Venture K-8 Faculty and Staff


Administration and Office Staff

Mark Child, Ph.D.
K-12 Director


Mark inadvertently began his career in education by taking a temporary job as a teacher's assistant more than 20 years ago. He has been researching and developing interesting and effective ways of teaching and learning ever since.  Mark completed his Ph.D. in instructional design, development, and evaluation in 1995, and subsequently accepted a job as a professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.  After teaching at the college, Mark felt a strong desire to develop, first-hand, the kinds of school environments he was encouraging his college students to find and create.  In 1996, he moved his family to Northern Michigan to help start a new charter school in Traverse City named Woodland School.  

After 11 years at Woodland School, the last 9 years as its director, Mark was given the opportunity by the Venture Board of Directors to return home to Utah and serve as the Director of Venture Academy.  He is thrilled to be working with a great staff and board to bring a wonderful educational experience to the families in the area. 


Janey Stoddard
Principal, Venture Academy

Janey Stoddard - Bio coming soon.

Christel Grange-Hicks
Administrative Assistant

Christel lived a previous life climbing the fast paced corporate ladder (at the time she become the youngest Supervisor at a world renowned automotive company), before she had the opportunity to work with the future leaders, artists, doctors, scientists, etc of our world.  Christel attended Weber State University where she received her Associates degree and then dabbled in various possible Majors until life took her down another path, parenthood - the greatest and most challenging job ever.  Christel is the proud Mom of a smart, full of life, and creative daughter; and 2 energetic boarder collies (who have volunteered 100’s of hours working with children of various needs). When Christel isn’t busy training for the next half or full marathon she enjoys snowboarding (powder days are best), mountain biking, reading, and photography. Christel feels lucky to be able to work for Venture Academy, where students are encouraged to discover the answers, actively engage in the outdoors, serve their community, create art from various mediums, and work with the best teachers, staff and parents in the state.

Corrine Barrientos
Administrative Assistant

Corrine Barrientos - Bio coming soon


Pati Crosby
Administrative Assistant

Pati Crosby - Bio coming soon



Teaching Staff

Michelle Jacobson

Miss Jacobson was born and raised in Ogden.  She recently graduated from Weber State University with a B.S. in early childhood and elementary education.  Michelle comes from a large family and has always loved children.  Some of her hobbies include reading, camping, cooking, playing with her puppy named Tia, and spending time with her family and friends.  Michelle loves to learn and hopes to go back to school to get her masters in the near future.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Courtney Pendleton
1st and 2nd Grade

Miss Courtney was born and raised in Ogden, Utah. She has worked with children for many years at places such as The Boys & Girls Clubs, many different schools, and The Christmas Box House. She earned her bachelor degree from the University of Utah in Family Studies and Human Development, emphasizing in Early Childhood Education. She then went on to earn her master's degree from the U of U in Early Childhood Education. She loves adventuring in the great outdoors and being around her family and friends. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)



Heather Georgi
1st and 2nd Grade

Mrs. Georgi lived briefly as a kid in Utah, but primarily grew up in a small town in North Texas called Flower Mound. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, UT.  Heather recently graduated from Weber State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.  Heather’s accomplishment of finishing school is one that she shares and celebrates with her family. Her goal in life is to be a lifelong learner and she will be incorporating that philosophy into her teaching. Heather is excited to explore the diverse thoughts and ideas that the students at Venture will bring to her classroom. Teaching at a school that has the spirit of exploration and adventure is a dream come true for Heather!   (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)

Tiffany Barker
1st and 2nd Grade

Tiffany Barker - Bio coming soon.

Rebecca Johnson
1st and 2nd Grade

Miss Rebecca was born and raised in Utah. She spent most of her life living in a small town east of Park City. There were seven kids in her family so she has been around children a lot. She recently graduated from Utah State with a degree in Elementary Education. Rebecca LOVES teaching and spending her days with students that are so excited and ready to learn. She also loves reading, playing the flute, and teaching Sobie (her Amazon Parrot) how to say new words and phrases.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Trina Thomson
4th-5th Grade

Mrs. Thomson grew up in Cache Valley and graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Elementary Education. Trina has lived in Brigham City, Utah for the past 7 years. Her husband is also a teacher and they are the parents of 4 boys. Trina is passionate about learning, teaching, and sharing the gifts that she has been given.  Her favorite part of teaching is when she gets to see her students learn something well and then be able to incorporate what they have learned into their lives. She knows that her students will be the leaders of the future and feels it a privilege to be a part of their life journey.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Tandi Churchill
3rd Grade


Miss Churchill was born and raised along with three brothers and two sisters in sunny southern California. Tandi received her AA degree from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA and her B.A. from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. She loves photography, oil painting, and writing children’s stories. At Venture she has come to love the opportunity to engage her students in the performing arts (theater, song, dance, film, etc) for celebrations of learning and mega crews. She loves to help the students discover talents they never knew they had before. Expeditionary Learning has enabled her to create a classroom environment where the students discover the learning as they go and as a result, are able to construct real and lasting meaning. EL teaching has also given her the opportunity to teach her first and second graders concepts and vocabulary that are well above their grade level as they assume the role of the expert in the current field of study. She is always amazed at how they can engage real expert guests from cardiologists to herpetologists in meaningful discussions and inquiry about their areas of study.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)


Debbie Voetberg
4th-5th Grade

Debbie Voetberg - Bio coming soon.

Howard Brinkerhoff
4th-5th Grade

Ogden River Project Website

Mr. Brinkerhoff received a degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. His favorite subjects to teach are natural and biological sciences as well as math, and physical education. "I am thrilled about going ‘deep’ into our exciting expeditions and helping to open new worlds of knowledge to our students." Howard and Lori, his wife of 33 years, live in Farr West, Utah.  They are the parents’ to four adult children, two young men and two young women.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Jenny Rabe
4th-5th Grade 

Mrs. Rabe was raised in Thomaston Georgia, a great place to grow up!  With three brothers, there were always good times around the house like dancing, choir, scrapbooking, 4-H, International Club, and cheerleading.  She attended college at Brigham Young University where she pursued her life-long dream of becoming a teacher.  She took the opportunity to take a ballroom dance class and loved it so much, she decided to get a minor in Ballroom dance.  After three years of college, she served a mission for her church in the great city of Las Vegas, where she learned to love the people and will always cherish the memories. She finished her bachelor’s degree and graduated April, 2008.  She was planning to teach in Las Vegas where she did her student teaching, but all answers pointed to Ogden, Utah.  Though she had no family connections in the Ogden area, she felt that Venture Academy was where she should be!    She loves the in-depth learning and feels that Venture puts the love of learning back into schooling.  She is excited to be a part of it.  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Christina Earl
3rd Grade

Although Mrs. Earl was born in Utah, she spent most of her childhood in central Texas. She and her family returned to Utah when she was in high school. She has grown to love the majestic mountains and breathtaking hikes that you can find here in Utah. Thanks to her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree and Venture Academy, she is now able to combine her love of children with her love for new adventures. She feels it is a privilege to ignite a passion for lifelong learning and purpose in her students. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 


Kate Nielson
6th-8th Math

Kate Nielsen grew up in Washington and Alaska.  She currently lives in Tremonton with her husband and four children, two of whom attend Venture.  She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BS in Mathematics and a MS in Mathematics and a minor in Statistics. Kate worked as a math aid for 4th and 5th graders at McKinley Elementary in Tremonton and as a Math Instructor at Ogden High School. Her hobbies include crocheting, camping, 4-wheeling, and Disneyland.  Kate is enthusiastic about teaching at Venture in the 6-8th pod and getting her students’ involved and excited about math. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher with a Medical Math Endorsement.) 


Paul Murdock
6th-8th Grade

Mr. Murdock was born and raised in Cache Valley, Utah.  He graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics in December 2007.  During his senior year he was introduced to an organization called Teach for America which seeks to take recent college graduates and place them in inner-city classrooms.  Paul applied and was accepted.  In August 2008, he and his family set out on an adventure and moved to Maryland, where he taught at Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School for two years.  Throughout this time Paul completed a Masters of Teaching in Elementary Education from The American University in Washington D.C.  Wanting to be closer to family, he, his beautiful wife, and two cute daughters returned to Utah.  Educating is something that he is passionate about, because an education is priceless.  Teaching at Venture for Paul is an exciting experience and opportunity, in which students are encouraged and challenged to think outside the box. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Russell Dichter
6th-8th Science

Mr. Dichter grew up in Santa Rosa, California where he attended a Waldorf School from 2nd - 12th grade.  From there he moved to Oregon to attend Linfield college, where he received hi BA in studio art, with an emphasis in ceramics.  the summer before he graduated, he had the privilege of enrolling in a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for two and a half months.  that experience re-awakened his passion and sense of curiosity towards the world and make him realize that he wanted to become a science teacher.  He wanted to spark that sense of wander, amazement and curiosity in the minds of the kids, to stimulate their imagination.  So, Mr. Russell went back to school twice, once to earn his credits in the science field and a second time to receive his Masters in Teaching at Lewis & Clark College.  Right after graduation he had the privilege of discovering Venture Academy where he now teaches as the 6th-8th grade science teacher. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Sarah Brown
6th-8th Science

Ms. Brown attended and taught at an expeditionary learning style high school in Salt Lake City. She loves outdoor adventures like day hikes and backpacking as well as world traveling. She lives on 12 acres in Huntsville with her son, wild mustangs, dogs, cats, chickens and ducks. She is excited to be at Venture and is excited to share adventures with Venture students. (Authorized by the State while seeking license) 

Deanna Treadway
6th - 8th English

Deanna came to teaching at Venture through a long and interesting path.  She grew up in Colorado where her family operated an wilderness outfitting business.  The great outdoors was literally her second home.  During college she held such jobs as Physics TA and cabinet maker. After graduating with a degree in English/Linguistics from Colorado State University, she worked in construction management for many years, building thousands of houses in several states. After her younger children were born, she completed a Masters in Education at Weber State and taught for 6 years at private schools.  She first joined Venture in 2010 as a Title I Tutor, which she loved.  She is very happy to be an English teacher in the middle school and looks forward to sharing many adVentures, literary and otherwise, with her students. Mrs. Treadway lives in North Ogden with her husband and two younger children. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher, authorized throught the ARL program.)

Brian Tippets
6th-8th English

Mr. Tippets grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.  He recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, formerly known as Ricks, studying both English and Spanish Education,  “I am just fascinated by languages”.  After learning Portuguese and Spanish, he has decided to learn American Sign Language and maybe one day Italian.  His hobbies include juggling, playing ultimate Frisbee, going country or ballroom dancing, envying Parkour enthusiasts, and learning (go history channel!).  Although his family is 1,800 miles away, he feels like Venture is a second home already. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)

Brett Cragun
6th-8th Social Studies

Brett Cragun - Bio coming soon.

Brett McAllister
6th-8th Social Studies

Mr. McAllister grew up and attended school not too far from Venture.  Being local gives him a unique insight to the culture and history of our area.  He graduated from Weber State University majoring in History while minoring in Geography.  After graduating college he ran a warehouse in Salt Lake waiting for the right teaching job to come around.  Mr. McAllister has taught history to grades 6-12.  He taught AP American History before coming to Venture and found great success with that subject.  Having taught middle school, junior high, and high school has given Mr. McAllister the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to be successful.  Having taught in the traditional public school system, he sees the value of expeditionary learning and feels that this type of teaching is the most effective for young minds and helps them not only be successful in school, but in life.  He loves what he does and he loves to make it come to life for his students.  He pushes his students because he knows that they can do hard things.  He loves sports and spending time with his family.    (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)



Anne Mortensen
K-8 Visual Arts


Stacy Swapp
Adventure Coordinator

Stacy Swapp was born in San Diego, Ca. With her father in the military, she grew up moving every two years to places all over the globe.  She spent her high school years in Italy and Northern California. Her college experience started in Northern California and finished at Weber State University with a pit stop in Virginia. She graduated with a Human Performance major and Mathematics minor. Sports and outdoor adventure have always been a staple in her life. At an early age she started swimming competitively, not only in pools but in oceans. Volleyball became very important to her as she grew. Stacy has spent the last 20 years coaching high school volleyball. Five years ago, she decided to run a marathon! Now, with eight under her belt, you could say she likes it.
Teaching children and youth is something that is in her blood. Not only does she enjoy teaching PE at school, she is also a swimming instructor, piano teacher and math tutor. She finds working with kids one of the most rewarding things in life. Being able to now teach her own four children in school is also a joy. She is very excited to bring new experiences to her students. She believes there is no better place to learn about life and yourself than in the outdoors. When she is not busy teaching something, she is traveling somewhere! There is always someplace new to discover and explore!

Audra Turner

Audra Turner
Physical Education

Mrs. Turner has lived in the Ogden area for seven years. This is Mrs. Turner 's fourth year teaching, but her first year here at Venture. She credits her competitive nature for her passion for exercise, sport, and recreation. She studied at the University of Idaho where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor degree in Physical Education and another bachelor degree in School and Community Health. She enjoys running, biking and nearly any other fitness activity. She loves to travel and go on adventures (like whitewater rafting) with her husband and two kids. Mrs. Turner teaches physical education and health classes K-12.

Cindy Child
Middle & High School Band

Mrs. Child was born in Utah and lived in Cache Valley until she was 16. Her family then moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where she finished her last two years of high school. Mrs. Child received a bachelor's degree in music education from BYU and a master's degree in clarinet performance from Arizona State University. Following graduation she taught clarinet on the faculty of BYU from 1990 -1995. During that time she performed as a freelance clarinetist with the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Orpheus Winds, the Utah Chamber Artists and the Canyon Winds Woodwind Quintet. Mrs. Child lived in Traverse City, Michigan for the last 11 years where she taught band at Woodland School from 2001 -2007 and chamber music at the Interlochen Arts Camp from 2002 -2004. While living in Traverse City, Mrs. Child performed with the Northwood Trio, Traverse Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Winds.  Mrs. Child is a member of the Orchestra at Temple Square and frequently performs with the group at TV broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word. Dr. and Mrs. Child are the parents of four children. Mrs. Child is delighted to "venture" with the band and music students at our school into the wonderful world of music! She especially loves the enthusiasm students show when starting a new instrument!  (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.) 

Jennette Madsen
Special Education

Miss Jennette was reared in a Military family that moved every four years. This created the opportunity to see new places as well as meet many interesting people. After graduating from WSU with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication she moved to Washington State. There she ran her own desktop publishing business along with a small monthly newspaper for the city of Hazel Dell. Loving the great North West but missing her family, she then moved back to Utah. 
After returning to Utah, she met and married a real gentleman who already had two of his own children, thus creating a blended family. Jennette stayed home with her young children until the youngest was in kindergarten. After that time, she turned to volunteering at their schools. She was hired on as a paraprofessional and from there, decided she wanted to teach because she really enjoyed helping the students succeed to their fullest potential. (NCLB Highly Qualified Teacher.)



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