Jr. High Teachers

Carlos Zuniga

Spanish Teacher

Carlos Zuniga

Carlos Zuniga

Spanish Teacher

Hola! I am very happy to be teaching Spanish at Ascent Academy, West Jordan! I grew up in Costa Rica and that’s where my love of teaching began. I had the opportunity to teach high school level students in Costa Rica English from 1995-1997. Upon moving to the United States and becoming a citizen here, I decided to pursue a degree in education and I graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Masters in Teaching, Secondary Level Spanish and a minor in Biology in 2010.

I originally lived in Oregon, where I met my wife and we got married in 2005. Shortly after, I was transferred by my company to Salt Lake City and we have lived here ever since. My wife and I have two beautiful daughters and my most favorite moments are times spent with my three girls. We enjoy going to movies, taking bike rides, days spent at Lagoon, playing video games, camping and walking the dog.

Email:  czuniga@ascentutah.org
Website:  https://blogs.ascentutah.org/czuniga

James Hu

Math Teacher

James Hu

James Hu

Math Teacher

I earned my first Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2008. I worked in the industry for two to three years until and found my career unenjoyable so I left and did some soul searching. During that time, I worked in a warehouse, but remembered how much I enjoyed learning and teaching others during my tenure as a university student. After reviewing my resources, I decide to re-enroll in college for my second bachelors degree in math pedagogy and earned my second bachelors degree in May of 2017.

I believe deeply in scholarly work and academic writing which exhibits quantifiable evidence, but do not discount the value of background knowledge and applied human experience. I have witnessed the power of cooperation and the extent to which accomplishments have been made with it and wish to instill a sense of respect for that in my students, but also want to emphasize that cooperation only works if every individual part contributes significant effort.

In my free time, I enjoy browsing at computer parts and, when financially feasible, building computers. I also enjoy reading books (non-fiction) and scholarly peer-reviewed articles on subjects such as math and teaching. My favorite sport is basketball, but I am not a fan of any particular team.

Email:  jhu@ascentutah.org
Website:  https://blogs.ascentutah.org/jameshu

Tom Rogers

Math Teacher

Tom Rogers

Tom Rogers

Math Teacher

Email:  trogers@ascentutah.org
Website:  blogs.ascentutah.org/trogers

Jay Ransom

Geography Teacher

Jay Ransom

Jay Ransom

Geography Teacher

I am super excited to be a part of the amazing junior high team at Ascent Academy West Jordan.  I am passionate about history and its influence on the world we live in today and the world our children will inherit tomorrow.
In 2015 I earned my B.A. in Social Science education, secondary emphasis, from Western Governors University. I have a Social Studies composite endorsement from the Utah State Office of Education.
My experience supporting and facilitating youth personal development is rich and diverse. I have spent years as a Boy Scout leader and I also spent a year as a 4H after school program coordinator at American Fork Junior High. These experiences reinforced my belief in the value of individuality and that the single most important responsibility I have as an educator is to support the development of each student’s interpersonal skills and nurture their unique talents. Today’s students do not respond as well to traditional teaching philosophies. As an educator I don’t want to stifle imagination and abstract thinking I want to stimulate them. I will strive to aid students in the building of a positive self-image that will be the foundation of their educational experiences. A positive self-image and confidence in their abilities will strengthen their metacognitive skills, giving them the tools to accomplish scholastic goals.
My wife Julie were both born and raised in Seattle, Washington. We have lived in Lehi for 9 years. We have 5 children ranging in age from 4 months to 13 years, so we enjoy most hobbies together as a family. We love the outdoors, which is a big part of why we love Utah. We like to hike, bike, visit lakes and reservoirs, garden, and play all kinds of sports. In our family we have gymnasts and soccer, baseball, football, and lacrosse players (we also have some semi-professional monkey bars climbers).

Email:  jransom@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/jransom

Megan Burr

PE/Health/Athletic Director

Megan Burr

Megan Burr

PE/Health/Athletic Director

Having grown up in Las Vegas I loved the outdoors, no matter what the temperature. I played competitive soccer as soon as I was old enough and played until college. In high school I played soccer, track and field, cross country, and even played on the football team my senior year as the kicker. I competed for Utah Valley University on the Track and Field team, running the 100 and 400 meter hurdles, 100 and 200 meter sprints as well as the 4x100 meter relay. 

Competing on various sports teams and having amazing Health teachers throughout my life  has driven me to my passion of teaching.  I love being a part of a team. Part of my teaching philosophy is teaching students to be hard workers and giving them the tools to succeed in life. Learning to accept differences and work well with others in a team aspect is a big part of succeeding in life. 

In my free time I love spending time with my family.  I love shopping, but who doesn't. I also love to do Crossfit, Bikrim Yoga , make things/craft, and cook. Track has been and will always truly be my passion. So anytime I can get on the track, whether it be to do a workout, help coach, watch a meet, or my old team practice, I'm there. 

Email:  mburr@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/mburr

Joanna McLean

Biology/PE/Health

Joanna McLean

Joanna McLean

Biology/PE/Health

Having grown up in Rhode Island, I spent much time running along the coast line, playing in the waves and collecting rocks, shells and specimens washed up on the beach. This sparked my interest in Biology and led me to obtain a Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University- Idaho.
Teaching allows me to be creative. I find joy in pooling resources from the internet, colleagues, conferences, and science journals to create a lesson plan that is engaging and enjoyable for my myself and my students.
I am always up for an opportunity to be active. Whether it be an individual or team sport, a group fitness class or a hike with friends, I am there. This love of sport and activity, led me to minor in Physical Education. Participating with my students in PE is always a fun time.
When I have free time, I like to play field hockey with a club in SLC, dirt bike with my husband, kayak or take my daughter swimming, to museums or parks. I’ve always loved watching movies and for the past year foreign and indie films have been my favorite.

Email:  jmclean@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/jmclean/

Kirsten Dale

Science

Kirsten Dale

Kirsten Dale

Science

I earned my degree in Biology from the University of Montana and since then, I’ve taught the sciences in numerous non-traditional classrooms.  I began my journey in education as a naturalist on boat expeditions in the San Juan Islands of Washington.  I identified local fauna and flora and discussed their life histories with an emphasis on the local orca population.  This segued into teaching marine biology for the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California. While there, I taught a range of marine biology courses in classroom and lab settings and also led educational snorkels, kayaks, and hikes.  More recently, I became a science educator for the Discovery Museum in Reno where I taught children about simple machines, energy, and forces.  These experiences confirmed my desire to teach the sciences and led me to pursue my Master of Education degree.

My interests outside of teaching include mountain biking, photography, snowboarding, hiking, and traveling.  I studied abroad in Finland during college and then backpacked alone throughout Europe.  Following graduation, I worked for over a year in New Zealand, traveled to Australia, and crewed on a sail boat among the islands of Fiji and made the two-week Pacific passage back to New Zealand.

 

Email:  kdale@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/kdale/

Debbie Deemer

Math/Leadership

Debbie Deemer

Debbie Deemer

Math/Leadership

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Eleven years ago I moved to California. Although we loved it there, we moved to Utah two years later, and ever since I have lived in beautiful Utah. I miss living near my extended family and try to visit them often. I am married and have four children; the oldest just graduated from high school, and the youngest was born in December, 2013. They keep me busy. My free time is mostly spent with my family. I attend a lot of sporting events to either watch my cheerleader or one of my two soccer players. I also love to read, scrapbook, watch movies, cheer for the Chicago Bears, and play family games.

I worked as a Teacher’s Assistant in Mathematics for 6th graders at Summit Academy Junior High. My love of mathematics and junior high-aged children blossomed at Summit Academy and led to my decision to teach Secondary Mathematics. I earned my Master of Arts in Secondary Education in December of 2013 from The University of Phoenix. My Bachelor of Science is from Northern Illinois University with a major in Natural Environmental Studies and a minor in Mathematics.

I am very excited to help Ascent Academy students learn math. We study mathematics to prepare for the future by helping us organize ideas, think rationally & critically, apply concepts, and learn to problem solve. All are skills that have practical applications in everybody’s life!

Email:  ddeemer@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/ddeemer/

Alix Van Noy

English/Theater

Alix Van Noy

Alix Van Noy

English/Theater

I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to teach at Ascent Academy. Born in Mesa, Arizona i moved to Utah at a very young age. Soon after High School I moved to Twin Falls, Idaho where I received an AA in Theatre Arts and an in AA Secondary Education. Here I found my love for teaching when I helped coach the local high school drama competition team to a 2nd place trophy. Unexpectedly I ended back in Utah at Utah State University where I earned my BFA In Theatre Education. 

Theatre has been a part of my life since elementary when I first played Count Paris in our school production of Romeo and Juliet. In middle school I luckily had a few teachers re-ignite my passion for the arts and I haven't stopped since. Having played in roles such as Lysander from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream to Phillip Lombard in Agatha Christie's And then There Were None as well as extensive technical  and design experience I hope to create a great theatre program for Ascent Academy.

 Theatre is more than a chance to show off on the stage. Theatre gives us the opportunity to gain new friends, create lasting memories and learn to understand the people and world around us. 

Email:  avannoy@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/avannoy

Hannah Nelson

English

Hannah Nelson

Hannah Nelson

English

Hello!

My name is Hannah Nelson and I am so excited to be a part of this impressive school! I am a California girl, learning to love the cold Utah weather! My journey to becoming an English teacher began in Rexburg, Idaho where I gained my passion for teaching at Brigham Young University—Idaho. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I taught at Las Vegas High School (Las Vegas, Nevada) and Roosevelt Junior High (Roosevelt, Utah).

I am so lucky to get to facilitate the exciting journey that learning can be and I strive to help students gain all of the wonderful things that are possible to learn from literature. Works of literature have been preserved throughout centuries of world history, making it possible for us to experience so many things that we would otherwise never get to “see”. There is nothing quite like getting lost in a book that speaks to who you are or who you want to become. From literature, we learn the most important lessons about what it means to be human. We learn that our lives and our choices make a much bigger impact than it sometimes seems on our own futures as well as the people we are around. We learn that in the complicated world we live in, there is always something worth fighting for.

When I am not teaching or reading my favorite books, I love to do many other things! I play soccer and swim, love to dabble in photography, watch movies, and like to ride my bike and run. I also very much enjoy sewing and learning other forms of crafts and art! I have four brothers and no sisters and have one niece and one nephew.

I can’t wait to get to know and learn with all of my students at Ascent Academy!

Email:  hnelson@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/hnelson

Michael Grieco

History

Michael Grieco

Michael Grieco

History

I am thrilled to be a part of the inaugural year at Ascent Academy. I first developed my passion for history in middle school, and I continue to explore, and learn more through my role as a teacher. I am excited to spread my love for history, travel and culture with my students.

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, I graduated from the State University of Oswego in 2011, where I received my B.A. in History, and a minor in Psychology. After attending SUNY Oswego, I attended Union Graduate College in Schenectady, New York, and received my Master of Arts in teaching Social Studies in 2013. Through his full year internship, I taught three 8th grade US History courses, and was a teacher’s assistant in two.

I just spent the past year teaching abroad in Shenzhen, China. I taught English, American History and World Geography in an international program for students who are anticipating going to college in America. I feel that my experience teaching abroad, as well as my extensive backpack traveling through Asia, Europe, and North America is an important asset to my teaching skills. As a history teacher, I hope to incorporate my time traveling to show students the importance of perspective not only in history, but also as a life skill.

Email:  mgrieco@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/mgrieco/

Tara Haslam

Career & Technical Education/Yearbook

Tara Haslam

Tara Haslam

Career & Technical Education/Yearbook

College and Career Readiness/Computer Technology/Keyboarding/Yearbook

Hello!! I am excited to be here at Ascent Academies of Utah – West Jordan!! I decided to become a teacher when I had a high school English teacher that helped turn a subject that I didn’t like into one that I loved. I have always wanted to show this same enthusiasm to my students and also demonstrate how fun and exciting learning about something new can be.

I grew up in a suburb north of Chicago, Illinois and I graduated from BYU with a major in English Teaching and a minor in Business. I have been a business teacher in various schools since 1998 and have really enjoyed seeing my students succeed over the years. I love teaching business classes because there is so much variety in the activities and projects that we do. These students learn about some of the most important life and career skills that a school has to offer.  I have also enjoyed teaching the yearbook class and seeing the positive result of all of the hard work that goes into creating a yearbook.  

I went on an LDS mission to Brazil and can speak Portuguese, some Spanish and some German.  I feel blessed to have traveled all over the world and to have seen many sites that I have always wanted to see. Some of my favorite trips have included a three week trip to 10 different countries in Europe, going to France with a group of students, Hawaii, San Diego, Disneyland and Disney World, New York City, and Washington D.C. I live in South Jordan with my husband and two daughters. My hobbies include painting wood crafts, baking, seeing movies and musicals, camping, and taking my two kids to many different places to explore and play.

Email:  thaslam@ascentutah.org
Website:  http://blogs.ascentutah.org/thaslam/

Jessica Coxworth

Jessica Coxworth

Art

My love of art started with my first class in high school. Since then, I’ve managed to keep art a part of my life by taking classes whenever I could. I received my bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Utah, but unexpectedly ended up with a job teaching art classes at a community center in Illinois.  Realizing how much I enjoyed sharing my knowledge of art with others inspired me to get my teaching degree, so here we are! I love seeing student’s creativity thrive; they inspire me to be a better artist!

Email:  jcoxworth@ascentutah.org
Website:  https://blogs.ascentutah.org/jcoxworth

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 stucker@ascentutah.org if you would like more information.