Academic Staff

Classroom-n-books-at-DRG

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

At Discovery Ranch, our teachers and educators strive to help our girls learn in a way that can stay with them for the rest of their lives. We have a system to help those who have struggled in the past to learn. We want our students to acquire the skills necessary to find success and enjoyment in school and eventually be prepared for college and beyond. A major portion of this learning process involves experiential learning, which helps students actively learn.

Educator Bios

Laurie Laird, Principal
Laurie recently joined the Discovery Academy team after serving as Education Director for fifteen years at an adolescent female residential program along with one year as Executive Director for a preteen program. Prior to working in residential treatment, Laurie taught in the public school system, both in junior high and high school. Laurie graduated in secondary education from Brigham Young University and has a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling. Laurie taught at the college level for six years at the University of Phoenix, in the education and math departments. Passionate about providing quality education experience for youth, Laurie brings her education and experience to best serve the academic program at Discovery Academy. Laurie enjoys the outdoors, reading, and spending time with her four children and two grandchildren.

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Clint Firth Academic DirectorClint Firth is the Academic Director at Discovery Ranch for Girls. Clint’s circuitous route to the teaching profession began when he graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in International Politics. After spending eight years in the technology industry, most of which was spent as CEO of IntekUSA, Inc, he was convinced by his wife to follow his heart and turn his passion for databases, business math, and kids into a teaching profession. Since that decision, Clint has worked six years as a full-time math teacher — three as a public school teacher and three in the private residential community. He now has a clear math teaching credential in the State of California, as well as being a certified Teacher of English Learners. Clint also has a passion for music and guitars, and he has taught private guitar lessons for several years. Clint and his wife Alison are the happy parents of six beautiful children, all of whom are intelligent, spirited, gifted, and extremely challenging to parent. Hobbies include guitar music, basketball, backpacking, gardening, and anything else he can do with his family.

Christi Orme Assistant Academic DirectorChristi Orme is the Assistant Academic Director at Discovery Ranch for Girls. She was born and raised in Southern California and then moved to Cedar City her Sophomore year of high school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Family Services from Southern Utah University. After working with the local school district in Special Education for a few years she received the opportunity to work here at DRG. Her future plans include attending a master’s program for School Counseling. She truly loves working with the students and guiding them through their academic endeavors.

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Jessica Bulloch
Jessica Bulloch is the Special Education Coordinator at Discovery Ranch for Girls. She has been teaching for the past fifteen years. Jessica attended Dixie State College (where her grandma was an English professor). She graduated with an A.S. and attended Southern Utah University and graduated with a B.A. degree in Family and Consumer Science. Jessica taught for three years in St. George, Utah and established the Young Parent Program at Millcreek Alternative High School. She then married and stayed home to raise five children. After ten years and a divorce, she started teaching in Cedar City, Utah and went back to school and finished her Master’s degree in Education with an Administrative/Supervisory Endorsement. After teaching FACS for three years in Cedar City, she obtained her degree in Special Education from the University of Utah and has taught in that area since. She loves to shop, go to the beach, lay in the sand and read books. She loves professional football–Go Broncos!! Her biggest joy is her children and grandchildren.
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Micah-BakerMicah Baker is the History and Social Studies Teacher at Discovery Ranch for Girls. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in History Education from Southern Utah University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012. Micah has been with the Ranch from the beginning and loves sharing her passion for learning with her students. She is also the Academic Experiential Director. Some of her favorite activities have been: building and launching model rockets, teaching Braille, discovering the wide world of origami, exploring animation and Skyping with legendary animator Don Bluth, creating Medieval coat of arms, and helping students foster of love of Shakespeare by attending an all-day field trip to Cedar City’s Shakespeare Festival. When she isn’t teaching, Micah can often be found folding paper for her latest origami creation or solving puzzles. She is also quite the connoisseur of movies and enjoys finding lesser-known films to add to her eclectic collection. We are excited to share that Micah won the 2015 NATSAP Service Award! We shared more details about this accomplishment on our blog: Micah Baker 2015 NATSAP Service Award.

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Math and Physics Teacher
Vicki Heaton
Vicki Heaton is the math teacher at Discovery Ranch for Girls. She is married and lives in Cedar City, Utah. She recently retired as a Math and Physics teacher at Cedar City High School. Vicki obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics with an Art minor from Southern Utah University. Later, she earned a Master’s of Education with a Science Emphasis also from SUU. This included an endorsement to teach Physics. In addition to loving to read and do artwork, Vicki trained to become a luthier. She currently builds and repairs violins and guitars at her family business Whittlesticks in Cedar City. When time allows, she pulls a few weeds from her garden. She loves the outdoors, especially being in the mountains since she was born and spent her early years in Sun Valley, Idaho. Currently, she is learning how to engrave metal. It should be apparent that Vicki loves learning and hopes to continue doing that her whole life. She wants to share that love of learning with the young women at DRG.

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Kat Orzechowski Price Teacher
Kat Orzechowski-Price grew up in Southern California. Her passions are traveling and teaching. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language Studies from San Francisco State University; a Post-Graduate Certificate in Applied Linguistics from Birmingham University, UK; and a Secondary Teaching Certificate in Language Arts from Southern Utah University. Specializing in teaching English as a second or foreign language, she taught English at Gachon University in South Korea from 2011 to 2013. Having taught English to almost every age group, she loves a challenge. In her free time, she enjoys seeing new places and meeting new people. Of course, she also enjoys just sitting at home with a new book.

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kaylee-Green-DRG-Teacher
Kaylee Green was born in Ogden, Utah. She attended Fremont High School, in Plain City, Utah and graduated with an associate degree from Weber State University. In 2007 she moved to Cedar City and married Phil Green. While in Cedar she attended Southern Utah University and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor degree in both art and PE with a coaching endorsement. For two years she worked as an art teaching at SEA (Southwest Education Academy). Kaylee continues to assist as a special needs Teacher Assistant for the same school district. She loves teaching and enjoys encouraging creative minds. Before teaching art, Kaylee taught and ran swimming lessons at the Cedar City Aquatic Center. She has also taught water aerobics at Southern Utah University. She is a proud mother of three kids, one daughter and two boys. Family time is important to her and she loves her crazy busy life they cause. Kaylee has always enjoyed the outdoors and she particularly likes to go hiking with her family. She also loves to scrapbook and paint. Kaylee has always shown a passion for running, having completed many marathons. She hopes to qualify for Boston for bragging rights and to have an excuse to go to Boston.

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David-Rees-Science-Teacher
David Rees was born in Northern Utah but has lived in many places ranging from Florida to Hawaii. Watching the exploits of the Hubble Space Telescope in the 90s led to an incurable addiction to science. He graduated from Southern Utah University and now enjoys six years of sharing explosions, reactions, eclipses, transits and many other natural phenomena with his science students.

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Cassidy Gill
Cassidy Anderson grew up in Moab, Utah and now lives in Cedar City. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in Art Education. She hopes to later earn a degree in Art Therapy, and wants to continue use her own passions and talents to uplift and help the youth. When she is not working with DRG students, Cassidy spends her mornings teaching art to credit deficient high school students at an alternative high school. Her favorite activities include: painting, drawing, photography, dance, writing, and anything else that inspires creativity and self expression.

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Emalee Smith grew up in Southern Utah. She loves the rural desert landscapes of Cedar City, and spends much of her spare time mountain biking, running, and hiking. Emalee is also a shameless hoarder of books (although she prefers to be called a collector of books) and is typically in the middle of at least three writing projects. After completing a degree in English at Southern Utah University, Emalee began exploring a career in education. She has worked as a tutor, mentor, substitute teacher, and as an adjunct professor. She now teaches English at the local high school. She loves working with students and helping them to find their passion for learning.

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alec-anderson-teacher-drg
Alec Anderson grew up in a small community in rural Nevada. Upon graduation from high school he came to Cedar City to pursue a degree in Accounting and Economics. He loves having the opportunity to help and make a difference in the lives of other people. Alec enjoys teaching and mentoring youth as they progress academically. He loves golf, fishing, reading, and spending time with family.

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Special Ed. TA
Laura-Leavitt-Special-Ed-DRG
Laura Leavitt was born and raised in Cedar City Utah, but spent most of her childhood summers on her grandparents’ farm in Enterprise, where she learned hard work, the value of a dollar, and the best ways to cheat at Rook– her family’s favorite card game. Laura was one of those rare children who begged her parents for piano lessons, and when she turned five they finally gave in. Her life-long love affair with music continues to this day. When they’re not working or visiting extended family, she and her husband Zach like to cook, learn new things, hike, and watch mystery shows, always trying to find out “whodunit” before the main characters do.

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tanner-gamble-drg
Tanner Gamble grew up in Centerville, UT and is now living in Cedar City, UT with his wife while attending Southern Utah University. He is studying biology and will graduate with a biology degree. Following graduation from SUU, he will be attending a dental school where he wants to be either a dentist or an orthodontist. When Tanner is not at work, he loves playing sports of all types, hiking, being outdoors, four-wheeling, spending time with family, and learning.

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Shelby-Esplin-DRG
Shelby Esplin is the science TA at Discovery Ranch for Girls. She grew up in Colorado and moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. While attending college, Shelby dove on the school’s Swim and Dive team where she learned the importance of time management, discipline, and daily exercise. She just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Wellness. Before finishing school, she served a mission for eighteen months in Texas and Louisiana. During her time in the South, she learned to love teaching and helping people achieve their goals. Shelby lives in Cedar with her husband. She enjoys teaching girls to love science as much as she does.

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Daniel-Simpkins-DRG
Daniel is the History TA for Discovery Ranch for Girls. He is currently attending Southern Utah University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with an emphasis in secondary teaching. Daniel grew up in St George, UT, and enjoys spending free time with his family. He loves teaching and watching people learn and grow academically.

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Rick-Haag-DRG
Rick Haag moved to southern Utah in 2005. His life has been an adventure. He grew up on a horse ranch in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Rick has been a professional rodeo athlete, a horse trainer, and a certified corrective horseshoer. He studied at Merced College and Southern Utah University with a literature emphasis. Rick has written a novel and is a professional copywriter. His life is centered on spending time with his family and coaching youth soccer. He is also the soccer coach at DRG. Rick believes that we are all here to bring value to this world and to overcome adversity. Rick loves helping the girls at Discovery Ranch believe in their individual intrinsic worth as they develop academically, athletically, and personally.

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Mikael is a Southern Utah native from her childhood and loves living in her homeland. After graduating high school in 2013 she attended Waldorf University in Northern Iowa, where she played right defensive back on the women’s soccer team. Shortly after returning from serving an LDS church mission in Chile, she transferred to Snow College where she met her husband, Quinn. Mikael graduated from Southern Utah University with a Bachelor of Communication Studies and a minor in Spanish. She also graduated as an SUU certified mediator. She loves spending time with her family and playing sports.

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Kaprena-Moore-DRG
Kaprena became a Cedar City local in April of 2017, right after finishing her bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies with an emphasis in pre-therapy and a minor in Spanish. She feels passionate about helping families and couples strengthen their relationships. Kaprena is certified to teach several different Family Life Education courses on healthy dating and strengthening marital bonds. She loves to learn and share her findings of relationships and human connection. In her spare time, she enjoys writing music on the guitar and piano, Latin dancing, playing her violin, practicing her Spanish, and volunteering in the children’s organization in her local church congregation. Kaprena hopes to someday teach Family Life Education courses full-time in her community and become a full-time advocate for marriage and children.

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Taylor-Wilson-DRG
Taylor Wilson grew up in Roosevelt, Utah and then traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend Oral Roberts University. She was the first person at the university to receive a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. Taylor now lives in Cedar City, Utah where she and her husband enjoy cooking, hiking, bike riding, and renovating their fixer-upper house. She is passionate about music and is very thankful for the opportunity it is to teach the girls at Discovery Ranch about the healing that music can offer.

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Josh Osborne is a science TA for DRG. He is completing his degree in Biology and Chemistry at Southern Utah University. Josh is passionate about helping others and he loves educating and mentoring our future leaders. Josh also enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and their dog.

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Mykayla-Hayden-DRG
Mykayla grew up in Cedar City Utah and lives there now with her husband. She attends Southern Utah University studying Elementary Education. When Mykayla isn’t tutoring at Discovery Ranch or going to school at SUU, she enjoys riding horses, helping with her family’s ranch, roping, and any other outdoor activity. She hopes to teach elementary school full time after she graduates from SUU.

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Angel Pena is Math TA and Tutor at DRG. Angel grew up in Sonora, Mexico and moved to Cedar City to attend Southern Utah University and pursue a degree in Physical Education. He is currently getting his prerequisites for veterinary school, and hopes to be a vet in the active duty army. Angel currently serves in the National Guard as a 13B, cannon crewmember. He loves working with our students as they work to fulfill their potential and find their motivation and love for learning. In his free time Angel likes to spend time outside with his wife and dogs.
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Tutor
madie-Hugentobler-dRG
Madie grew up in Moab Utah and now lives in Cedar City while she and her husband attend school at Southern Utah University. Madie is currently working towards becoming a Radiology Technician and plans on attending the Weber State University outreach program next fall to do so. When she isn’t at work or going to school, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, playing soccer, and enjoying the outdoors. She also loves learning new things and meeting new people.

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Tutor

Hailee Donner is a science tutor for Discovery Ranch for Girls. She graduated with a degree in Biology in 2014. After working for several years in the biomedical field, she decided to start a career in education. She is in the process of getting her teaching certification. She loves to travel and has lived in several states including Idaho, Nevada, Minnesota, California, and Utah. Hailee loves spending time with her family and fur babies, playing music, and learning new things. Hailee brings her enthusiasm for science and love of learning to the students at DRG!

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Tutor

Sasha Hardman is a math tutor at Discovery Ranch for Girls. Sasha is currently attending Southern Utah University and is working toward her bachelors of Secondary Mathematics Education. Sasha is passionate about teaching and working with children and teens and is excited to become a high school math teacher. When Sasha is not working or in school she loves spending time with her 3 children and husband. Sasha spends a lot of her free time outdoors with her family camping, fishing, hunting, and working on her backyard farm.

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