Cruz, Byron decided it was time to build longer relationships with adventurous woodsy students back in the Sierra Foothills. He and his wife live on a small farm raising goats and chickens with two young boys, getting their educations, as it should be, from the open space and wildness of the mountains.
Kristina McLean -
Guidance / College Counselor
Kristina McLean joins the SAEL staff with a wealth of experience in providing guidance and support to high school students. She serves in a college and guidance counselor role while also providing community and parent outreach. She is also a proud SAEL parent, and recently moved to the area with her family from Chicago so that her children would have access to the wonderful Expeditionary Learning schools in the community. Kristina has also served as a social worker and has worked within community based organizations and schools throughout her professional career. She is a former SAEL Board Member and has taken part in a variety of SAEL volunteer work, centered mainly on community engagement and fundraising to help get the school program started. She has become part SAEL’s Site Council and, along with her daughter, Family Council.
Greg Geraldo comes to SAEL from Yuba City, California. As a former Math and English teacher at a large, traditional public high school, he is excited to engage in Expeditionary Learning with SAEL’s smaller, more personal campus. Greg spent his youth nearby the rivers, lakes, and trails of Northern California. A classically trained violist, Greg performed with several community orchestras and quartets in his hometown, and went on to play in college. Today, he practices guitar in his free time, and aspires to get involved in the Gold Country music scene. The Boy Scouting program was a formative influence in his life and he contends that the best summers of his life were spent as a Harbormaster, water sports instructor, and counselor at Camp Winton in Pioneer, CA. His Scouting experience culminated in earning the Eagle Scout award and a lifelong love for the outdoors. As an undergraduate at Lewis & Clark College, Greg studied a breadth of subjects on the Portland, Oregon campus and abroad in Dublin, Ireland. While abroad, he worked with the Dublin Youth Theatre as a management intern and joyfully studied Irish music, theatre, and culture. Psychology was Greg’s primary course of study, and he earned the Miller Internship Grant to study Developmental ADHD at Oregon Health & Science University. Greg’s senior capstone project focused on the psychological effects of framing on political preference in the United States. Greg is thrilled to be a part of the SAEL Crew. He is passionate about student engagement, and believes firmly that his role as a teacher and CREW leader is to challenge students to push their limits, support them as individuals, and exemplify the joys and fulfillment of lifelong learning.
Sonya enthusiastically joins the SAEL crew with a creative drive and passion for the arts including dance, visual, and language arts.
Since 2005 Sonya has pursued her passion for dance, training in a variety of styles including ballet, modern, hip hop, African, jazz, Oriental dance and others. She has taught, coached and co-directed for the Bear River High School dance program and has danced professionally as a principle dancer with Sacramento based company Nhan Ho Project. Sonya approaches dance not only as an athletic discipline but as an art form, tool for self discovery and collaboration, and opportunity for community engagement.
As a visual artist of many forms and mediums, Sonya values the process of exploration and experimentation and loves turning unexpected errors into new possibilities. As a teacher of art, Sonya finds SAEL’s student centered model to be particularly valuable, as she believes in the power of art for personal expression and as a journey in creative problem solving. Sonya believes that art is everywhere and presents itself in many forms. She believes that everyone is capable of artistic endeavors and values a resourceful, process based approach.
Sonya believes that the arts provide an opportunity for students to learn about themselves and connect to the world around them, and language arts are no exception. Sonya obtained her B.A magna cum laude in English as well as a minor in dance and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate from Sacramento State University and is currently perusing her Master's degree. Sonya hopes that as a teacher at SAEL she can empower students to be confident and curious lifelong learners and creators.
Bio coming soon!
Richard brings a diverse and skilled background that will be an asset to our students and community. A love of physical fitness and outdoor adventures started at a young age and informs Richard’s belief that the greatest growth, introspection and accomplishment transpire when the human mind and body is impelled beyond its comfort zone. While working towards a B.S. in Recreation Resource Management and an M.S. in Natural Resources Richard always sought to balance the pursuit of higher education with high-level adventure. Richard left every summer to work in the mountains for the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and while on campus found community and employment leading outdoor adventure trips for the universities outdoor program. In the years since Richard has continued to blend his love for education and conservation while working for our nations public land management agencies across the Western US. When not working Richard has always sought out challenges to his own comfort zone. This thirst for challenge has taken him across the globe in search of new rivers, mountains and cultures. Newly married and settled in the foothills of California Richard spends his free time whitewater kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, running, skiing, climbing and staring at maps while dreaming up the next great adventure. Richard is thrilled to bring his energy and experience to the task of instilling a passion for lifetime fitness and adventure within the students at SAEL.
“The time for incremental change is no longer an option” begins his presentation on blending academic goals of a school and applications of real consequence within the local and global community. Travis Duckworth believes that we can do better and, in regards to education and environment, delay and small advances are unacceptable. The Expeditionary Learning model has drawn Travis back into the classroom with enthusiasm for a collaborative effort to transform the way we prepare the next generation to take ownership of their learning and become stewards of our planet.
Travis, his wife Leah, and son Eliah moved here in the spring of 2017 after completing a four-year midwifery adventure through the southwest. After leaving Taos, New Mexico, they launched Sol Chai at the Nevada City farmer’s market as a way to literally sit down with a cup of tea and get to know the town. That incredibly rewarding experience began the building of lifelong relationships combined with a love of the foothills, particularly the Yuba River, has secured this place as home.
When not brewing tea, hiking, or swimming Travis is writing curriculum and designing hardware for high schools and colleges across the country revolving around three pillars: sustainable architecture, agriculture, and economics. His company, EdComm, is working to connect the real world and education by empowering students with the skills to build (and power) their own houses, grow their own food, and keep money local. Before leaving El Paso, Texas, this multi-disciplinary approach that expands beyond school walls gained Travis recognition from the City of El Paso and Congressman Beto O’Rourke and found him named as one of the 100 most innovative educators in the country (2014) as well as teacher of the year (2013).
We live in an interconnected world and Travis is honored to join this phenomenal crew at SAEL to collectively build a bridge to a relevant and inspiring education.
SAEL is currently looking for an Office / Attendance Aide:
All interested candidates can email the following materials to Principal Crane directly:
• Resume and SAEL Application for All Staff (see below)
• 2 Letters of Recommendation
• 3 References
There are no teacher openings at this time. Any teachers who are serious about revolutionizing education with us can reach out to Principal Erica Crane at firstname.lastname@example.org with a resume and rationale for why you are interested in SAEL. Even if there is not an opening, we can keep your information on file. The rationale can take any format, from the body of an email, a video, a list, an infographic, or a more traditional cover letter.
Our sports teams are shared with Ghidotti and we always accept coaching applications in case there are shifts on staff in Cross Country, Track,Basketball, Volleyball, or Soccer.
SAEL APPLICATION FOR ALL STAFF_2019.pdf
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OFFICE AIDE Job Description 19-20.pdf
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SAEL Teacher Job Description_2019.pdf
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Sports Coach Job Description_2018-19 (1).docx.pdf
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OFFICE MANAGER Job Description 2019.pdf
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SAEL Custodian : Operations Job Description_2018-19.pdf
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Certificated SAEL Salary Step.pdf
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Non-Certificated and Other Salary Step Schedule_2018 - Sheet1 (1).pdf
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SAEL Staff and Volunteer Handbook 2018-2019 (1) (1) (2).pdf
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Amy Hooper -
Founding Social Science Teacher
Amy is beyond excited to be on the SAEL team! Growing up surrounded by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, she heard the call of the natural world as a young child. Amy’s father, an elementary PE and History teacher, inspired her to become an explorer and a teacher.
Her sense of adventure compelled her to spend much of her free time traveling the world and immersing herself in diverse cultures and new experiences. She has backpacked in South America, Central America, Australia, and Europe. Amy studied abroad at Hobart University in Tasmania, Australia, where her passion for environmental and cultural involvement evolved deeply. Her experiences in Panama led Amy to a Teacher Fellowship from Earth Train, a leadership training organization based in Panama’s biologically and culturally rich jungle. She acted as a special adviser on "cross-biocultural learning" and is eager to continue her relationship with Earth Train to support the opportunity for students to go abroad as well. Her passion for adventure has given her a wide perspective on the world and plenty of ideas for opportunities that exist for the experiential learning of Geography and History.
Amy attended the University of Nevada, Reno, studying Secondary Education with an emphasis in Social Studies and English as a Second Language. After receiving her B.A. from UNR, she made it her goal to find a hands-on learning environment in the Social Science field. Prior to arriving in the Sierra foothills, Amy took part in teaching 8th grade History and Language Arts in Truckee, California. Her discovery of Expeditionary Learning at SAEL offers the perfect outlet for Amy’s love for learning and adventure. She brings to SAEL a passion for inspiring and challenging youth through educational experiences that explore and connect with Social Science.
Sara James is a powerful student advocate who comes to SAEL via the UK with a passion for empowering and supporting all learners to excel. Spending much of her early childhood in Africa, she then attended a boarding school in England and earned her BA in Philosophy from the University of Leeds.
Sara completed her UK teacher training in 2007, initially teaching Social Studies, English, and Comparative World Religion. She was promoted to departmental chair in 2009 and later joined the administrative team to support the school during a period of dynamic change.
In 2013 Sara moved to California to pursue her MA in Teaching in Special Education at Sierra Nevada College, adding a California Education Specialist credential to her Social Studies credential. As part of her masters she completed a 2 year internship at SAEL, focusing her research on developing academic mindsets and related learning strategies in order to support students with learning disabilities in the inclusive classroom.
An avid white-water kayaker, Sara brings with her to SAEL a real passion for adventure. She has travelled and competed around the world including tackling the challenging rapids of the Zambezi river, completing multi-day trips in the Himalayas, dropping waterfalls in Iceland and competing at the 2009 World Kayak Freestyle Championships. When there is no water around, Sara likes to ski, climb, hike or skateboard. In 2017 -2018 she took a series of Wilderness Education classes through Lake Tahoe Community College in order to further extend her skills in this area. She is trained as a Wilderness First Responder and certified in River Rescue.
Sara is excited to be on the SAEL Crew as she fully embodies the idea that we are "Crew, not passengers."
Ryan eagerly joins the SAEL team knowing that she has found her perfect career match. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Ryan was introduced to and captivated by a variety of cultures and lifestyles. Her thirst for learning and new experiences drew her to pursue a college education on the other side of the country. While studying at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, she fell in love with the human mind and declared her major in Psychology. Ryan also studied Spanish, leading her to Mendoza, Argentina in the foothills of the Andes for a six month study abroad program. During this time she was inspired to minor in Hispanic studies as well.
After receiving her B.A. from Wheaton College, Ryan traveled to satisfy her inner adventurer and to please her self-declared foodie appetite. Once she landed in the Foothills of the Sierras, with its accessibility to outdoor recreation, the changing of the seasons, and the small town charm she had grown to love back East, she knew she was home. A passion for education combined with her leadership and teaching experience pointed Ryan to California State University at Sacramento where she earned her single subject credential in English.
Ryan is thrilled to join the team at SAEL where she can contribute her love for the English arts, adventuring spirit, and positivity towards the education of today’s great young minds. She’s excited to be teaching, but equally looking forward to the learning experiences that being a part of a cutting edge community will bring.
Caitlin is excited to be joining SAEL as a math teacher. Caitlin believes that everyone can be a math person, and the best way to make this happen is to facilitate hands-on, active lessons. She found her passion for teaching in college where she tutored peers and taught outdoor education classes. After graduating Stanford with a B.S in Earth Systems, she moved to Wisconsin to teach high school students at Conserve School. This experience made her realize that teaching was the right choice for her. Upon returning to California, she could not wait to start working in an EL classroom. Now, at SAEL, Caitlin hopes to share her love of math with students and give them concrete and fun examples of when math can be used outside the classroom. Caitlin also loves spending her time reading, exploring mountains, snowboarding, biking, photography, and traveling.
Megan eagerly joins the SAEL team as one of our Social Science teachers. Growing up in the diverse melting pot of Los Angeles, she was exposed to and fascinated by the wide array of cultures and languages around the world from an early age. Her desire to think critically and engage with people from all walks of life eventually led her to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she received her BA in Sociology and Anthropology. Here, she jumped headfirst into hiking, kayaking, and river rafting all over the Pacific Northwest and participated on her very first trip outside of the US on a four month study abroad program to Kenya and Tanzania. Her days abroad were spent surveying marine conservation efforts in the Indian Ocean, living amongst members of one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the world, and conducting written and verbal surveys in Swahili to research educational opportunities for females in rural villages throughout the region.
Megan first joined the SAEL community back in 2015 as a long-term substitute, where she helped lead classes in every subject and supported a variety of fieldwork outings for all grade levels. Her thirst for travel was far from over, however, and after her first year with us she decided to take some time to solo-backpack through Europe, live and work on farms in the Scottish Highlands and rural Maine, and serve as a teaching assistant at a Nature Center high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina for a year. Her love not only for California but most importantly for teaching has brought her back to her home state and the great professional community at SAEL.
Her participation and work in the progressive EL model, along with her thirst for travel and adventure, has cemented her belief that hands-on experience outside of the classroom can challenge and transform young adults in ways that traditional forms of education simply cannot. As someone who has developed an enthusiasm for the power of this kind of philosophy not only in education but in life, Megan returns to Sierra Academy with a passion for learning and an eagerness to work hard and grow alongside both colleagues and students alike.
As the parent of a SAEL student, Tami has a deep appreciation for SAEL and the programs it offers. Initially participating as a member of the Site Council and President of the PTC, Tami will continue to support our students and staff as the Office Assistant, working on attendance and outreach.
Moving to Nevada County in 2002 from the Bay Area, Tami spent 6 years at The Union in the Display Advertising Department. Developing client relationships, meeting tight deadlines and managing the small sales team, her organizational, administrative, and interpersonal relationship skills were key.
In 2008 her love of art and crafts and retail management experience called her back to retail as the Marketing Manager at Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames where she managed the print and online advertising, worked with the buying team, and taught craft classes.
While her daughter attended Deer Creek Elementary and Seven Hills Middle School she taught after school arts and crafts enrichment classes and volunteered as a member of the Deer Creek and Seven Hills PTCs.
As a young adult, Tami was a seasonal wildland firefighter while working for the USFS on a Young Adult Conversation Crew (YACC). This was a program that provided young people with year-round conservation-related employment and education opportunities. For a few years, Tami called Lake Tahoe home where she learned to mountain bike, snowshoe, cross country ski and paddle a canoe.
A lifetime of putting out fires and keeping her head above water (figuratively), along with her administrative and organizational skills make Tami a great fit on the SAEL Office Crew.
Mallory’s teaching began in Santa Cruz where she taught the same College Preparatory Math (CPM) curriculum that we use here at SAEL. She loves seeing students working together toward a common problem and hopes students find her classroom challenging and engaging.
Before teaching, Mallory studied at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business where she double majored in International Business and Management, with a minor in Spanish. After college she moved to South America where she worked for an educational non-profit in Bolivia. After two years in South America, working with students, she decided to return to the US to teach.
Mallory is excited to return to the classroom in 2019after two years traveling around Europe with her family. Their adventures included living on a nature reserve in Wales where she applied her math background to help manage land and expand the eco-tourism business. She is passionate about teaching real-world applications and loves how expeditionary learning incorporates this.
Mary Hunter has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business from Chico State. A Bay Area native, she and her family have lived in Nevada County for over 20 years.She has the ideal balance of office administrative skills and passion for EL Education to be a perfect teammate on our front office staff. She has previously worked for several years at Grass Valley Charter School as an instructional aide for the middle school program, contributing to the expansion of EL principles on the playground as well as in the classroom and staff rooms. Additionally, she has worked as a customer service account specialist, office manager, and logistics coordinator. Her organizational skills and attention to detail are a great asset to our Crew! And her warmth, good humor, and love of young people is appreciated by all who call or visit Sierra Academy. For fun, she dances! Look for her fast feet the next time you see the Tommyknocker Cloggers performing in town.
I find it very rewarding to help people learn, practice and master Spanish, my native language. My interest in languages and literature started at an early age, I grew up bilingual in Spanish and Catalan, and later I studied French and English.
I hold a BA in Humanities (Language and Literature, History, Art, Philosophy) from a Spanish university. In 2010 I earned an Español Lengua Extranjera (ELE) teaching certificate from the International House and University of Barcelona (UB). Since then, I have been teaching Spanish to students of different levels, ages, and educational backgrounds. Wanting to further my education, in 2012 I completed a Masters in Teaching Spanish as a foreign language. In the last two years, I have taken additional courses covering: Second Language Acquisition, Teaching Methodology, Literacy Across Content Areas, Common Core State Standards, Blended and Online Learning and Dual purpose lessons.
Through my education and teaching experience, I have learned about multiple intelligences and learning styles, to apply different teaching methodologies and to customize instruction in order to meet learners´ needs. I use data gathered from the lessons to plan instruction and adjust my teaching. With all this in mind, I make sure to provide equal opportunities for all learners. In that regard, I support learners through a collaborative model that combines language development, critical thinking and cultural responsive teaching. I believe in implementing an interdisciplinary approach linking skills and topics across the curriculum. As for assessment and evaluation, I give prompt feedback to my students focusing on the strengths before moving to the areas for growth.
My hobbies are sports (Mountain Biking, Tennis, Soccer, Track & Field, Swimming, Paddling) and ballroom dance (Tango, Lindy Hop, Blues, Salsa). I feel honored to be part of SAEL team. I want to contribute to the Crew to make our learning expeditions educational and fun!
Desmond Sandy is a California native through and through with a Sacramento birth, Redding upbringing, and a UC Santa Barbara education. Having studied English Literature with the goal of becoming a teacher, Desmond was torn between adventure and professional development. The solution after graduating was teaching classes at a summer camp at Ojai Valley School for two summers, split by a WWOOF experience on an Alaskan organic vegetable farm. Significant time as a substitute teacher satiated his desire to teach while he explored drumming in a band, surfing, skiing and traveling through life with Brooke Sandy. Basic woodwork, welding, auto-mechanics, electrical, sewing, writing, sales, and customer service are all skills that define Desmond and have culminated in the creation of Gold Crush climbing gym in Grass Valley. With two business partners and and amazingly generous community, Desmond spent 2016 applying (and exhausting) every skill and mental capacity he has acquired over the years to build and run Gold Crush. He and Brooke also had their first son in February 2016 and have been loving every moment with him. Desmond is thrilled to join the incredible team at SAEL. Being appreciated for my hodge-podge of skills and getting the opportunity to share my knowledge means a lot. With technology always providing prompt “solutions” throughout our busy lives, it’s so important to be able to think multi-dimensionally, and to act with intention. I feel like SAEL really encourages and exemplifies this approach and I’m excited to contribute. With his wife, Brooke Sandy as a current teacher, substitute teaching at SAEL, leading a two-week climbing intensive, and attending various SAEL adventures, Desmond is new but familiar. The main difference is that now the students have to call him Mr. Sandy.
I graduated from Sierra College in 2013 with an Associates of Arts Degree in Computer Information Systems with a Computer Service Tech Concentration of studies.
I love working with and on computers, solving computer problems, and helping keep the network running. In my off time, I enjoy computer gaming both on and offline as well as watching action type movies. I am excited for the opportunity to work at Sierra Academy and feel like I am a great addition to the team.
As a second-generation Nevada County resident, I am proud to be in the SAEL Crew. As a Father of 5, and a Charter School graduate myself, I have a passion for quality education that inspires young people to learn, grow, and excel. With two Associate level degrees from Sierra College, a background in Urban and Wildland Firefighting, and experience in the Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Mechanical fields, I bring an eclectic and varied background to the SAEL Crew, along with a passion and dedication to excellence.