Faculty


Administration

Kevin Dunkley

Kevin Dunkley was born and raised in Logan, Utah. He attended Utah State University and graduated in Elementary Education, with a minor in Social Studies. Kevin began teaching in Cache County school district as a fourth grade teacher. After two years Kevin was asked to teach at Edith Bowen Laboratory School (Utah State University), which he did for the next two years. He taught 4th grade, and supervised student teachers and coordinated programs for the gifted and talented. Kevin moved his family to St. George in 1983 and began teaching at West Elementary. At West Elementary, Kevin taught fourth grade as well and was also the coordinator over the gifted program. Kevin has taught graduate classes, in Gifted Education through Utah State University Ext. and also taught as an adjunct professor at Dixie State College. Kevin retired in 2007 from Washington County School District. His last 12 years were spent teaching at Santa Clara Elementary School. While at Santa Clara, Kevin received the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Teacher of the Year Award in Technology in Education. Kevin was awarded a grant by USWest for the implementation of an Outdoor Classroom. The Outdoor Classroom was complete with a Native American Village, Green House, Grow boxes, Koi Fish Pond, and Native Plant Habitat. His fourth grade students were involved in the planning and the construction of the Outdoor Classroom. After four years at Dixie State Kevin began teaching at Valley Academy Charter School. He is married to Lisa Jenkins, they are the parents of six children, and fourteen grandchildren. He loves the students, faculty and staff at Valley Academy and is looking forward to another great year.

Faculty

Nykell Kaa
Kindergarten

I was born and raised in Washington, UT. I graduated Pineview High School. I attended Dixie State University and finished my Bachelors of Education with an Early Childhood endorsement at SUU. I served an LDS mission in between schooling in Brisbane, Australia and there met my husband. I finished my degree and than was off to a little town in the outback of Australia. There I had the opportunity to learn about different cultures as I did substitute teaching. I am a proud mom of twins boys who where born while we lived in Australia. I am so excited to be teaching Kindergarten at Valley Academy!

Crystal Brown
First Grade

Crystal Brown was born and raised in Hurricane. She is the youngest of four children. She has two brothers and one sister. She is a graduate of HHS and Dixie State College. She was a SEE Student at LaVerkin Elementary teaching fourth grade students. She has always enjoyed dance and music, and playing the guitar. She likes watching all sports, but her favorite sport would be football. From an early age, she developed a love for the beauty of the Southern Utah scenery. She loves the outdoors, camping, hiking, and especially off-roading with her family. Her love of the area has kept her here. She is the mother of six wonderful children, and she is married to the love of her life, Steve. She has had a love of children her entire life. She worked in a day care and as a paraprofessional before having a family of her own. She then dedicated her life to her children for thirteen years, being a stay at home mother, and then she decided it was time to finish her education and become a teacher, something she dreamed of becoming all her life. She loves to learn and wants others to have the same love, so striving to help her students, and pushing them to higher levels is her goal. Seeing students engaged in learning puts a smile on her face. She is excited to be a part of our dynamic “Firsties” team, and can’t wait to see the progress her students will make.

Jessamine Gates
First Grade

Jessie was born and raised amidst the red rocks of southern Utah. After graduating from Pineview High School she moved to LaVerkin and has been there ever since. She is married to Brett, has an amazing son named Aidan, and a blue heeler named Nellie. She decided at 35 years old what she wanted to be when she grew up –a teacher- so she went back to school. While studying she worked as a kindergarten paraprofessional and a reading interventionist. She was a SEE student in a first grade classroom and graduated from Dixie State University with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education. Jessie loves teaching at Valley Academy. Yay First Grade!

Nicole Simmons
Second Grade

Nicole was born and raised in Las Vegas , NV. She graduated from UNLV with a degree in Elementary Education. She has taught in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Nicole moved to Hurricane in 2010 and loves being in Southern Utah. She is married with seven children. In her spare time she enjoys movies, the great outdoors and spending time with her family. This lady runs a tight ship, and her students absolutely love her for it. She teaches them with encouraging words and a belief that each one has it inside to be amazing every single day. A pat on the back from Mrs. Simmons is gold. She expects her students to work hard and learn all that they can. She motivates them to do better every single day. In getting to know them through their first grade experience in her class, she forms a bond with them that lasts forever. They see her in the hallway, long after being in her first grade class, and they can’t help pulling her into a big hug. They simply love this lady. How lucky are we that we get to call Nicole Simmons “ours”?

Tana Hall
Second Grade

Tana is originally from Utah. She received her educational degree at Utah State University and her Masters degree from the University of Utah. Tana has taught in both traditional school settings and also overseas teaching English. She started her teaching career in Orem, where she taught first grade for three years. After that Tana moved to Austria to teach English at a public school. Later she moved to Korea where she taught English in a Korean English school and then fifth grade on the military base in Seoul. This world traveler took a break from teaching when she had her son Maxx. When he was old enough for school, Tana got a job at LaVerkin Elementary teaching first grade for the next three years. She’s now excited to be here at Valley Academy! She loves teaching, reading and writing, and she loves being with kids. Her favorite things to do are to hang out with Maxx (he’s a great Monopoly player), to read and to run.

Andria Vincent
Third Grade

Ms. Vincent’s favorite past time is spending time with her two daughters. She grew up in Sandy, and moved to Washington city three years ago. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Minor in Special Education and a Minor in ESL from Westminster College of Salt Lake City. Her previous experience is with first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade students in Special Education. This year she feels very blessed to continue teaching as a part of our awesome third grade team here at Valley Academy. Give this lady an idea, and she’ll turn that idea into something incredible. The walls outside her classroom are always displaying her students handiwork. She’s a history buff, and she loves sharing ideas and concepts with her students. She has a talent for taking every day materials and incorporating them into hands on, fun lessons for her creative thinkers. What a great teacher!

Nicole Shaw
Third Grade

Amber Bain
Third Grade

Tara Freiberg
Fourth Grade

Tara Freiberg is a fourth grade teacher at Valley Academy. She graduated from Dixie State College on May 4, 2012 and spent the 2011/2012 school year in an internship at Springdale Elementary. It was there that she had the opportunity to teach in a multi-grade classroom, 3rd – 5th. She is very excited to teach at Valley Academy because of the schools emphasis on social and emotional intelligence, technology, and the arts which are all centered on academics and the belief that it is necessary to teach to the whole child. She feels that diversity should be celebrated and that our differences only make us stronger. She believes that learning is a lifelong process and that every child is capable of doing so. Tara is passionate about instilling a love of learning in her students. She feels that this is accomplished by sharing her own love of learning and meeting the needs of all of her students. Tara is married to Eric Freiberg. They have two daughters, Eden and Isis, who have been a part of our Valley family as well. They have lived in Hurricane for the past twelve years. They chose Hurricane originally because it is close to Zion National Park, a favorite spot for their family. Tara loves to be outdoors as much as possible.

Kandis White
Fourth Grade

Kandis was born in Hawaii and spent most of her childhood in Southern California, but now calls Hurricane “home.” She enjoys sports (especially basketball), hiking, geocaching, writing, snowboarding, reading, history, and anything that makes her laugh. The one thing that she enjoys above everything else is spending time with her three boys, Ryler, Gage, and Weston. Being the youngest of eight children, Kandis has many great examples in life. With a mother as her teacher in jr. high, high school, and college, she couldn’t help but follow into teaching herself. Kandis received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Health from Southern Utah University and is near completion of her Master in Sports Conditioning and Performance. She has been teaching since 2004 while continuing her education. She has taught English, History, Science, Math, Physical Education, Health, and a variety of other extracurricular classes. Kandis has a great love for writing and reading that she hopes to share with her students. She also plans on creating an outstanding Health and Physical Education program at Valley Academy.

Charlotte Potter
Fifth Grade

I have loved, lOvEd, LOVED finally becoming an official part of the Valley Academy faculty in 2015. We have the absolute best kiddos in the world here at our school. I love their shiny, happy faces, and the enthusiasm they bring with them to school every single day. Ever since my daughter started kindergarten with KJ in 2012, I have been an active part of this school. Some say it’s denial in cutting the apron strings, and I say it’s wanting to be a part of something special that just happens to involve my own kiddo. I was the PTO President for two years, and had to let that go when I became a part time 7th grade CTE teacher. I’ve taught elementary students, middle schoolers, high school students, and college students, and I ‘m finding that my heart is truly with these amazing 5th grade humans. I can’t wait to see them every day; they make my heart smile. I enjoy teaching them about the zillions of possibilities that lie before them as their futures unfold, and we have some great experiences in 5th grade I’m biased when I say that everyone should bring their kids to Valley Academy. I’ve been lucky to have been a part of this school since the walls went up, through today, and into tomorrow.

Dale Varga
Fifth Grade

Dale is very excited to be a member of the Valley Academy team. He received his education from Southern Utah University. He received a B.A. in Construction Management and a B.S. in Elementary Education. Dale enjoys the outdoors and activities that include fishing, hunting, geocaching, hiking, etc… Dale lives in the Hurricane with his wife (who is also a teacher), and his three sons. This guy is super “mathy”, and can fine tune almost any 5th grade lesson to include a math aspect. He also teaches Social Studies, and gives his students chances every day to explore the history of our great nation. Need something built? Dale is seriously the most handy guy around. He can build anything. Really. In truly. He’s also a guy that can take an ordinary recipe and turn it into a culinary experience. Sewing? Bring it on! He’s an uber-talented guy. Dale looks forward, every day, to building quality relationships with parents, students, and VA staff. Favorite quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford.

Adfrian Jacobs
Sixth Grade

Mrs. Jacobs was born and raised in Mountain View, Alberta, Canada. She has lived in Utah for the last five years. She likes to ride her motorcycle, golf, swim, travel, and play softball. She has two remarkable daughters and one busy one year old son. She and her charismatic husband, Nick, love to take trips, have experiences, and spend time with them. Mrs. Jacobs has a great love for science and mathematics. She has been very involved in education for the last eight years. She has had the opportunity to travel to many schools and learn from all of them. For the last five years she has been employed by the Washington County School District as a behavior specialist helping students with social/emotional difficulties. She has had a lot of great experiences working with students on many different levels and is excited to be involved in extracurricular activities here at Valley. She started our Choir program, and is currently our Yearbook advisor. Each day, her students check in with each other, so that everyone knows how everyone else is feeling. She encourages patience, empathy and honesty. Her classroom is a mini-family, and they appreciate and encourage each other daily. Mrs. Jacobs is also a great mentor to other teachers, and regularly shares her ideas and activities with the faculty.

Dawn Holland
Sixth Grade

I was born in Salt Lake City and lived there till I was 12. We then moved to Las Vegas where I graduated from Eldorado High School and then moved to St. George shortly after. I married the most awesome man in the world, Joe, in the summer of 99′ and a year later we moved to Hurricane. I am now the proud mom of 3 girls and 2 boys. In 2014 I decided it was time to go back to college and get my Bachelors in Elementary Education. I love learning, experiencing new things, spending time with my family, and traveling. My kids have attended Valley Academy since it first opened it’s doors and I’m so excited to be a part of the team!

Tylar Laity
Seventh Grade

Mr. Laity (pronounced- Light*e) was born and raised in the small town of Ely, Nevada. He recently moved to Southern Utah with his wife to follow her career as an Echo Technician at Dixie Regional Medical Center. After graduating from Southern Utah University with his Bachelors in Elementary Education, Tylar went back home to teach and was a math teacher at WPMS of 6th and 8th grade for four and half years. He has a great passion for mathematics and technology, and how we can learn new things with problem solving, gaming, and exploration. Mr. Laity loves the outdoors, he is an avid hunter and enjoys fishing and camping with family and friends. He also is a sports fanatic, he can watch pretty much any sport but his favorites are baseball, basketball and soccer. He coached soccer and basketball for three years at his hometown high school and two years of basketball at the middles school before that, and would like to get back into coaching again someday.