Athletics Department

Tricia Andersen, JV Ultimate Frisbee Coach

Those who know Tricia well describe her as faithful, fearless, and fun. A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Tricia grew up playing club soccer, but she discovered the “celestial sport”—ultimate—during college. She quickly gained an affinity for ultimate during the early years of the Orem Ultimate League. Tricia is a graduate of BYU with a bachelor of science in zoology. She is a USAU certified coach and has a passion for teaching and organizing youth activities, especially athletics. In neighborhoods where she has lived, she is known as the “Kool-Aid Mom” because children flock to her to play whatever sport she is found organizing on any given day. She and her husband are the parents of five children—two boys, both of who attend AHS, and three girls whom Tricia teaches at home. The Andersens’ favorite activities together typically involve BYU sports, service, kayaking, hiking, good books, music, dancing, or making pizza.

Stephen Blake, Soccer Coach

Stephen Blake was born and raised in the islands of Fiji—Bula! While in high school, he ran track and played soccer and field hockey. Stephen represented his country and played soccer for 8 years in the Fiji National Soccer U17, U20 and Olympic Men’s Teams, and was able to travel all of the South Pacific and much of Southeast Asia for competition. He became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was 22 years old. After playing soccer for his country, Brigham Young University Hawaii offered him an academic and athletic scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise & Sport Science. Stephen served an LDS mission in Sacramento, California. He and his wife, Kamaile, their two children, and a little dog happily reside in Orem, Utah.

Yahosh Bonner, Athletic Director

Yahosh comes to American Heritage having served as the Director of Basketball Operations for Southern Utah University, Assistant Coach at Western Nebraska Community College, and most recently as the Head Varsity Basketball Coach at American Leadership Academy, where he also taught a “Values in Leadership” course and served as the “Voice of the Eagles” announcer for several sports. Yahosh served an Latter-day Saint mission in Tampa, Florida, and is a second-generation member of the Latter-Day Saint faith (his parents joined the Church in Connecticut). He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communications from the University of Northern Colorado and Southern Utah University, respectively. He played basketball at the University of Northern Colorado, where he was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and where he also competed in track (long jump) and football. In addition to athletics administration and teaching, Yahosh also loves singing and acting. View a music video of the Bonner family’s original composition “I Am Here” and a duet “One Call Away.”  Yahosh and his wife, Vanessa, are the parents of two sons and one daughter: Malachi, Samaiah, and Nehemiah.

Paora Winitana, Director of Basketball Operations

Coach Paora Winitana was born and raised in New Zealand.  He moved to Utah with his wife Tia and their 6 children to coach basketball at American Heritage school. Paora loves the gospel and is passionate about the game of basketball. He graduated from the Church College of New Zealand, served a mission in Australia and played professionally for 20 years including two World Championship tournaments (2002/2006) and Olympic Games (2004).  He is grateful and excited to be able to use all these experiences and knowledge to help others become the best versions of themselves, and to come closer to the Savior through sports and coaching.

Savanah Laycock, MS Physical Education Teacher

Savanah grew up in American Fork and graduated from American Fork High School as a Sterling Scholar with high honors. She spent her first year of college in Ephraim at Snow College and transferred her second year to Brigham Young University in Provo. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Wellness. Over the course of her college experience, she earned certificates in basic lifesaving, CPR, and first aid. Once she graduated, she earned a phlebotomist technician certificate. Savanah has a deep appreciation for education and the challenge it brings. She loves the outdoors and spending time playing sports or games with her family. Savanah married her husband Jake in the Provo City Center, Temple, and together they have a baby boy, Jett.

Brian Smith, Athletic & Wellness

Brian Smith was born in Anchorage, Alaska and moved at an early age to Nashville, Tennessee. He moved several more times before he graduated from high school but spent most of his years growing up in Nashville and Dallas, Texas. Half way through high school his family moved to Orem, Utah where Brian graduated from Mountain View High School. Brian became a student athlete at BYU competing in both track and field and football. He graduated from BYU with a BS in Exercise and Wellness. Brian served a Latter-day Saint mission in Monterrey, Mexico. Upon coming home from his mission, he began his coaching career as a personal trainer. Brian attributes his athletic opportunities to having good coaches and trainers which have been his motivation to give back and help other youth have similar opportunities. Brian has certifications in training, nutrition, functional movement screening, and strength and conditioning. Brian was married to the love of his life, Emily, in the Salt Lake Temple and they have two beautiful boys. Brian is so excited to be a part of the AHS team and is looking forward to bringing together athletics and Christ centered living.

Fine Arts Department

Chris Culver, Art

Christine Culver has a BFA from the University of Utah class of 2004. She became President of the Alpine Community Arts Council in 2003. She is a professional landscape photographer. She has been teaching at American Heritage School since 2005. Christine received the AHS Rosalie J. Slater “Teaching in Excellence Award” in 2007. Her goal is to mentor, teach, and perform in a way that will inspire her students to be more creative and reflect God’s gifts through artistic visual creations.

Eric Heywood, Art

Eric is a local artist, classically trained in Europe, specializing in figurative and landscape painting. After completing an Art Degree from Snow College, Eric moved with his wife and three children to Italy where he studied in various academies and ateliers. After first attending the Intensive Drawing Program at the Florence Academy of Art, Eric transferred to the Florence Academy of Russian Art where he studied under Master-Artists from the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. During these years, Eric supplemented his training by attending night sessions at Studio Chiaro-Scuro to study with Master Artist Sergey Churbiko from St. Petersburg. Additionally, Eric took full advantage of the treasures of Florence and Rome—daily sketching and studying in the many basilicas, churches, museums, and live model sessions in local studios and ateliers. Eric has now returned to Utah and resides in Alpine, dividing his time as a bronze patina artist in a local foundry, working in his own studio, and preparing coursework for teaching.

Jan Parker, Art (K-5)

Jan Parker was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in Summit, New Jersey. She attended BYU in the fall of 1974, where she graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration. She worked at the BYU photo studio for three of those years. She has worked as a Graphic Designer for Conant Associates and in Interior Design at Ethan Allen until starting her family of six children – 3 boys and 3 girls all grown and now living in Utah, New York City, Virginia, London (England) and the youngest serving a mission in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For the past 16 years, Mrs. Parker has lived in Alpine, Utah. She started oil painting eleven years ago with a group of other artists and found her artistic passion. She does commissioned oil paintings and works on many commercial murals in locations such as the American Fork Junior High Library, where she did a “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme. In addition to art, Mrs. Parker also loves to quilt, cook, read, travel when she can, and she looks forward to serving a mission someday. Mrs. Parker feels very blessed as a single woman with almost four grandchildren, and two lovely sisters that live in Alpine, and Burley, Idaho. Mrs. Parker has an abiding testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and cherishes her membership in the church as well her relationship with the Savior.

Nelsen Campbell, Band

Nelsen Campbell has been teaching in different circles for a number of years as a private music instructor while also working with large and small music ensembles. His individual students study trombone, euphonium, trumpet, and piano. Some of the ensembles that he has worked with at music camps and as a guest educator range from quartets to wind symphonies and full jazz ensembles. After finishing an Associate of Arts degree at Snow College, he completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Utah Valley University. While in school, Nelsen studied trombone performance and participated in full orchestras, wind symphonies, jazz ensembles, brass quintets, jazz combos, and trombone choirs. Nelsen has a passion for teaching, focusing on individual needs as well as the entire class. To him, teaching is a responsibility as well as a privilege and he loves the opportunity to share his passion for music as well as his love for the gospel as a teacher on a daily basis. His hobbies include spending time with his wife and daughters, playing recreational sports, playing gigs around the country, and doing anything creative, from composing music to building with Lego.

Emily Halverson, Kinder Music Teacher/Accompanist

Emily Halverson is so excited to begin a new chapter at American Heritage! She has spent the last sixteen years as a music curriculum specialist where she also taught music and choir at another private school. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from BYU and is Kodaly Level III certified. In 2003, she auditioned for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square where she served for five years. She is the youngest of six very musical siblings and enjoys singing with them. She also enjoys singing duets with her husband with whom she has a combined family of eight awesome children. She absolutely loves teaching music to children and accompanying choirs, and is definitely looking forward to an incredible future at American Heritage!

September Howard, Music

September was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia. She came to Utah to attend BYU where she studied Music Education and minored in Family Life at BYU. She enjoyed being part of the BYU Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir, and BYU Singers until her graduation (December 2020). She and her husband were married in the Salt Lake Temple and now have a beautiful baby boy named Grayson. She loves spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, going on walks, and trying new things!  She’s excited to join the Music Dept. at American Heritage School.

Deborah Otteson, Music Teacher Grades 2-5

Deborah R. Otteson was born in Oakridge, Tenn. But mainly grew up in Northern California. She is the eldest of nine living children. She graduated from Ricks and BYU (Provo) with a degree in Secondary Music Education. After serving a mission in the Oregon Portland Mission, she started teaching music in her hometown of Shelley, Idaho and spent her summers in Hartford, Conn. earning a degree in the Kodály Method at the KMTI. During her time in Idaho, she was also involved in many musicals, operas and singing groups. After she moved back to this area with her children in 2001 she completed the InterMuse Kodaly certification program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She is excited to be at American Heritage School teaching children in grades 1-5.

Robert Swenson, Music

Rob Swenson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Brigham Young University and Level III OAKE-endorsed Kodály certification. He has taught choir at American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork, Utah; at Timpanogos Academy in Lindon, Utah; and at Liahona High School in Liahona, Tonga, where he also served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2008, he joined the faculty at American Heritage School, where he currently teaches AP Music Theory and directs middle and high school choirs. From 2004-2007, he served as an assistant director with the Utah Valley Children’s Choir, leaving in 2007 to found the American Heritage Youth Chorus. Under his direction, this faith-centered choral program for children and youth has grown to include over 200 members who perform free, inspirational programs for audiences throughout the United States. Rob received the 2016 Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Christmas Carol Commission for his “Christmas Hosanna.” In Fall 2016, his original composition, “Go Forth From This House,” was recognized as a second-place winner and was performed at the state conference of the Utah ACDA. Rob resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife, Kristy, and their four children.

Melissa Swingle, Men’s Choir

Melissa is ecstatic to be joining the American Heritage team! She has a BA in Music Education from BYU-Idaho and has a Level I Orff Schulwerk certification. She served a mission in Long Beach, California before moving to Utah. Melissa started teaching music in Bluffdale 10 years ago and married her husband Todd that same year. They have two children and enjoy singing, making music, and dancing together as a family. After living in 3 other states, they’re happy to be moving back to Utah just in time for the new school year. Melissa has been a member of two professional choruses, the Utah Symphony Chorus and Nashville Symphony Chorus. She enjoys participating in musical theater when she gets a chance and likes to go on easy hikes with her family. Her choir-shaped heart is excited to be working with the students at AHA.

Lisa Brodie, Symphonic Strings Orchestra Conductor

Lisa is a highly trained and experienced conductor, violinist, and singer. She has over 25 years’ experience conducting and coaching youth orchestras of all levels. Prior to joining the Lyceum Orchestra program as a conductor, Lisa conducted with the Timpanogos String Orchestra program (TCO). Students from her program have gone on to study at Eastman, Colburn School of Music, New England Conservatory, Interlochen, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, BYU, and U of U, among others. Lisa is excited to bring her love of working with young musicians to the Lyceum Orchestras program. Mrs. Brodie comes from a musical family. Her mother is a professional violinist and conductor, and all four of Lisa’s children perform professionally in classical, jazz and composition. She currently teaches advanced violin students, loves to play classical and bluegrass mandolin and is currently taking organ lessons. Lisa and her husband, Jeff live in Alpine. They have four children and four grandchildren, two of whom attend AHS.

Kayson Brown, Orchestra

Kayson holds a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Brigham Young University where he served as conducting and cello faculty. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Utah. He is certified in the Suzuki method and has more than two decades of experience teaching cello including one of the industry-leading websites to teach cello — Learn2playCello.com. Kayson has over a dozen years experience conducting more than 25 symphony orchestras including professional, university, community, and educational ensembles. He is a passionate, nationally-recognized music educator whose primary goal is to inspire audiences and musicians through music. As the founder of the Lyceum Music Festival and director of the Lyceum Orchestras Program at American Heritage School, he oversees the largest youth orchestra program in the state of Utah and a nationally significant summer music festival. In all these endeavors, Kayson seeks to connect aspiring young musicians with their music industry counterparts and has succeeded in attracting a national audience to the meaningful music made by Utah’s local youth. Kayson has produced, conducted, orchestrated and arranged numerous albums both independently and with the Lyceum Philharmonic. He has been featured conducting on nationally televised PBS Specials with The Piano Guys, recorded for SONY Masterworks and has been recognized by Best of State Utah and American String Teachers Association as one of the leading music educators in the nation. His music and student musicians have been heard over 125 million times on YouTube and have reached the top of the Billboard Charts on three separate albums.

Jay Clark, Technical Director

Jay Clark has worked in professional theater, dance, opera and touring companies for 20 years before being hired by the Latter-day Saint Church in 2000 as a Cultural Arts Producer. There he was involved in the 2002 Olympic production, the Christmas presentation, “Savior of the World”, Pageants and many other Church stage and video projects. He loves performing and listening to music and considers being a part of the faculty at AHS the highlight of his professional and personal career. He and his wife Lynda have 6 children and 9 grandchildren.

LauraLyn Eberting, Music (AHYC)

LauraLyn Eberting loves music and is delighted to be a part of American Heritage School’s Children’s Choir. She grew up singing and making music with her family and then went to law school and became an attorney. While in college she taught piano lessons, played the violin with a BYU orchestra, sang with the Mormon Youth Chorus, and performed as an entertainer in Lagoon’s Music USA. Welcome, Mrs. Eberting!

Math Department

Marie Dustin, MS/HS Math Teacher

This is Marie Dustin’s 8th year full-time teaching and 16th year working in the secondary schools in our area. She has taught everything from honors pre-calculus to 7th grade math, as well as some computer courses and even ran an after-school drones club! Marie started her post-secondary educational experience at Ricks College and finished up at BYU Provo, earning a degree in math and a teaching minor in computer science. While at Ricks, she was named the Woman of the Year for the College of Natural Sciences. Marie has lived on both the west and east coasts, a few places in between, and served a mission at the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center. Marie absolutely loves teaching and working with people. One of her strongest beliefs is that students can learn to excel at mathematics AND have fun while doing it! Some of her hobbies and interests include: interior decorating, scripture memorization, volleyball, home construction, quilting, live theater, travel, movies, music, Rubik’s cubes, Star Trek, doing things with her family, and building Lego sets (of which she owns many). Marie and her children all love to create intricate costumes and build things. This summer, she has enjoyed watching her two newly adopted cats settle into their home together. They are sweet and fun, and now they can learn some math!

Ty Smith, Math Teacher

Ty comes to American Heritage with 31 years’ experience teaching math in the Provo School District, 26 of those at Dixon Middle School, including 10 years coaching basketball at Provo and Mountain View High Schools. Ty received a bachelor’s degree at BYU with a math endorsement. He has been recognized as one of Provo School District’s most outstanding teachers on numerous occasions through the years. Ty’s mother was a dance teacher, so in addition to his love for teaching math, he also danced for over 40 years. He even worked one summer dancing in the Disneyland parades, and we look forward to him demonstrating some of those dance moves as he expounds upon quadratic equations and the Fibonacci sequence. Ty has enjoyed service in many capacities in the Latter-day Saint Church. He is married to Joani, and together they have six children and nine grandchildren, all of whom live close to the Smiths, and within a mile of each other (to Grandpa and Grandma Smith’s delight).

John Sowa, Math Teacher

John has lived on both coasts, loves to work with people and has a Masters in Chemical Engineering. He has worked teaching/tutoring math since his college years. Understanding how people learn has been a lifelong passion. He seeks to help people discover solutions, whether to a difficult problem or a difficult type of problem. As such, his desires for his math students are to help them love math even if it isn’t their favorite, help them learn how to learn math and to help them learn math in its context (particularly its historical, life and spiritual contexts).

Science Department

Ryan Anderson, Biology / Human Anatomy & Physiology

Ryan Anderson comes to American Heritage School having taught life sciences and served as an administrator for Tuacahn High School in St. George for the last eleven  years. Ryan is a native of Soda Springs, Idaho. He served a mission in Paris France, then married Lorna Lee Robbins, of Pocatello in 1986. After attending BYU, he graduated with honors from the Southern California University of Health Sciences in 1990 and …. completed a Master’s degree in Educational Technology in 2018. After taking a medical retirement from private chiropractic practice in Idaho, the family moved to St. George where they lived for 12 years. While in St. George, Ryan also performed leading roles for five seasons on the Tuacahn professional amphitheater stage. The family enjoys music and being together hiking and camping. Ryan is excited to join the American Heritage family of faculty and students. His wife Lorna Lee graduated with a degree in elementary education from BYU.

Levi Crockett, Chinese, AP Computer Science

Levi Crockett was raised in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ. He grew up participating in local music programs and piano competitions, mountain biking, woodworking, and enjoying time on his grandparent’s ranch in the Gila Valley. After serving a mission in Taiwan, Crockett married his wife, Erin, and graduated from BYU with a degree in music. Crockett and his wife have a two-year-old daughter and love living in Alpine. He frequently performs on piano and organ throughout Utah and Salt Lake counties and on Temple Square.

Alex DeBirk, Physics, AP Physics and Intro to Engineering

Alex DeBirk comes to American Heritage after a career in structural engineering. He has designed buildings as large as a skyscraper, as small as a concession stand, and even spent some time with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on future satellites and lunar rovers. He received an MS in civil engineering with a emphasis in structural engineering, mechanics and materials from the University of California at Berkeley, and a BS from Brigham Young University with a minor in Japanese. Alex discovered his passion for teaching in high school when he started operating the experiential learning simulators (two of which he designed) at Pleasant Grove’s Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, or CMSEC. He continued to teach as a Latter-day Saint missionary in Fukuoka, Japan, and as a physics instructor while in graduate school. He continues to volunteer as the STEM instructor at the CMSEC’s sister program at Renaissance Academy in Lehi, where his latest simulator design is set to open in the summer of 2016. He also has extensive experience in musical theater, having been accepted to BYU’s Music/Dance/Theater program, and performing at Tuacahn, Hale Center Theater, and numerous Latter-day Saint Church productions in Salt Lake City and Nauvoo. He loves the arts, the sciences, sports and the outdoors. His greatest joy, beside his wife and daughter, is knowing he has had a positive impact in another person.

Laurel Hill, Science K-2

Laurel has a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University in Public Relations.  After graduation, she worked for Melaleuca, Inc. in Idaho Falls in product development and marketing. Laurel has worked as a freelance writer for various magazines and newsletters. Laurel homeschooled her youngest starting in kindergarten, through the AHS Distance Education program.  The Hill Family loves American Heritage and knows how it changes lives, blesses families, teaches children how to think for themselves, and inspires students to love learning. She was a stay at home mom for 20 years.  For the past two years, she has worked as a substitute teacher in Jordan School District, substituting in elementary resource classes, and in schools for those with Autism. Laurel has been a substitute teacher for American Heritage for two years in K-12 grades.  Her family has been a part of American Heritage for 12 years.  Laurel was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She has lived in Utah for 22 years.  She and her husband Jay have 4 children who have all attended AHS, three of whom have graduated from AHS. Laurel’s youngest daughter will be in the 6th grade this upcoming school year.  Laurel loves to hike, read, play the piano, exercise, cook, and spend time with her family.

Steven Hoffer, Science Creativity Lab

Steve studied math and physics in college before serving twenty years in the United States Air Force. He still answers to “Sarge”, and will eagerly tell stories about the Pentagon, NORAD, space weather, the National Reconnaissance Office, and his other assignments. After his Air Force career, Steve spent time in corporate America as an instructional designer, writing computer, software and networking courses. Steve and his wife Carol love being with their family including their five children and twelve grandchildren.

Nikki Kelley, Science 6-8

Nikki is a fun and energetic teacher who loves to learn and encourage learning. She graduated from BYU with a Bachelors degree in Sports Medicine, Athletic Training. While at BYU, Nikki played basketball on a full-ride scholarship. After graduating from college, Nikki worked at the Waterford School for 10 years. She taught PE and Science. She also coached and administrated as the 9th and 10th grade Dean. Her hobbies include playing and spending time with her family, hiking, reading, cooking and spending time with friends. Nikki and her husband, Dave, have 5 children.  Nikki feels it a great honor and pleasure to teach Middle School Science at American Heritage. She takes great pleasure in helping students work hard, learn, and enjoy the wonderful creations of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Abby Taylor, Science 6-8

Abby is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. She attended Tyler Junior College and played volleyball there for two years then transferred to the University of Wyoming where she obtained her Biology degree and played volleyball for another two seasons. She recently finished additional school at Brigham Young University where she played on the women’s volleyball team for the fall of 2022. She is excited to be teaching middle school science and has a passion for all areas of science.

Andrew Winegar, Chemistry

Andrew comes to American Heritage having worked for five years as a paraprofessional in Salt Lake School District at Innovations Early College High School. Andrew studied chemistry with a geology minor at the University of Utah where he got his bachelor’s degree. He recently received his master’s degree in science teaching through Western Governors University. He loves learning and regularly seeks new things to learn through books, articles, videos, and documentaries. He and his wife and son reside in Saratoga Springs.

Eliza Diener, Science Teacher Aide 6-8

Eliza recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in General Studies, emphasis in Exercise Science. While at BYU, Eliza took extensive coursework in biology, chemistry, and anatomy and worked as a bio-organic chemistry TA. In addition to attending BYU, Eliza attended Midwives College of Utah for one year and apprenticed with a local Certified Professional Midwife where she assisted at-home births. Her time as a midwife’s apprentice exposed her to mental health challenges many of her maternal clientele faced. Because of this experience, Eliza will be pursuing graduate studies in Social Work this fall with the goal of working in maternal mental healthcare. When she is not studying, Eliza loves to play viola, volleyball, and Legend of Zelda. She also enjoys long road trips and hikes with her husband and poodle. As an AHS alumna, Eliza is excited to be returning as a faculty member.

Reading Department

Jill Atkinson, Reading Interventionist

From a young age, teaching young children has been one of Jill’s dreams. She attended Brigham Young University and received her Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education.  She taught Kindergarten for two years and then started her family.  She is a mother of five children.  When her first child was born, she told her husband that she wanted her children to attend American Heritage which was just getting started.  Her family ended up moving away to Idaho for 15 years and then returning.  She was really excited to come back and have her children attend American Heritage. Jill is very happy to get back into teaching at American Heritage which shares her same core values.  She loves being in an environment where the spirit is present and both teacher and student learn from each other. When Jill is not teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, and being a mother. Teaching at American Heritage helps her realize one of her greatest joys in life, helping children feel love as they grow and learn.

Jennifer Nielsen, Reading Interventionist

Jennifer grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, just outside of Seattle. She completed her degree in Elementary Education at Brigham Young University, but decided to stay at home with her newborn daughter instead of take a teaching position after graduation. When the youngest of her five children started 3rd grade, she decided she was ready for more than volunteer work at the school. She came back to education as a Para-Educator in a Life Skills class where she learned from the example of a master teacher that every child deserves a life of dignity and purpose. She practiced every day living the motto, “Never say I can’t.” Several years later, she was invited to apply at American Heritage School for a position as a Reading Interventionist. Reading is a subject that Jennifer is passionate about. She is certified in the University of Utah’s Next Steps and Higher Steps intervention models, Tier 1 Text comprehension routines, and Spalding Level 1. Jennifer finds real purpose in helping students develop their reading skills- skills she believes are critical for achieving our AHS Mission Statement of developing life-long learners.

Trish Peel, Reading Interventionist Dept. Chair

Trisha graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has been a teacher for the past twenty years in a variety of settings, including public, charter, and home school classrooms. Her emphasis is in reading and math instruction, and she has tutored many children in these specific areas as well. Trisha loves to learn, and is inspired by the truths, values, and academic excellence that are at the heart of American Heritage School. She feels she has been prepared and directed to this remarkable school, and is excited for the opportunity to assist students. She has a great love for children and a strong desire to be a positive influence for good in their lives.

Teacher Aides

Holly Dunn, Kindergarten & High School Teacher Aide

Holly Dunn, Kindergarten Aide, joined the American Heritage staff in 2016. As a parent of two AHS scholars, she loves the mission and vision of American Heritage School, and enjoys helping students reach their full potential. She and her wonderful husband, Mike, have 6 amazing children, one son-in-law and one daughter-in-law (hopefully, more to come!) and two beautiful grandchildren (again, hopefully, more to come)! They lived in Ithaca, New York for 11 years, and Reading, England for 3 years, before returning to Utah in 2003, for Mike to take a teaching position at BYU. Holly enjoys flower gardening, temple work, serving in various church callings, Sunday family dinners, and date nights!

Jill Fichialos, HS Teacher Aide

Jill Fichialos has always loved working with students and teachers. After graduating from the University of Utah with a BS in Sociology, she spent the next 10 years working as a college academic advisor and administrator at the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College, Utah Valley University, University of Michigan and University of North Texas. After 16 years of focusing on “home work”, Jill is excited to be transitioning her hobby of volunteering at American Heritage into “school work”. Jill and her husband Jay are blessed with two amazing daughters and two silly greyhounds. In addition to spending time with her family, Jill enjoys serving in her church callings, watching British television, training her dogs, watching her girls play the harp, going out to dinner, and researching her latest interest on the internet. Helping the students and faculty at American Heritage has always brought her great joy and she is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of its special mission.

Anese Harmon, K–3 Music Class Assistant/Accompanist

Anese is thrilled to join the American Heritage team and share her love of music with the students here. She was born in Idaho and raised on a family farm east of Idaho Falls, where she developed a love for music, nature, and work. She is a graduate of Ricks College and BYU and served as a full-time missionary in the New York, Rochester mission. While living in Delaware for 19 years, she has taught private piano lessons as a stay-at-home mother. She has rendered volunteer musical instruction while serving in Latter-day Saint Church callings, such as Choir Director, Primary Music Director, Primary Pianist, Ward Organist, and Ward Choir Pianist. She enjoys playing the harp and dulcimer as well as piano and organ with additional hobbies in gardening, cooking, canning, and sewing. She and her husband Neil are the parents of four sons and one daughter.

Dr. Neil Harmon, Youth Chorus Accompanist/Organist

Neil Harmon is a member of the organ faculty at Brigham Young University. An organist, conductor, composer, and teacher, he served 19 years as Director of Music and Organist at Grace United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Neil holds a Bachelor of Music degree from BYU and Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from The Eastman School of Music. Dr. Harmon’s widely published compositions include a seven-movement Requiem for choir, orchestra, and soprano,
as well as music for solo organ, handbell choir, mixed chorus, and brass quintet. Active in the American Guild of Organists, he served twice as Co-Director of the Delaware Pipe Organ Encounter. Neil and his wife, Anese, are the parents of five children.

Michelle Jorgensen, Music (AHYC)

Michelle Jorgensen has loved, performed and taught music from an early age. She studied piano and voice through graduate school, and taught lessons to help support her family while attending dental school.  She has four children, and they have all attended American Heritage. The family has been patrons of the school since 2005 and loves the school and music programs.

Carolyn Lundberg, Orchestra

Carolyn Lundberg was born and raised in California as the oldest of 8 children who were all trained to perform different musical instruments. She came to Utah on academic and music scholarships to attend Brigham Young University where she completed her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy as a student of Irene Peery-Fox. Carolyn currently plays the harp and cello with local orchestras and has taught many years privately as well as in public school music programs. She conducted and arranged music for a Latter-day Saint youth orchestra that celebrated the church’s Utah pioneer sesquicentennial anniversary in 2002. She loves teaching music to her 5 children she is raising with her husband Dean as well as the young beginners of Lyceum’s Junior Strings.

Karen Matsen, Science Aide/1st Grade Teacher Aide

Karen Matsen is honored to be a part of American Heritage as an aide in an elementary classroom. She was raised in Mesa, AZ and attended Arizona State University. With a bachelors degree in Exercise Science/Kinesiology, she went on to work in Physical/Sports Therapy. She also has experience in Massage Therapy, Event Planning, and Outreach Programs for children. She recently moved from Southern California to American Fork, Utah with her husband and two boys. She enjoys health and wellness, creative writing, travel, hiking, and watching her sons play sports. Her greatest passion is mentoring children and teens through their academic and spiritual journey.  She believes nothing is more fulfilling than helping another gain confidence in themselves and our Savior, flourish spiritually and become deeply rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Barbara McOmber, Ballroom

Barbara McOmber joined American Heritage School in 2012 as the Ballroom Dance Instructor. Barbara is a Brigham Young University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Home and Family Living Studies. While attending BYU, she was on the Ballroom Tour team, where she was able to spread her love of dance and the gospel while touring the South Pacific, including Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii. She and her dance partner competed in the National Dancesport competitions for years. It was at BYU where Barbara met her husband Arthur. She said, “He swept me off my feet!” After leaving Utah, they lived in Southern California where Art worked for the FBI and they raised four wonderful children. In 2005, they moved to Cedar Hills, Utah where Barbara began teaching Elementary Ballroom at several local schools. Barbara has choreographed, costumed, and produced annual ballroom concerts since 2005. Her competition teams have reached the gold level multiple times. After having two of her children attend American Heritage, she is thrilled to be a part of the American Heritage faculty and teach such outstanding students.

Aprel Mendenhall, Insructional Designer

Aprel Mendenhall comes to American Heritage as a skilled Instructional Designer. She has over 10 years of experience in curriculum design and development. Aprel earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Utah State University. During her teaching career, she enjoyed interacting with thousands of children and adults at Utah Valley University and in Cache County and Nebo School Districts. In 2018, Aprel returned to Utah State University to pursue a Master of Education in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences. She was recognized as a 2019 AECT Design & Development Competition Finalist and Best Presentation winner for her design of a microlearning mobile application for NATO. She has immensely enjoyed the online program and will graduate in December 2020. Aprel and her husband, Cory, are the parents of four children. They enjoy traveling and making music together.

Shane Mickelsen, Orchestra Conductor

Shane Mickelsen is an active composer, arranger, conductor, and teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Utah State University and a Master’s of Music degree in Music Composition from the University of Utah where he also pursued doctoral studies in Music Composition. He is an accomplished clarinetist and recording musician who has recently written for and recorded with The Piano Guys, Paul Cardall, and the Latter-day Saint Church. Shane regularly conducts recording sessions and recently served as the Music Director of the West Jordan Symphony. At the age of 17, he was commissioned by the School of Music at Utah State University to compose an opera for its Opera Theatre Program which he composed, rehearsed, and directed. The work was recognized with an award from the university and Craig Jessop. As an educator, Shane directed choir, orchestra, and band at American Heritage of South Jordan where he also taught Latin. He currently maintains a private studio  of voice, piano, clarinet, and composition students in his home in Riverton with his wife Kacee and daughter Annie.

Johanne Perry, Drama/5th Grade Teacher Aide

Johanne Fréchette Perry was born in Montréal, Canada and grew up in the Los Angeles area where she joined the Latter-day Saint church. She has traveled the world with the BYU Young Ambassadors and graduated with a BFA in Music Dance Theatre. For over 20 years she has been a studio singer and has been featured as a soloist on many Latter-day Saint recordings. She has delighted audiences across the U.S. and on PBS with her portrayal of early Utah settler Polly Matilda Merrill Colton in the show, Polly: A One-Woman Musical, written by her husband, Steven Kapp Perry. Currently Johanne sings with the award-winning vocal group One Clear Voice. In the fall, she and her husband host a Church History tour through Morris/Murdock Travel. Johanne teaches the high school drama classes and seventh grade speech class at AHS, as well as assists in the Patriotic Program and the eighth grade Shakespeare play. When not at the school she keeps busy with her four children, organic vegetable garden, and french-canadian genealogy.

Graham Rasmussen, Girls MS Soccer Coach

Graham Rasmussen lives in live in Pleasant Grove Utah with his wife and two sons. He has loved soccer since living in Germany as a kid and has played his entire life. He’s excited to be the Girls Middle School Soccer Head Coach and is looking forward to a great season.

Amanda Riley, Orchestra

As long time supporters of the Lyceum Orchestra program at American Heritage School, Amanda Riley and her family traveled from Beaver to American Fork each week to have their children participate. After many years of traveling, Amanda is excited to have moved to Highland and to be conducting the Chamber Ensemble. Amanda was formerly the Orchestra and Choir Director at Beaver High School and a general music educator at Belknap Elementary School in Beaver. She is also a graduate of Brigham Young University. Amanda followed her love for music as she started each of her young children playing the violin starting at age three and studied beside each of them. She was the recipient of the UTASTA Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2015. Her love for music, her family and youth has driven her to have a successful program where students feel safe, encouraged and allowed to follow their dreams. Amanda has a passion for touching student’s lives and inspiring them to achieve excellence.

Tai Russell, Math Aid (AP Calculus)

Tai Russell has worked with many students in his high school whether that be on a team or in small group projects. He loves to help people learn and grow in academia, and inspire people to work hard in life. He is currently a sophomore at Brigham Young University pursuing a major in Accounting and a minor in Mathematics and hopefully go to law school for his graduate studies. He is grateful for his education and encourages anyone to go as far as they can with their education. Tai is from Logan, Utah; during his leisure time, he loves the outdoor activities such as camping and mountain biking. Everyday is a learning day for him and he loves to challenge himself, especially when it comes to academia. Family is very important him, and he loves to treat everyone as his friend.

Matt Thornton, Concert Choir Assistant Director

Matt Thornton graduated from Utah State University with a bachelors degree in music education. He also holds a masters degree in music education from BYU. As an undergraduate, Matt served as the Music Vice President of the Logan Latter-day Saint Institute as well as the Dance President. He was also president of the New Horizons Institute Choir. While in Cache Valley, he worked with the Cache Children’s Choir and taught in their summer music camp. He has also worked as a music and dance specialist for Opera by Children. Matt has been trained in Orff, is Kodály certified and is currently an instructor at the BYU InterMuse Academy. He is the fine arts department head at American Fork Jr. High where he has taught choir for eight years.

Kristi Wulfenstein, 2nd Grade Teacher Aide

Kristi Wulfenstein has enjoyed being part of the American Heritage School community for 20 plus years. She has served as a parent, volunteer, and custodian. For the past 10 years, Mrs. Wulfenstein has been blessed to be employed as a Teacher Aide in grades K-2. She attended UVU and worked for the Alpine School District as an ESL tutor during that time. Kristi worked as a substitute teacher for the Alpine School District and completed 3 years of Special Ed Training at Dan Peterson School. In her spare time Kristi keeps busy with her love of music. She enjoys playing the piano, organ, and violin. She has spent many years playing the violin with different symphonies. She currently plays with the American Fork Symphony. Kristi is a member of the Creative Arts Team for the Timpanogos Arts Foundation of American Fork City and serves as the Program Manager/President of the American Fork Symphony.