Meet Our Team

Leadership Team

Lisa Hester – Executive Director

Lisa Hester1Lisa has dedicated her career to working with children and has done so for more than 25 years. Her experience includes working for a state human services division where she worked with children in the welfare system, provided sexual abuse treatment, counseling and family mediation. She has also worked as a life skills coordinator and in a therapeutic foster care setting. Lisa completed her undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology with an emphasis in Social Work. She has worked towards obtaining her master’s in Social Work from the University of Denver and is a certified Mediator. When not on campus, Lisa can be found enjoying the abundance of outdoor activities our area provides including boating and exploring the back country. She also plays guitar for her own enjoyment and is learning to play the ukulele.

 

Charla Suppe, M.S. – Academic Director

Charla SuppeInspiring students, as much as they inspire her, guides Charla in her work on behalf of our students. She has more than 25 years of experience working in an academic setting. She has taught for most of those years and also held administrative roles as a principal for eight years and a vice principal for nine years. Charla received her undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University in English and participated in a Reading Specialist Program from St. Mary’s College. She is a credentialed teacher and holds a master’s degree in Special Education. In her spare time you’ll find her with her family and riding her Harley.

 

Dustin Cash, MS – Clinical Director

Dustin Cash, MSDusty brings compassion, empathy, honesty and leadership to his work with adolescents. He admires the energy of adolescents and their adaptability to change. He has devoted his career to helping guide teenagers through a process of self-awareness, character development, and insight through experiential and therapeutic experiences that provide them with the tools to make a fresh start. Dusty began working with adolescents in 2003. His experience includes working in a therapeutic boarding school, at a wilderness therapy program, and a residential treatment facility. As an avid outdoorsman, fly fisherman, and former college soccer player, Dusty believes strongly in incorporating experiential activities and other team building activities to facilitate transformative growth in adolescents and their families. He holds a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child and Family Development. Dusty lives in Sandpoint with his wife and daughter. When not working you can find him pursuing his passion for the outdoors through fly fishing, biking, backpacking, and hunting.

 

Jeff Miller – Dean of Students

Jeff MillerJeff’s unmatched organization, warmth and unshakable calm assist him in directing students to their appropriate places throughout each day. Hope, purpose, meaningfulness, and strength that young people start to experience when they find their hook is what inspires Jeff in his daily work and he has been shaping the lives of teens for over 18 years. Jeff has an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Boise State University. He is certified in CPR, first aid and motivational interviewing. When he’s not working, he can be found mountain biking, hiking and enjoying water activities with his wife and three sons.

 

Tiwi Nicks, M.Ed. – Director of Admissions

Tiwi NicksTiwi comes to Boulder Creek Academy from the public-school sector where she worked for a school district meeting the needs of diverse learners with autism, anxiety, ADHD, OCD and more. She led a team that helped facilitate the proper placement and/or accommodations and interventions for students. Her work in a traditional school environment has driven her keen interest in helping families faced with having a child that doesn’t fit in a specific societal box. And, as the mother of two daughters, she brings compassion and understanding to families wanting to provide their child with resources for leading a happy and well-adjusted life. Tiwi holds a master’s degree in Education from Arizona State University.

 

Katie Jochum – Director of Outreach and Business Development

Katie JochumKatie has been in the teen therapeutic program world for over twenty years. As an educational consultant, she was responsible for guiding and mentoring teens, young adults and their families through a variety of education options designed to help them reach their full academic and emotional growth potential. Her unique mix of technical and program expertise coupled with her compassionate and maternal nature allows her to develop long lasting relationships with students, families and industry professionals. Her passions include traveling and learning about and experiencing different cultures, hiking, camping, boating, spending time with and cooking for family and friends and reading a great book.  Katie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Marketing. 

 

Tai Komanec – Chief Executive Officer

Tai KomanecTai has been with Boulder Creek Academy since 1996. Through her years of experience, she has developed a solid understanding of the many factors involved in providing quality healthcare on our campus. Tai collaborates with regional, state and national agencies to ensure that we are following the most current healthcare standards. Her other responsibilities include recruiting and staff training. Tai holds an Associate’s Degree from Northern Arizona University/ Arizona Western College. She lives in Clark Fork, Idaho, with her husband and her daughter who recently began attending college. In her spare time Tai enjoys the outdoors, NASCAR, and reading.

 

Jolene Hubbard, CPA – Chief Financial Officer

Jolene HubbardJolene is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Idaho and while much of her work is done behind the scenes, it is her accounting strategies and financial savvy that keeps our daily operations running smoothly. Jolene’s experience includes owning and operating an accounting firm and working as an accounting manager. She holds an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. She is the mother of two boys and when not working can be found reading classic books, running, hiking, horseback riding, and baking with her children. Her specialty is gourmet cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache, coconut, or Boston Cream.

 

Academic Team

Charla Suppe, M.S. – Academic Director

Charla SuppeInspiring students, as much as they inspire her, guides Charla in her work on behalf of our students. She has more than 25 years of experience working in an academic setting. She has taught for most of those years and also held administrative roles as a principal for eight years and a vice principal for nine years. Charla received her undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University in English and participated in a Reading Specialist Program from St. Mary’s College. She is a credentialed teacher and holds a master’s degree in Special Education. In her spare time you’ll find her with her family and riding her Harley.

 

Valerie Thompson, M.Ed.- English Teacher

Valerie ThompsonIn her sixteen years at Boulder Creek Academy, Val has had the privilege of organizing and developing curricula for our English and literature courses. Her role as Curriculum Coordinator provides her with the opportunity to collaborate with Clinical Services and Life Skills to create an integrated, dynamic approach that challenges and empowers our students to reach their academic potentials. She approaches teaching as a straightforward, honest, talkative, and empathic mentor who provides a roadmap for students as they navigate the academic world. Valerie enjoys research and presentation opportunities, sharing classroom strategies and approaches with educators, administrators, and consultants in regional and national presentations and workshops. Her favorite modes of teaching include what she refers to as a “guided constructivist” approach to Socratic inquiry, presentation, direct instruction, and role playing. She works with individuals to change their perspectives on learning, focusing on each student’s unique needs and literary “story,” while delivering an anchoring curriculum to the class as a whole. Val received a bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho.

 

Alan Monk, MA – PE Teacher

Alan MonkAlan received his master’s degree from George Fox University and his undergraduate degree at Portland State University. At Boulder Creek Academy he relishes the opportunity that the smaller class sizes allow for building relationships and having the time to provide individual support and encouragement to students. Alan’s background includes coaching varsity golf, serving as a professional mentor, and being a ski/snowboard advisor. He is also a fly-fishing instructor, guitar instructor and certified English teacher. When not teaching you’ll find him fly fishing or tying flies.

 

Robert Gonzales – Social Science Teacher

Rob Gonzales webRobert has been working with children for 10 years and enjoys bringing humor and advice into the lives of his students. As a substitute teacher in California, he has taught kindergarten to high school and enjoys hearing all of the kids’ stories and insights. Robert has his undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego and his credentials include secondary schools teaching certificate, trauma informed care training, attachment disorder training and CPR certification. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son and doing all things outdoors. Robert also enjoys coaching basketball and loves to check out new recipes for inspiring home meals.

 

Jeff Demeny – Math Teacher

Jeff Demeny
Jeff brings the practical application of math to students at Boulder Creek Academy. He utilized math for 32 years working as an engineer and manager in the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Field for companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Scott’s Miracle Gro. He also taught math in Ohio. Jeff volunteers regularly at the United Way and has done so more than 30 years. He also gives his time to the American Heart Association. Education: Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Inspiration: To help young people. I was raised that it is important to give back. I have been very fortunate in my life and I want to give back to help adolescents achieve success. I come to work each day eager to help my students learn Math and maybe a few life skills along the way. Passion: Spending time with my wife, playing with our four dogs and a cat, reading, playing guitar, Sudoku puzzles, gardening, NASCAR racing and spending time in nature. Guilty Pleasure: My wife’s homemade Buckeyes – a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate with a little peanut butter showing. Favorite Morning Beverage: Black coffee Quote to Live By:My father told me once that you have to live for today. He said “Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is not promised, so live for today.”

 

Darcy Sletager – Art Teacher

Darcy SletagerDarcy has been working with adolescents since 1997. She enjoys the energy and resiliency of our students and the opportunity to be part of helping them transition into young adults. Her experience includes working at an acute adolescent treatment center, with children through YMCA, and in a private school setting. Darcy earned her bachelor’s degree from Boise State University. In her free time, she spends a lot of time shuffling kids from one sporting event to another. She is mother to three amazing daughters, her super hero toddler son, two dogs, and two cats.

 

Julie Williams, Ph.D. – Vocational Ed. Teacher

Julie Williams, Ph.D.Julie brings experience and a love of learning through to Boulder Creek Academy. Her professional career spans more than twenty years and has taken her through a variety of academic settings and roles from classroom teacher to counselor, administrator, and adjunct professor. Following her public school foundation in Troy, Montana, her post-secondary education started with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Stanford University. She obtained a master’s from Goddard College and both her Educational Specialist degree and doctorate from the University of Idaho. She obtained her Secondary Principal Endorsement from Northwest Nazarene University. In her spare time Julie enjoys reading, traveling, outdoor pursuits, spending time with her family and is an avid golfer and fisherwoman.

 

Learning Center Team

Martha Jones, M.Ed. – Reading Specialist

Martha JonesMartha Jones is Boulder Creek’s Reading Specialist. She has a vast array of experience. Her teaching credentials include General Subjects, Learning and Severely Handicapped, Resource Specialist, and Reading Specialist. Her work as a special education coordinator for a Special Education Instructional Materials Center resulted in thirty schools having access to more than 10,000 special education instructional materials. She has more than 20 years experience working as a Resource Specialist for a California school district. Here Martha was responsible for creating a Reading Center that aided with more than 70 students daily. After retiring from the Coachella Valley USD in California, they hired her back as a consultant. She finally bid farewell to California, and she and her husband moved to Naples, Idaho, in March of 2005. It was then that she joined the Boulder Creek Academy team and has continued her work on behalf of exceptional students. She earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education from the University of Oklahoma. She holds a Reading Specialist certification from Central State University.

 

Clinical and Life Skills Team

Dr. Alan S. Unis, M.D. – Psychiatrist

Alan S. UnisDr. Unis is our licensed independent physician who has focused his practice on utilizing opportunities to study the early stages of mental illness in children and to minimize the impact of such illnesses upon their lives. His expansive knowledge stems from his professional background and the experience he has acquired. He fulfilled a Mead Johnson Fellowship with the American College of Neuro-Psychopharmacology and earned the prestigious Thomas H. Holmes Scholarship, which he used at the University of Washington to enhance his knowledge of research and psychiatry practices. Dr. Unis is a member of the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. His work has been recognized by his nomination as one of the Best Doctors in America. Dr. Unis earned his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. He fulfilled a fellowship program in Neuropharmacology at the University of Utah Health Care, and a residency and fellowship in general, child and adolescent psychiatry at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), University of Pittsburgh. In addition, he became accredited as a diplomat in child and adolescent psychiatry and as a diplomat in general psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

 

Dustin Cash, MS – Clinical Director

Dustin Cash, MSDusty brings compassion, empathy, honesty and leadership to his work with adolescents. He admires the energy of adolescents and their adaptability to change. He has devoted his career to helping guide teenagers through a process of self-awareness, character development, and insight through experiential and therapeutic experiences that provide them with the tools to make a fresh start. Dusty began working with adolescents in 2003. His experience includes working in a therapeutic boarding school, at a wilderness therapy program, and a residential treatment facility. As an avid outdoorsman, fly fisherman, and former college soccer player, Dusty believes strongly in incorporating experiential activities and other team building activities to facilitate transformative growth in adolescents and their families. He holds a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Child and Family Development. Dusty lives in Sandpoint with his wife and daughter. When not working you can find him pursuing his passion for the outdoors through fly fishing, biking, backpacking, and hunting.

 

Kim Carey, LCSW – Senior Therapist

Kim CareyKim has been trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, and Seeking Safety. She has worked as a therapist at an inpatient substance abuse treatment center and in both public and state run adolescent treatment centers. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in Social Work and her master’s of Social Work from Eastern Washington University. Family time is the most important and rewarding for Kim and in her free-time can be found spending time in the beautiful outdoors of Northern Idaho, cooking, doing crafts and reading books with her son.

 

Jared Sartell, LCSW – Senior Therapist

Jared SartellJared’s approach with students is relationship-based. He builds on this connection to help students come to understand their own value and develop healthy skills and positive passions. His areas of specialty include anxiety, adoption/attachment, and sexual offending behavior. Jared has worked with children and adolescents in a variety of settings including therapeutic boarding schools, juvenile probation and parole, and individual and family counseling with a private agency. Jared holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Social Work from Eastern Washington University. He is licensed in the State of Idaho in Social Work and is a trained Search and Rescuer. When not working with our students, Jared can be found playing with his wife and two daughters in the outdoors. Favorite activities include fly fishing, backpacking, mountain biking and archery.

 

Rob Rossi, LCSW – Clinical Therapist

Rob RossiRob’s approach to working with students is solution focused. He frequently utilizes DBT skills, mindfulness trainings and creative interventions in expression such as dramatic arts or sculpture to reach students. Prior to joining the Boulder Creek Academy team Rob worked at a therapeutic boarding school in Montana. He has also spend a good portion of his career working in the wilderness therapy arena where he worked as a wilderness therapist, assistant lead field mentor and guide. Rob holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota where his clinical focus was on non-voluntary clients, adolescents, and the wilderness milieu. His undergraduate degree is in Theatre from Morehead State University. He is a licensed Clinical Social Worker. He is an accomplished speaker and trainer. Recent presentations included “Improvisation as a tool for meeting clients where they are at and getting out of your own way.” And, “Therapy slam: using creativity and self-expression to build autonomy and emotional IQ.”

 

Lynn Marshall, Psy.D. – Clinical Therapist

Lynn MarshallLynn draws on her extensive experience in child and adolescent development and brings optimism, passion, humor, and kindness to her work with Boulder Creek Academy students and their families. She specializes in clinical assessment and diagnosis, anxiety, depression, self-harm and childhood trauma. She has participated in trainings on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), parent-child psychotherapy and suicide assessment. Lynn holds a doctorate and master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology. Inspiration: She appreciates the challenge of understanding each student’s unique life story and finding the key components that can support them in building a life they want to live. Passion: When not working Lynn can be found playing with her son and daughter. She enjoys taking the family hiking, climbing, camping and skiing and basically doing anything that involves being outside. She also loves reading and learning about new things. Favorite Morning Beverage: Chia Tea or decaf coffee with LOTS of creamer! Guilty Pleasure: Dark Chocolate Milky Way candy bar. Quote to Live By: “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” – Bob Marley

 

Jeanne Racer, LMSW – Clinical Therapist

Jeanne RacerJeanne is energetic as well as patient and has years of experience working with adolescents in therapeutic residential settings. She specializes in helping children and families to achieve safety and stability in the reunification process as well as with families that have dual diagnosis within the family unit. She began her career working with teenagers at a wilderness therapy program. In addition she has worked in therapeutic group home settings as well as therapeutic boarding schools. Most recently she worked with children and families at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Jeanne received her master’s degree in Social Work from Boise State University and her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Lewis Clark State College. She is a licensed Master Social Worker. Relevant trainings include: Truth Based Relational Intervention, Family Centered Service Planning, Motivational Interviewing, Family Group Decision Making, Cultural Humility, Substance Addiction and Treatment, and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Jeanne possesses an Eagala certification for Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy.

 

Jeff Miller – Dean of Students

Jeff MillerJeff’s unmatched organization, warmth and unshakable calm assist him in directing students to their appropriate places throughout each day. Hope, purpose, meaningfulness, and strength that young people start to experience when they find their hook is what inspires Jeff in his daily work and he has been shaping the lives of teens for over 18 years. Jeff has an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Boise State University. He is certified in CPR, first aid and motivational interviewing. When he’s not working, he can be found mountain biking, hiking and enjoying water activities with his wife and three sons.

 

Jeremy Huisentruit – Team Manager

Jeremy HuisentruitJeremy has worked with adolescents for more than 10 years. He values the opportunity to witness our students as they begin to respond in a positive way to the structure clear boundaries we create for them at Boulder Creek Academy. Jeremy graduated from the University of Montana and also holds a wilderness first responder certification. When not working, you can find Jeremy fly fishing, hiking, camping, and playing racquetball. In the winter he enjoys cross country skiing and snowmobiling.

 

Admissions Team

Tiwi Nicks, M.Ed. – Director of Admissions

Tiwi NicksTiwi comes to Boulder Creek Academy from the public-school sector where she worked for a school district meeting the needs of diverse learners with autism, anxiety, ADHD, OCD and more. She led a team that helped facilitate the proper placement and/or accommodations and interventions for students. Her work in a traditional school environment has driven her keen interest in helping families faced with having a child that doesn’t fit in a specific societal box. And, as the mother of two daughters, she brings compassion and understanding to families wanting to provide their child with resources for leading a happy and well-adjusted life. Tiwi holds a master’s degree in Education from Arizona State University.

 

Dean Schillinger – Admissions Counselor

Dean SchillingerDean has spent his career assisting people in unique settings. Prior to starting as the Admissions Counselor, Dean worked across multiple domains within Boulder Creek Academy. His experience as Logistics Coordinator, Adventure Education Guide, and Student Life Counselor allows him to speak directly to the student experience, putting him in a unique position to provide support to new students and families. Dean holds a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, Marketing and Advertising which contributes to the creativity and organization he brings to the admissions team.

 

Equine Skills Staff

Feathers – Behavior Specialist

FeathersFeathers takes her work seriously and enjoys working with BCA students. Feathers specializes in teaching students about attitude, self-control, and how her rider’s feelings transfer to her while in the ring. She is inspired by students who are calm, relaxed and practicing patience with her. In her spare time, she likes to hang with her other horse buddies and share tips about student behaviors over a game of swish your tail.

 

Tater Tot – Director of Hay

Tater Tot
Tater Tot is our 13 year old Haflinger/quarter horse cross. He is our newest equine staff member and his responsibilities include training students to horse-back ride and the keys to positive animal communication. His calm demeanor and dry sense of humor make him a student favorite and his Tot’s hobbies include hay tasting and reviewing, horse fashion blogging and Scrabble.

 

Tux – Communication Director

Tux

As our Equine Communication Director, Tux specializes in communication and teaching students the value of reading body language. He is 17, which he finds beneficial in allowing him to find common ground with our 13-18 year old student body. Tux was a professional show horse for 13 years where he learned that it’s not about what you look like, it’s about who you are on the inside.

 

Moonshadow Agate – Fashion Director

Moonshadow AgateMoonshadow Agate is the newest member of our equine therapy staff. She is a 17 year old registered Quarter horse and has spent the majority of her career teaching in the adolescent therapeutic community. Her friendly demeanor, unusual smoky gray coloring and dorsal stripe have earned her the unofficial title of Fashion Director. Aggie is always up for a chat and, being a teenager herself, finds she has much in common with our students and their many interests. In her spare time, Aggie can be found hanging out at the local feed store and blogging about the latest equine fashion trends.