About Us

History of the School

The Learning Academy of Teton Valley began in one classroom with fifteen students, ages 5-12. It was reminiscent of the one-room schoolhouses of the past. Dani Wilson, the school’s dedicated founder, struck out on her own and brought some of her old students and friends with her. Thus, The Learning Academy was born. It was a discombobulated but successful first year spent piecing together curriculum, supplies and teaching strategies, but students were happy, comfortable and, most importantly, thriving and learning so…we grew! The next year, with Kristin Johnson on board, we moved to a new space, gained more students and kept doing what we knew was right for students: meeting them where they are and letting them learn at their own pace. Believing that all students can learn and love learning has been the core upon which our now 70 student strong campus has grown.

Meet Our Amazing Staff

Danielle Wilson

Founder, Teacher, Curriculum Director
The Learning Academy of Teton Valley (LATV) began with Dani’s commitment and vision in 2004. She received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Child Development from Weber State University and has been teaching since 1998. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Dani can teach any child to read! She is an expert in teaching phonics and fosters a love a reading in even the most tentative and hesitant readers. Dani has a thousand tricks up her sleeve for teaching difficult math concepts too! When she’s not tirelessly working at the school, Dani loves to ride horses, read, play chess and spend time with her husband Todd and their children Brody, Jake, Aimee, and Kristen.

Kristin Johnson

Teacher, Grant Writer, Curriculum Coordinator
Kristin joined Dani in 2005 after receiving her Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Family Relations and then her Master of Arts in Teaching, both from The University of Maine. She has been teaching in a multi-age classroom for over 10 years and is a member of both the National Writing Project (NWP) and the National Art Education Association (NAEA). Kristin is the resident writing expert at LATV and inspires young writers and artists to create freely and let their imaginations run wild. She also takes our students exploring all over the country on year-end adventures. Kristin loves photography, painting, jewelry making, gardening, traveling, rock-climbing and skiing with her husband Larry, daughter Lila Wren and their two dogs, Ollie and Maya Bean.

Halina Hickey

Prekindergarten Teacher (ages 4-5)
Halina received her education in Biology from Warsaw Agricultural College in Poland, but switched gears when she moved to the United States over 20 years ago with her husband Tom. She has extensively studied the preschool greats Bev Boss and Maria Montessori and has spent nearly 20 years working with preschool aged children. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Her alumni can be found blowing away their Kindergarten teachers with their incredible reading skills. When she’s not nurturing young minds, she loves to spend time with Tom, her children Luke and Gina and their two mischievous Jack Russels, Cosmo and Charlie. She loves hiking and traveling, so that she can stay as close as possible to her family in Poland.

Lauren Griffin

Teacher, Physical Education and Wellness Instructor
Over Lauren’s fifteen-year teaching career, she has taught “littles” everything from horseback riding to reader’s workshop - fitness classes to young writers’ book publishing. She considers herself a passionate K-2 educator. Lauren moved to Jackson immediately after graduating from Troy University in Troy, Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in K-6 Elementary Education. She taught for the Teton County School District in Jackson, WY for ten years and then ran a small home school cooperative in Vermont for three years. Lauren and her family recently returned to their true home in Teton Valley, and she is thrilled to be back in the classroom. She considers herself the resident fitness expert at Learning Academy of Teton Valley and loves to inspire movement in her students in and out of the classroom. When not teaching, Lauren enjoys being outside with her family of boys as much as possible. Like many folks in Teton Valley, you will often find her in the mountains, at the gym, or adventuring in the community!

Abbey Davies

Preschool Teacher (Ages 3-4)
Abbey’s holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish from Willamette University. Her many years of experience working with children in different capacities coupled with her tender, nurturing demeanor make her the perfect preschool teacher. Her experience includes working as a classroom assistant in Head Start classrooms in Oregon, an assistant 1st grade teacher at an international school in Quito, Ecuador, a Field Instructor at Teton Science Schools, as well as assistant preschool positions. She is passionate about early childhood education and loves the imaginations and exploratory natures of this age group. Abbey loves hiking, kayaking, reading, baking, skiing and spending time with her friends.

Aimee Swensen

Science Enrichment
Aimee brings her inner mad scientist each time she visits The Learning Academy as part of our team of science enrichment teachers. Aimee has studied mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University. In addition to her work with Kid’s Science Labs in Chicago, Aimee has taught science and math in several schools throughout the country in one-on-one and classroom capacities. She has also worked several years as a lead teacher with The Learning Academy summer camps.

Kristen Anderson

Science Enrichment and Math Tutor
Kristen brings in-depth science knowledge to each enrichment lesson, creating excited young scientists with each session. With a background in engineering and mathematics and an Associates of Science in Engineering from North Seattle College, she is able to inspire students about the wonders of the worlds of science and mathematics.

Mel Paradis

The Learning Academy loves having Mel as their resident Drama Teacher. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Wisconsin Madison and a Post Baccalaureate Degree in Elementary Education from Western Governors University. Mel taught outdoor education prior to her classroom experiences at the Teton Valley Community School, Journeys School and Teton County School District #1. She has taught drama in the valley to preschool aged kids through adults since 2009. Mel’s love of drama began while performing in elementary school musicals. You can find her performing regularly on stage with Jackson’s resident improv troupe, The Laff Staff.

Gina Hickey

Paraprofessional and Lead Summer Camp Counselor
Gina has worked for the Learning Academy for several years. Her background and training in Child Development, as well as her experience as a nanny and childcare provider make her an excellent team member. She is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Gina stays active enjoying the splendor of Teton Valley with her golden retriever Chewie.

Tiffani Bennett

Office Manager
Tiffani has been a fixture at The Learning Academy for the past six years and we don’t know what we’d do without her! She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling Psychology both from Lewis & Clark University in Portland, Oregon. She played both Volleyball and Basketball while attending Lewis & Clark. Tiffani and her husband Kevin stay busy with their three amazing kids Hayden, Cameryn and Roman traveling to visit family in Oregon and Washington. In her spare time she loves to read, exercise and cook.

Todd Wilson

Founder, Board President, Living History Enrichment
Todd Wilson, Dani’s better half, is (among his many titles at The Learning Academy), our board president. He has been a successful business owner for over 20 years. He can be found doing everything from building castle walls to doing 18th century historical reenactments to making beeswax candles with the students. He is an integral part of the daily workings of the school. We couldn’t do what we do without Mr. Todd.

Steve Gentile

Administrator, Board Member
Steve Gentile is the Principal of Adams Elementary School. In addition to serving on the LATV school board, he works as our administrator in an advisory position. He has 16 years of experience in the education field. Steve has attended Berklee College of Music, Pennsylvania State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree, as well as Lewis and Clark State College where he earned his Elementary Education degree. He earned his Master’s Degree in Administration in 2008 and became an Assistant Principal at the Middle School. Since 2010 he has been the Principal at Adams Elementary School.