Kindergarten/Special Education Teacher
Kindergarten/Special Education Teacher
I am beyond thrilled to be joining the Ascent Academy team! I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders from Brigham Young University in 2013. I am currently enrolled in the Weber State University PRIME program in order to obtain my teaching license and will finish this December. I found my passion for teaching and working with children 4 years ago when I began working at a school for children with autism. While working there I was able to gain experience as a paraeducator, speech-language technician, and special education teacher. Working with children with autism taught me that we all learn in different ways, we are all capable of great things, and learning should be and can be a lot of fun. I believe that teaching is about instilling in students a desire to learn and to follow their passions. As a teacher, I want each one of my students to know how special, capable, and brilliant they are. Through my experience, I’ve learned that sometimes the most important thing I can do as a teacher is listen.
I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado and moved to Utah to attend BYU. I met my wonderful husband after graduating and we were married in August 2014. My husband and I love to spend time outside hiking, camping, biking, and taking pictures. In my free time I also enjoy cooking, watching movies, running, and playing tennis.
I received my Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Northwest Nazarene College, with an emphasis in both Early Childhood and Learning Exceptionalities. I also received my Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Weber State University. I have my educator certification, holding a Level 2 license from the State of Utah, and was a mentor teacher for several years at Good Foundations Academy in Riverdale, Utah. This year marks the beginning of my 18th year of teaching. Prior to teaching at Ascent Academies of Utah, I taught 2nd grade at Good Foundations Academy. Before that, I taught 2nd and 4th grade for 12 years at Christian Heritage School. After college, I had taught for one year in a reading intervention program in Nampa, Idaho.
I’m so excited to be starting my second year teaching Kindergarten here at Ascent Academies! I love the curriculum here at AAU, and I love the idea of differentiating the curriculum to meet the needs of all of our students. I love working with children and enjoy seeing their excitement, when the “light goes on.” I feel great joy in making a difference in the lives of all of my students.
When not teaching, I enjoy baking, decorating, reading, and especially spending time with my family.
1st Grade Teachers
First Grade Teacher
First Grade Teacher
Hello! I am Ericka Gilliland AKA Mrs. G. I have been with Ascent Academy West Jordan for the past three years. I worked two years as a first grade teacher assistant and also worked one year as a substitute teacher for the elementary grades. I am SO delighted to be coming back as a full time teacher in first grade! I am so thankful for this opportunity to teach first graders....they are my favorite!
A little about my background...I wasn't sure what I wanted to study in college until I volunteered in a local classroom and I instantly fell in love with teaching. In 2016 graduated from Salt Lake Community College with my associate's degree in Elementary Education. I recently just graduated from the University of Utah with my bachelor's degree in Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education (Pre-school through 2nd grade).
I consider one of my gifts and talents helping students learn to read. I love reading and I love helping beginning readers. I completed a 30 hour practicum with the University of Utah Reading Clinic. It changed my life and my outlook on what reading is, predictors to make a student a good reader and how to teach reading to young learners effectively. I am so grateful for that experience.
I grew up in West Jordan but I moved to San Luis Obispo, California in 2011. I loved living there, but I moved back to Utah four years ago and I currently live in Herriman with my amazing husband, Daniel. We have been married for five years. We love cooking together and trying new food/restaurants! We consider ourselves "foodies." We also love to travel and explore new places together.
I am very much looking forward to my first official year of teaching. I am right out of college and I believe I have a lot of fresh ideas on the latest practices and procedures for how to teach children. I want my classroom to be a safe, fun, positive and engaging environment. I believe strongly in a "hands-on" education and multi-sensory involved lessons. I want to show my students that learning can be super fun! I am very excited to meet all my new firsties and I look forward to getting to know their families. Here's to a great year in first grade!!
I was born and raised in the Salt Lake Valley and enjoy living in Utah. I love teaching, reading and traveling – these things help me grow and learn about different cultures and people.
I graduated from Brigham Young University. I have been working with young children for many years in teaching preschool and Kindergarten. I love working at Ascent, and I am delighted to continue working as a first grade teacher! I am excited to help students learn and become the very best they can.
I am so excited to begin another awesome year as part of the first grade Ascent Academy team. I graduated from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Primary and Elementary Education. I am also half-way to earning my Masters in Education from Western Michigan University, I am just taking a break to spend more time with my 3 year old son. I have 15 years of experience in the education field, including teaching kindergarten, preschool and being a substitute teacher. I love children and have a passion for making learning come to life! On a personal note, I love to spend time outdoors, roller blade, play softball, sing, participate in local theatre and I absolutely LOVE to travel. I have been to Scotland, Mexico and nearly all 50 states. I was born and raised in Michigan and miss my family dearly, but look forward to continuing to raise my son here in Utah and make wonderful lifelong friendships.
2nd Grade Teachers
Mrs. Barnes is ecstatic to begin her 8th year of teaching at Ascent Academy-West Jordan! She is coming from Ascent Academy-Farmington, where she taught 2nd grade Language Arts and Social Studies. Prior to her teaching at Ascent, she taught at Quest Academy in West Haven and Hawthorn Academy. She has experience in 2nd, 3rd and Special Education.
Brittany graduated from the University of Montana-Western in 2008 with her Elementary Education and Literacy degree and moved to Utah that summer to pursue her teaching career. She was born and raised in a small, country town in northwestern Montana. She has a very loving and caring family that supports her from there.
Mrs. Barnes recently married her loving husband Jeremy in July 2014. Together they enjoy traveling, playing with their bulldog Willard, going to the movies, Real Soccer and Utes Football games. Mrs. Barnes loves to cook, bake and hang out with friends and family.
I graduated from Brigham Young University—Idaho and received my Early Childhood - Special Education Degree in December of 2009. After graduating I moved to Utah to start my teaching career. After teaching five years in special education, kindergarten, and second grade I still value the joy that comes from learning. This is my second year with Ascent. I love the curriculum here at AAU, and the idea of giving each student an opportunity to find and develop his or her own unique set of skills and talents.
I firmly believe that all children can be successful learners. I try to encourage their thoughts and interests in everything that I do, in order to help them understand how the world is related to their lives. Each student has their own spark and their own switch for curiosity. If I can ignite that spark just once during the course of the day, then I feel like I have planted a seed for future learning.
When I am not teaching, I highly enjoy spending time with my family. I have two beautiful children and a loving, supportive husband. I also love learning about new things: the arts, the ocean, hiking, and traveling.
2nd Grade Teacher
2nd Grade Teacher
I am thrilled to be the newest 2nd grade teacher at Ascent Academy West Jordan! I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Communication Disorders, and after staying home with my own kiddos while they were small, worked to receive my teaching certificate this past year. For the past three years I have worked at Ascent as a paraprofessional, substitute teacher, and long-term sub. The last two of those three years I’ve been in second grade, which I have LOVED!
I was born and raised in Utah and reside in West Jordan. My husband and I have four kids (2 girls and 2 boys), a Shih Tzu named Harley, and a cat named Pumpkin. Our kids range in age from eight to sixteen, with our two youngest attending Ascent. A few things I love to spend time doing with family and friends are traveling, playing games, going to movies and being outdoors, especially in the mountains hiking and camping.
I enjoy being creative and seeking out ways to make learning fun and engaging for students. I am looking forward to a fantastic first year with my class!
3rd Grade Teachers
I am thrilled to join the staff at Ascent Academy. I grew up in Utah and Missouri. I received my Bachelors in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Music from Utah State University in 1999. After teaching for ten years, I went back to school and received my Masters in Education from Southern Utah University in 2012. I also have an ESL Endorsement and a Math Endorsement. I have taught for sixteen years in grades first, second, third, and fourth. I taught in Las Vegas, Nevada for my first three years and the rest have been in Utah.
My husband and I have three young children. Two of my children will attend Ascent Academy. As a family we love to read, play games, watch movies, listen to music, go camping, travel, or just go for a ride and be outside. When I have a little spare time, I enjoy cooking, playing the piano, doing crafts, and scrapbooking.
I am so excited about implementing the School Enrichment Model and the curriculum at Ascent Academy. I believe teachers need to differentiate their instruction to meet the students’ needs, interests, abilities, and learning styles. When this differentiation of instruction happens, the students are more actively engaged in their learning. I love seeing the growth and progress that students make over a school year. I hope to establish a safe, respectful, and responsible classroom community where my students feel comfortable to share their ideas and to teach others including me. I hope to instill a love of learning in my students so they become life long learners. I look forward to getting to know the students, parents, and faculty more and having a great year!
I am thrilled to be teaching at Ascent Academy in West Jordan this year. For the past two years, I have taught in Provo, Utah. I have taught both 5th and 3rd grade, and am looking forward to teaching 3rd grade here at Ascent Academy. In my classroom, I foster both a loving and safe environment, as well as an environment that provides opportunities for challenges and growth.
Both of my parents were in the Navy, and I had the privilege of living in many different states growing up. By the time I was in 3rd grade, I had lived in five states. After my 3rd grade year, our family moved to a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest called Anacortes, Washington. Here, my parents retired, and I was given the opportunity to finally call a place home.
I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in TELL (Teaching English Language Learners), from Brigham Young University. It was through many college and classroom experiences that I developed a passion for teaching and inspiring others to be a continuous learner.
My parents still live in Anacortes, Washington. I have an older brother who is attending Utah Valley University in Orem, and a younger sister who is finishing her degree at Brigham Young University. My older sister is currently a nurse in Hawaii. Although we are semi-spread out across the country, we remain a very close family. One of my favorite things to do is write and receive letters and/or packages with family and friends. I also love to spend my time outdoors, hiking, camping, and running.
It is my personal and professional belief that all students can learn and can become a lifelong learner. This occurs, first and foremost, when students know that they are trusted and encouraged to do and be their best. Each day that students walk into my classroom, they will know that they are loved and can do hard things. Throughout the school year, we will continue to reach creative potentials, and learn the necessary skills to become a lifelong learner. I am very excited to teach and learn with the children in my classroom this year. I am also looking forward to getting to know each child and their family as we embark on a successful new school year.
I am excited to be starting my second year at Ascent Academy in West Jordan. We had a fabulous opening year, and I am looking forward to helping a new group of third graders learn and grow in this great school. I had such a wonderful experience last year working with my students to create a fun, safe, and challenging environment, and I plan to build and improve on what we established with this year’s class.
I am a proud Utah native, and a resident of West Jordan. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications/Journalism from Brigham Young University, and my Master of Art’s in Elementary Education from Western Governors University. I have taught fifth and sixth grade in Jordan School District, and I am delighted to be teaching third grade for Ascent Academy.
My husband and I have three children—and one very energetic dog. As a family we love to watch movies, walk, bike, and camp. My favorite personal hobbies are jigsaw puzzles and reading. I read voraciously, and I strive to instill a love of reading (and words) in my students, because I believe that reading is our door to a life filled with knowledge, tolerance, wisdom, and fun.
As a teacher my mantra is that every student can and should progress. Each student in my classroom is valued and encouraged to use his or her talents to grow as an individual and to contribute to the class as a whole. Throughout the year everyone in my classroom—including me!--will grow in all areas of education: knowledge, social skills, and character. As each student makes progress, the class will celebrate successes together. I look forward to getting to know each child and working with each family in this coming school year.
4th Grade Teachers
Celina Cerny was born and raised in California, but has lived in Utah for the last 5 years. Her passion for education started at a very young age, and she feels like she has a string of teachers and educators to thank. She was blessed by a handful of teachers who believed in her and showed her that she could do anything she set her mind to. She received her Bachelor’s in Sociology with a Minor in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also obtained her Master’s Degree from the same school, in Elementary Education. This will be her 5th year teaching 4th grade, and her second year with the Ascent Team!
One of the many reasons why Celina joined the Ascent Team was because she strongly believes in the Networks Mission and felt drawn to the ideas behind the School Wide Enrichment Model (SEM). She believes that education should focus on the individual child, as well as the classroom community as a whole. Every student comes from different learning experiences, has different learning styles, and comes from a different social and economic culture. As an educator, she believes that progress is made when students are able to have the opportunity to learn in smaller groups, focusing on their learning styles and interests in a way that can be highlighted and challenged. She also believes that students should be given more of a direct role in their education and learning; SEM allows students to do so. One of the many ways Celina tries to teach to the individual child is by teaching Guided Math, in a small group setting. She has a love for teaching math, and being a part of those “lightbulb” moments with her students.
In her free time, you can find Celina reading a good book, soaking up some sun, binge watching a series or two, hanging out with friends and family, and enjoying a good laugh!
Fourth Grade Teacher
Fourth Grade Teacher
Hello! My name is Emily Cox and I am super excited to be a teacher at Ascent Academy next year! This will be my first year teaching and I will be teaching fourth grade. A little bit about me...I graduated from West Jordan High, and married my high school sweetheart Tyler. I love to sing, dance and musical theater, and am currently rehearsing to perform with Taylorsville Arts Council in the production of, “Anything Goes”. I love to write children’s books and hope to be a published author someday. I love Volkswagon Beetles! I drive a newer bug now that my husband designed to look like Herbie the Love Bug, and also have a turtle named Herbie that I adore. I am excited to meet you all and to learn from you!
My name is Richelle Smith and I am so excited to be teaching fifth grade this year at Ascent Academies in West Jordan. I grew up on a farm and in a small town in central Utah. I moved to northern Utah shortly after graduating from high school and have been here ever since. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix. Yes, I am a Phoenix!
When I am not teaching, I enjoy camping, fishing, horseback riding, and flower arrangement (before becoming a teacher, I was a florist). I also love Drama and Theater. I was in Drama classes in high school and I have been the director of many school plays over the past six years. I love to sing, and I am an avid reader! Some of my favorite books are Little Women, the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, The Hunger Games trilogy, The House of Dark Shadows series, and anything by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I also love to spend time with my family. I am married to an amazing man and we have four remarkable sons, an absolutely astonishing daughter, one vivacious grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. We also have a dog, a cat, a Russian tortoise, a Fire Belly toad, and two fish. There is never a dull moment in the Smith household.
I have always loved to learn and I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. My teachers were such an inspiration in my life and I hope to be the same to my students. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with children each and every day. I am constantly learning and growing along with them and I look forward with much anticipation to the upcoming school year and the thrilling journey ahead!
5th Grade Teachers
5th Grade Teacher
5th Grade Teacher
Hi, I am Erika Brotherton. I am super excited to be teaching 5th grade at Ascent Academy this year. This is my first year teaching 5th grade. I previously taught 3rd grade at another charter school in Utah County and I am excited to move into this new opportunity. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Utah in 2012, making the Dean’s List. I am currently working toward a Master’s Degree at the U in Teaching Leadership. I am so excited to be a part of Ascent and their educational philosophy!
I am a huge University of Utah fan. (A Utah Man am I! Ki-Yi!!) I love going to all of the football, basketball, and gymnastics events at the U. My husband and I never miss going to a game together. I also play the cello. I have played since I was in 5th grade. I play with Taylorsville Symphony. I love animals, Disney and history. I am also a history buff, which is why I am so excited to teach 5th grade. I cannot wait to share my love of history with my students this year.
I am originally from Salt Lake City, born and raised, but I love to travel with my family. We have gone all over the world together. I have been to Italy, England, Ireland, Taiwan, and Brazil. I love coxhinas. It's a Brazilian food. My favorite experience traveling was seeing all of the history and culture in Rome and at Vatican City. Something interesting about me is that I have dual citizenship. If you want to know what other country I am a citizen of, come and ask me!
I can’t wait to meet and get to know everyone at Ascent this year. I know that we are going to have a great time learning together! If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to come and talk to me. My door is always open to my students and their parents. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and together we can educate tomorrow’s leaders.
I have been teaching for twelve years. I am so eager to teach fifth grade at Ascent! I taught for four years in Arizona, grades 3, 5, 6, and 7/8 science before I moved back home to Utah, where I taught fourth grade for the past eight years. Ascent is the third charter school I have had the opportunity to be with from the beginning and I can't wait to see what this new school year will bring!
I love watching baseball (Go Rockies!), basketball - I'm a Jazz fan; and football (Go Giants!) with my family - my husband and our 11-year-old son. We also enjoy camping, playing with our two dogs and two cats, watching movies and playing tennis. I enjoy crocheting, photography, crafts, reading, gardening, s'mores, fry sauce, and sports. My favorite color is yellow and I love seeing people smile.
6th Grade Teachers
I am very excited to begin my teaching career at Ascent Academies. I am looking forward to being part of the 6th grade team and sharing my knowledge and experiences to the classroom. Before beginning here, I was an officer in the US Army and had the opportunity to do airborne training, serve in Germany, and deploy to Afghanistan for nine months. Being an officer has taught me much about leadership, serving others, and the importance of training. In addition, I have been a substitute teacher and have gleaned many ideas and strategies from various teachers to enable me to bring as much insight into my career as possible.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to marry a beautiful woman from Peru and we are looking forward to having a family of our own as we settle together in Utah. In addition to spending time with my wife, I also enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee, hiking, and traveling. Traveling has been my most rewarding and varied hobby I have had thus far. I am originally from Texas and have also lived in Spain, Idaho, Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, Georgia, Germany, and Afghanistan. Overall, I have visited half of the United States, twenty-five countries, and six continents. There are still many states and countries that I want to see (and possibly Antarctica), and now I am pleased to have my wife as my travel partner to share in all my experiences.
I am really excited for the upcoming school year and to be a part of Ascent Academies. This will be my tenth year teaching. I have taught grades 6th, 5th, and 2nd and did my student teaching in 3rd. I have loved every year, each being a new adventure with exciting rewards. Prior to teaching, I worked as a paralegal in California for ten years. I decided to move to Utah where my family resides. I obtained a job in the Davis County School District and taught ESL for four years. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University and a Master of Arts Degree in Education.
I am single. I have one daughter, who is also a graduate from Brigham Young University and who is now working as an assistant to the CEO of Capita Finance. My passions are reading, tennis, kayaking, and family.
My name is Matthew Otterstrom and I am really excited to be joining Ascent this year. I was born in CA & have spent most my childhood in the Sandy, Utah area. I attended the University of Utah to expand my love for music. I also played with the U of U Marching Band & became the original bowling ball (that story you just will have to ask about). I play the Tuba as my main instrument. I also play most of the brass instruments and the flute, the clarinet, and a little alto saxophone. I later transferred to the University of Phoenix to finish my degree in Elementary Education. This will be my fifth year as a teacher. I have taught 4th & 5th grades and music in the past. I am excited to teach 6th grade this year. I have been married for 10 years this year to the love of my life, who’s name is Heidi. Our children are furry, four-legged animals, two dogs (Alex & Andy), two flemish giant rabbits (Ms Lady Hopkins & Sir Rascal Hopsalot) whom are as large as a small dog weighing in at 25 lbs(Rascal) to 35 lbs(Lady). We also have Princess Fluffy who is a miniature Lions Mane rabbit, whom you can hold in one hand. I have only one sister. I do have three nephews that my wife and I love to spoil every chance we get. We love going to visit them in Huntsville, Utah. I can be seen riding bikes to the beach, fishing, hiking trails, and building & making project me & my sister can think up for the boys to play & use their imaginations. In one case, I helped to build an entire castle for my nephew Jonas. The Castle later was turned into a mining town complete with a saloon and jailhouse. Then later added the dragons tunnel & a home where the hobbit lives. I enjoy teaching & helping kids to know life is full of adventures & dreams are meant to be made.
My name is Cara Savage. I have been teaching for 16 years now and still love it! I am a Southern California native beach bum at heart who can still hear and smell the ocean breezes, even after being away for 6 years. I began my teaching career in the same school district I grew up in. I wanted to give back and make it better. In the end of my time there, I was in great company for being recognized as a nationally amazing teacher twice. That is in the past now. It is nice to be noticed for good work but even better to continue doing better work annually. I am a very proud mom of 2 boys and many children who just call me mom. My husband and I are just two crazy love birds who finish each other's sentences. As a sports nut, I bring sports and cultural enhancements into lessons daily. My main focus is the kid's needs and using examples from what they relate to in order to explain concepts. I LOVE teaching Junior High! I taught this age group in California and loved it. Now I am hooked! Last year I had the pleasure of teaching 6th grade here at Ascent Academy-West Jordan. I am SO lucky to get my kids back, not to mention all the 6th graders, from last school year. My main daily goal is that students and I can say we have learned something new. I expect that my students are prepared to learn daily, just as I am prepared to teach and learn daily. Respect is required in my classroom ALWAYS. Excuses are not. There will be homework daily. Homework is simply unfinished work from class. I have an open door policy. Please come visit. I love talking with parents and students alike. If you have a concern, speak up. I really do actively listen and do my best to solve problems. I am patient but firm. Look forward to working with you this year.
Cara Savage, MA.Ed.
Parents of registered and attending students have the right to request information regarding the professional qualifications of their student’s classroom teacher(s). Ascent Academy will provide, upon request, information regarding state qualification and licensing criteria, licensing status, degree and certification held, and other relevant qualifications and in a timely manner. Please contact Sara Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.