Faculty and Staff
Founder & Head of School
Sean Bierle has lived all over the world and loves to travel. He has been working in the outdoor industry since 2000 and has lead and taught in Idaho, California, North Carolina, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Chile. He has been a teacher in both traditional public schools and public charter schools, as well as an adjunct professor at the university level. He has lead outdoor programs for private boarding high schools and lead courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Sean earned his B.S. in Entomology from the University of Florida and his M.A. in Education from Boise State University. He is a certified Wilderness EMT, Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Advanced), ACA Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer, and Leave No Trace Master Educator. Read Sean’s Welcome Letter, Email Sean Bierle or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 701.
Founder & Executive Director
Kristin Bierle grew up reciting Shakespeare while rappelling into caves and has sought to integrate academics, outdoor adventure, and cultural exchange ever since. Born and raised in North Carolina, Kristin began working out west on rivers during high school and eventually moved west for college. Kristin is an International Baccalaureate graduate, earned her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Economics, Education, and Spanish) and her Masters in Business Administration from Boise State University. Kristin was selected as the outstanding student of her graduating MBA class. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Advanced), ACA Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer, and Leave No Trace Master Educator. Email Kristin Bierle or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 700.
Director of Studies
Originally from McCall, Idaho, Laura has taught Spanish, English Language Learners, and adults in education programs for 10 years. She received a B.A. in Comparative Sociology from University of Puget Sound and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Westminster College, where she also taught as an adjunct professor for the School of Education. In addition to teaching, Laura is passionate about rivers and travel. She has been a wilderness river guide for 15 years, and spent four years teaching, guiding, and surfing in Latin America. Outside of Alzar, Laura enjoys time outdoors with her husband Neal and baby boy Lucas. Email Laura Bechdel or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 703.
Director of Admissions
Nick grew up outside of Minneapolis where he quickly was introduced to lakes, canoes, and spending as much time outside in his neighborhood as possible. While studying Native American Studies and Sociology at Northland College, he further developed his passion for the outdoors working as a sea kayak guide in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. When not traveling the country meeting wonderful families and inspiring students Nick loves to paddle, bike, fish…really anything that gets him outside and exploring. Prior to joining the Alzar School team, Nick was an Associate Director of Admissions at his alma mater, Northland College. Email Nick Kunath or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 708.
Director of Advancement & Food Director
Anita Cussler was born and raised in McCall, Idaho where she first developed a passion for the outdoors and thirst for adventure. Anita earned her B.S. in Natural Science and Environmental Policy from the University of Puget Sound. She has traveled extensively and has lived in British Columbia, Canada for four years where she immersed herself in outdoor activities ranging from helicopter mountain bike trips to backcountry split-boarding treks. Working as a trained chef, Anita combines her culinary mastery with environmental stewardship by promoting sustainable food choices. In her spare time, Anita can be found fixing fence on her farm or exploring the vast opportunities Idaho’s mountains, trails and rivers have to offer. Email Anita Cussler or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 704.
Administrative Assistant & Food Assistant
Kim grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California at Irvine with an English degree. She moved to Idaho with her husband seventeen years ago and loves living and raising their five kids in the small mountain town of Cascade. She enjoys camping, boating, hiking, photography, writing, cooking, reading and hanging out with her family. Email Kim or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 702.
Admissions and Marketing AssociateAs an alum of one of the schools initial summer F.L.O.W. programs, Jami is thrilled to be a part of the Alzar School team once again as an admissions and marketing associate. Growing up in Boise, she spent much of her summers in the mountains and rivers of Idaho. Jami attended Saint Mary’s College of California, where she graduated with a B.S. in Psychology. During her time at SMC she participated in the schools dance company, studied abroad in London for a year, worked as co-president of Habitat for Humanity on campus, and worked at a local Montessori School. She also spent a summer working for the Department of Environmental Quality backpacking and scouting out rivers and streams all over Idaho, gaining a renewed appreciation for Idaho, and is very happy to be back in her Idahome. Email Jami or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 709.
Lead Facilities and Vehicle Caretaker
Mick Riffie joined the Alzar School to ensure our beautiful base campus is the optimal environment for students. Previously, he has worked in building and remodeling homes, on trail crews, and as a river guide and ranger. Email Mick Riffie or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 707.
Herk Cole was born and raised in Cascade, Idaho. He loves sharing the history of Valley County, hiking to as many as 6 mountain lakes in one day, and sharing Werther’s caramels. He is an avid catarafter and skier. He has built all of the student bunks, helped assemble a yurt, and works tirelessly to maintain our gorgeous campus.
Food PreparationMarilyn grew up in San Francisco, California. She spent many years in the Sacramento Valley. After loving several summers in Cascade, her husband encouraged them to take a risk and move their family to Idaho three years ago. She loves spending time with her husband and two kids, watching sporting events (especially Oregon Duck football games) and going to concerts. She also enjoys baking for her friends and family. In the summer you can find her on the beach reading or on her 4-wheeler exploring West Mountain Road.
Director of Expeditions and Risk Management & Roam Summer Course Director
Kori’s lifelong pursuit of adventure has led her to the ends of the Earth, as far as the North Pole. Since 1996, she has thrived on sharing growth experiences with her students, the most impactful being whitewater paddling, skiing, leadership, and service. She has lead courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School, the World Leadership School, Johns Hopkins University, and trained instructors at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. She has taught outdoor activities in France, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Hong Kong, China, Australia, New Zealand, Belize, and Chile. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Education from California State University, Chico and is currently a candidate for a Master’s of Science in Natural Resources and Society from the University of Idaho. She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder, Swift water Rescue Technician, ACA Kayak Instructor, and Leave No Trace Master Educator. Kori is known for her infectious enthusiasm and positivity. Email Kori Richards or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 706.
Mathematics | Expedition Food Coordinator
Jonathan was born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. He was introduced to rivers and mountains an early age and has shaped his life around them ever since. Jonathan studied mathematics and education at UNC-Asheville as part of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program. He has been leading outdoor education trips, raft guiding, and working in the ski industry in California and Colorado the past four years. Jonathan is excited to combine his passion for the outdoors with his passion for teaching at the Alzar School. Email Jonathan Absher or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 711.
Dean of Students | History
A recent migrant to Idaho, Michael Ervin comes to the Alzar School from the mountains of western North Carolina. After graduating from UNC-Asheville with a Bachelor’s degree in history, Michael pursued a graduate education at UNC-Charlotte. While in Charlotte, Michael’s research and writing focused principally on Civil Rights activism in the mid-twentieth century American South. While completing his degree, Michael taught courses for UNC-Charlotte’s Prospect for Success program, which helped acclimate first year students to college-level research and writing practices. In addition to his academic pursuits, Michael is also an avid whitewater kayaker, mountain biker, and backpacker. Professionally, Michael has guided rafts and inflatable kayaks for five seasons on various rivers in Alaska, Georgia, and North Carolina. Email Michael Ervin or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 705.
Capstone Leadership Course | Blog Coordinator
John has worked as an outdoor educator with Teton Science School and has led backpacking, climbing, and kayaking trips near Jackson, Wyoming. John graduated with a B.A. from Colby College with a double major in Government and Global Studies, with concentrations in Development and Latin America. While at Colby, John oversaw 500+ volunteers for the as Director of the Colby Volunteer Center, worked as a writing tutor, and served as President of the Colby Outing Club. John also speaks Spanish and studied abroad in Valparaíso, Chile. He completed a teaching fellowship at the Alzar School in Fall 2016. Email John Bengtson or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 715.
English and Environmental Science
Reed Wommack studied Earth and Environmental Science at Dartmouth College, where he was active in the kayaking program. Since graduating, he has taught at the Swiss Semester, coached competitive skiing, and worked for wilderness therapy programs in Alaska. Email Reed Wommack or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 712.
Spanish | Yurt Advocate
Kira grew up in the rainy and beautiful Washington State. She first discovered her love for Spanish and the connecting power of language in high school when she lived and worked in rural Nicaragua for a summer. Since then, she has sought out opportunities to travel, explore, and learn about different cultures, working in Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and most recently, Peru. Kira studied biology at Carleton College in Minnesota, and since graduating, has worked in a variety of experiential and environmental educational organizations in both student services and teaching roles. Kira is excited to be a part of the Alzar community and teaching team to facilitate student growth and learning. Email Kira Faller or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 716.
Spanish and World History | Yurt Advocate
Colin Hull grew up in North Carolina and Massachusetts, and learned his outdoor skills at programs like Camp Mondamin and Adventure Treks. He studied history at Colby College, and returned as a staff member at Camp Mondamin, Camp High Rocks, and Adventure Treks before joining the Alzar School as a teaching fellow. He loves to whitewater kayak, and spent a semester studying abroad in Spain. Email Colin Hull or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 713.
Science and Math | Outdoor Program Assistant
Syver Pearson was born in Colorado, journeyed through the Pacific Northwest, ultimately landing in Anchorage, Alaska. Syver has been shaped by natural landscapes. Having spent so much time kayaking, a rumor once started that he can breathe under water. Syver studied Botany at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His passion for natural places, learning, and trying new things is contagious. Syver has been an instructor for the Northwest Outward Bound School, ski instructor at Mt. Bachelor, Adventure Out LLC (single pitch climbing guide), UC Santa Cruz Recreation, Whitewater Voyages, Oars, and more. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Pro). Email Syver Pearson or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 714.
Math and Science | Medical Program Assistant
Michael grew up in the Boston area, and was first introduced to the outdoors at a summer camp in the Northwoods area when he was in third grade. From then on, he was hooked on wilderness travel: he returned to the same camp for six summers as a camper and three summers as staff. Michael went on to lead rafting and backpacking expeditions, and has worked as a river guide and kayak instructor. He graduated from Whitman College and taught math and science for three years prior to Alzar School. Michael is a WEMT, and is passionate about education and the outdoors. He likes to learn about local natural and human history, reads avidly, and enjoys kayaking, mountain biking, and trail running. Email Michael Jorgensen or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 718.
Residential and Expeditionary Faculty
From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Cascades, whitewater has been a central part of Lee’s life for twenty years. She first learned to kayak at Camp Illahee in Brevard, NC, where she now spends her summers teaching other young women to appreciate the challenges and camaraderie offered by the river. Lee graduated from Sewanee with a B.A. in English Literature, and concentrations in Spanish and Photography. After seven years of working with youth in the outdoors and roaming through the wild places of the western US, Argentina, and New Zealand, Lee returned to Brevard College to earn a teaching license in secondary English Language Arts. In addition to literature, whitewater, and travel, she enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, cooking, and photography. Email Lee Timmons.
Teaching Fellow: Chemistry
Molly Billings is originally from Maine but recently graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio. While at Wooster, Molly majored in chemistry and minored in environmental studies. She wrote her senior thesis on incorporating environmental chemistry into high school chemistry classes. Molly became passionate about the environment at a young age—she grew up canoeing, sea kayaking, and hiking. For the past five summers, she has worked at a wilderness tripping camp and has led a wide array of backcountry trips in Maine and New Hampshire. Molly’s activity of choice is backpacking, which she has done in Maine, Colorado, and Florida. She is excited to be exploring Idaho and Chile with the Alzar School family! Email Molly Billings or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 719.
Teaching Fellow: Biology
Jack grew up exploring the prairies and lakes of his native Lake Forest, Illinois, playing classical guitar for his four siblings, and adventuring to northern Ontario on fishing trips with his father. Jack studied biology and philosophy at Colby College, and led numerous backpacking and rock climbing trips in the north woods of Maine and beyond as the president of the Colby College Mountaineering Club. He has spent time speaking Spanish with family friends in Latin America, working in botany with the BLM in New Mexico, and serving as a teaching apprentice at High Mountain Institute in Colorado. Jack is passionate about supporting students to think critically and act thoughtfully! Email Jack Lynch or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 719.
Teaching Fellow: Math
Jeffrey grew up below sea level in New Orleans, Louisiana before falling in love with the mountains and wild places in our country. Jeffrey studied geology at Sewanee: The University of the South and has always been interested in the evolution of landscapes. At Sewanee he was an active member of the outdoor program and led trips across the country. Following graduation, Jeffrey has worked at the Murie Center in Grand Teton National Park and has led outdoor trips for teenagers in California. In his free time, you will find him outside hiking and rock climbing or inside drinking coffee and whittling. Email Jeffrey Prado or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 719.
Teaching Fellow: Environmental Science
Nadia grew up in Iowa loving science and wildlife as a kid. After studying Animal Ecology at Iowa State University, she worked as an outdoor education instructor and program administrator in Texas. Her love of the mountains soon led her to North Carolina, where she led whitewater paddling trips and taught with an environmental education non-profit. Nadia loves seeing people discover and experience the world around them. Some of her favorite things are forests, thunderstorms, frogs, and sunshine. She spends as much time outside as she can continuing to learn, play, and grow. Email Nadia Razavi or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 719.
Teaching Fellow: Spanish
Hayley first learned to whitewater kayak with the traveling high school New River Academy, when she was sixteen. The sport has become her main passion in life, taking her all over North and South America, and also to Africa. In addition to kayaking, Hayley also enjoys skiing, rock climbing, hiking, dancing, and cooking. She received a dual degree in Environmental Science and Spanish from the University of Denver in November 2016. Raised in the suburbs of New York, her family moved to Ketchum, Idaho in 2012, and they couldn’t be happier. Email Hayley Stuart or call at +1(833) 862-5927 x 719.
Join Our Staff
Alzar School is currently accepting applications for positions. Job postings can be viewed here. Alzar School also accepts resumes for positions on our team on a rolling basis, including the teaching fellow program.