High School

DRIVING CHANGE IN THE WORLD

Projects, Multiple Viewpoints and Enacting Positive Change

Our project based approach to teaching and learning frames projects on interdisciplinary, meaningful, and current real world problems. Students have the opportunity to explore current issues by speaking with a diverse range of experts and consulting sources that articulate a variety of viewpoints. Students explore media literacy and critical thinking as they evaluate and make sense of divergent perspectives on the specific issues they choose to dive deeper into, while connecting these issues to curricular content and skills. Speaking with experts and communities impacted by these issues allows them to generate a more nuanced understanding of content, with empathy. By investigating the larger context of the issues they are exploring, students engage in a design process to iterate, prototype and test possible solutions, towards doing or producing positive change. With constant feedback from peers, teachers and experts, students revise, reflect and tell the story of their learning journey, failures, successes and major discoveries.

Making a Positive Impact in the World

In the fall of 2016, the senior class of Tahoe Expedition Academy was asked to design a class service trip on their own. As a crew, they decided that with the turmoil in the Middle East and the refugee crisis in Europe, they would travel to Greece to volunteer with PRAKSIS, a non governmental organization that provides social and medical services for refugees. The goal of the trip was to understand and help refugees forced to flee their own country to find safety elsewhere.

At the culmination their Learning Expedition titled “Move, Adapt, or Die: The Life and Times of a Syrian Refugee,” students produced this short documentary film, which illustrates the challenges of current Syrian refugees in Greece. They also created a Facebook page to spread awareness of the plight of refugees in Greece and to support the PRAKSIS aid organization and all of the volunteers they met along the way. If you are interested in supporting PRAKSIS, their donation portal is here with details on how your support would be used.

HIGH SCHOOL ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING - FOUNDATIONS COURSES

These classes are directly aligned with National Standards for the core content areas (Math, Science, History, English). These classes include individually-paced opportunities as well as one-on-one and small group instruction. Teachers target specific skills within these classes to support Real-World Projects through foundational class content.

MEET OUR AMAZING HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS

Our faculty and staff empower students to question, think, explore and lead. Relationships between our students and teachers are paramount to creating a community of care, service, and commitment. To learn more about our faculty and staff please click below.

Carolyn Highland
Carolyn Highland
Loren Trux
Merinda Zywicz
Andy Giordano
Heather H. Roenspie
Carrie Haines
Katy Watts
Ana Sofia Remis
Eric Martin
Greg Wright

Carolyn Highland

Loren Trux

Merinda Zywicz

Andy Giordano

Heather H. Roenspie

Carrie Haines

Katy Watts

Ana Sofia Remis

Eric Martin

Greg Wright

Carolyn Highland bio

Carolyn Highland | Middle and High School Humanities Teacher + 6/7th Crew Leader

Carolyn grew up on the Maine coast, and has been slowly moving west ever since. She got her BA in Creative Writing & Spanish at Northwestern University in 2012, then moved to the Colorado to pursue a MA in Education at the University of Denver in 2015. Carolyn spent 3 years teaching in a bilingual 4th grade classroom in Denver Public Schools, then 3 years teaching 4th grade & coaching the biathlon team at TEA.

Carolyn is a 4-time NOLS grad, having completed a semester course in New Zealand in 2012, an Outdoor Educator course in Wyoming in 2019 and several WFR recertification courses over the years. She spent many summers leading international & domestic trips for teenagers with Adventures Cross Country. Any spare second she can get, Carolyn can be found backcountry skiing, trail running, mountain biking, backpacking or multi-sporting–she is a particular fan of long-distance sufferfests.

She is also an author and a freelance writer with work published in Backcountry Magazine, The Ski Journal, the WildSnow & NOLS blogs, and the Teton Gravity Research website. Her first book, Out Here: Wisdom from the Wilderness was released by Rocky Mountain Books in 2020 and is available at Word After Word in Truckee!

What inspired you to join TEA? I love the opportunities for creativity at TEA (both for teachers & students!), as well as the holistic approach to education. Getting to help students push themselves beyond their perceived limits, explore what they’re passionate about, and engage with real-world issues is such a gift!

Where did you go to school? BA in Creative Writing, Northwestern University 2012, MA in Education, University of Denver 2015

Do you have any special certifications? WFR since 2015, AIARE Rec Level 2, Endorsement in teaching culturally & linguistically diverse populations

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I used to work for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s hut system in New Hampshire, and got to live in a hut up on Mt. Washington for a fall season!

Loren Trux bio

Loren Trux | Middle and High School Math & Science Coach + Crew Leader

Loren earned his California Multiple subject Teaching Credential from Chico State University and is currently working toward a Waldorf teaching certificate. During his most recent teaching experiences in Waldorf education he discovered many alternative methods for reading instruction and teaching techniques. Loren discovered his passion for working with children at a day camp in Tahoe City more than fifteen years ago and is very excited to be doing what he loves in Tahoe once again. He is eager to learn more about the expeditionary model and looks forward to sharing his ideas with the communiTEA.

He also enjoys many outdoor activities including mountain biking, kayaking, fishing and exploring nature with his family. Loren likes to play music and work making things with his hands. He lives in Kings Beach with his wife Ashley and daughter Iyla. Loren believes that a teacher’s task is to help each student reach their greatest potential. To do this he must be a guide, and companion in the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit should be authentic for the student and teacher.

What inspired you to join TEA? The opportunity to help kids reach their greatest potential.

Where did you go to school? California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Chico State University

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I am an avid blacksmith and teach a blacksmithing class at TEA’s summer camp.

Merinda Zywicz Bio

Merinda Zywicz | Middle and High School Spanish & Humanities Coach + Crew Leader

Merinda is from California and grew up spending time exploring and playing in the Sierras. She studied International Development with a focus on Latin America and Political Ecology. Her studies focused on trying to find solutions that balance the social, environmental and economic needs of the world, which makes her very excited to be at TEA where students grapple with those problems regularly. She has spent time working with non-profits that tackle these challenges in Ecuador, Chile and Costa Rica.

Prior to working at TEA, Merinda worked as a ski instructor and naturalist in Tahoe. These jobs helped her realize her passion for teaching kids in settings where they are empowered to learn through their own experiences and pursue their curiosities. Merinda also spent a year in Madrid, Spain where she studied Spanish and worked as an au pair to foster language acquisition for the three young girls in the family.

Teaching Spanish at TEA is a culmination of many of Merinda’s personal interest and she is excited to share her passion for the value of language with the students. Outside of TEA Merinda loves to ski, run, climb, bike and generally take advantage of the outdoor opportunities in Tahoe.

What inspired you to join TEA? TEA’s approach towards framing learning as a way of tackling real world problems as well as their acknowledgment of the value of learning through experiences.

Where did you go to school?  University of California Berkeley, Bachelors in International Development with a focus on Political Ecology in Latin America

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I have skied in more countries than states.

Andy Giordano Bio

Andy Giordano | Middle and High School Science Teacher + 9/10th Crew Leader

Andy is excited to be teaching upper school science and leading 9th-10th grade crew at TEA. Andy cultivated his experience in education over the course of 14 years in independent schools where he served variously as a science and photography teacher, department chair, residential life staff, Director of Experiential Ed and Dean of Students. He is focused on connecting students with their own curiosity and fostering self-awareness under the guiding principle that safety and challenge must coexist in the learning environment. He excels at pushing students to contextualize their experience in pursuit of their goals. Andy’s focus in the classroom is to continually push core understandings in science by drawing together big ideas. He asks students to develop the ability to make observations, ask scientific questions, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and create scientific arguments. In this way students develop scientific habits of mind while building confidence and independence.

What inspired you to join TEA? I’m inspired to be a part of a learning community that shares my goals and values. I’m excited for the opportunity to innovate in the classroom, to explore unifying through lines across the student experience, and the constant pursuit of growth and collaboration.

Where did you go to school? I earned a BS in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an MS in Zoology from Washington State University.

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I love tying flies. There is nothing quite as satisfying to me as the combination of art, science and sport. It’s also quite funny to watch big old me tying tiny little flies.

Heather H. Roenspie | MS & HS Humanities

Heather was born and raised in Rocklin, CA. After she graduated from high school, she moved to Soda Springs to work, live, and learn to snowboard at Sugar Bowl. After two full-seasons living on the summit and several bone breaks, Heather switched trajectories and enrolled herself at San Francisco State University, where she knew she wanted to study philosophy and deepen her self-awareness by getting outside of her comfort zones and learning from the “great book of the world.” Heather’s time at San Francisco State University was well spent, she earned her B.A. in Philosophy and World Religions and her M.A. in Philosophy and perhaps more importantly, Heather did grow tremendously as a human-being. After college, Heather wanted to share her love of learning and self-cultivation with others. So naturally, she sought out a profession as a philosophy teacher. To date, Heather has taught philosophy and world religions courses at San Francisco State University, Diablo Valley College, Canada College, and Sierra College. Additionally, Heather holds a Social Science teaching credential and has spent several years working for Placer County Office of Education here in Truckee at the Tahoe-Truckee Community School. Regardless, if Heather is teaching philosophy at the college level or teaching middle school and highschool, her professional goal remains the same: to guide and encourage all learners towards becoming open-minded, deep-thinking, resilient, empathetic, compassionate, creative, team-players, problem-solvers, and awesome citizens of our complex, ever-changing, and diverse world. Heather is thrilled to be joining the TEA team and embarking on her 11th year of teaching. Personally, Heather has a joyous and curious relationship with life, so away from teaching and developing her craft, you might find Heather reading , traveling, relaxing solo or with friends at Donner Lake, visiting family in Auburn, eating delicious vegetarian foods, snowboarding at Sugar Bowl, finding peace and renewal outdoors, loving her children and husband, or playing with her dog Charlie.

What inspired you to join TEA? The promise that not only will I be teaching my beloved subject areas, but that I will be challenged and encouraged to try new things, struggle, be in awe, have fun, be curious, let creative juices flow, reflect, learn deeply, build relationships, and cultivate wisdom right alongside my students and colleagues! I am excited to do this work and to see who we become!

Where did you go to school? San Francisco State University: BA Philosophy & World Religions / MA Philosophy Brandman University: Social Science Credential

Do you have any special certifications? WFA

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? Kombucha is life!!!

Carrie Haines Bio

Carrie Haines | Real-World Intensive Coach

Carrie Haines is from Mill Valley, California. She studied with the School of Dramatic Arts at the University of Southern California and earned her BFA in Acting. Carrie did her post graduate work in English and Dramatic Arts at Sonoma State University. She has been a member of both SAG AFTRA, and Actor’s Equity Association. Carrie has been directing stage productions at both the community and professional level since 1990. Carrie is the Artistic Director for Truckee Community Theater and teaches workshops, camps, and directs main stage productions. Carrie is a member of the California Educational Theatre Association (CETA). She is excited to be joining the communiTEA along with her husband John and daughter, Lily who is now at the middle school.

What inspired you to join TEA? Just about everything at TEA inspires me, but what stands out is the idea of challenging students to reach beyond their comfort zone to explore the world around them.

Where did you go to school? The University of Southern California, School of Dramatic Arts, BFA

Do you have any special certifications?California Educational Theatre Association (CETA, Member Actor’s Equity Association, Retired member Screen Actor’s Guild/SAG/AFTRA.

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should?I am an introvert.

Katy Watts Bio

Katy Watts | College and Career Counselor + Registrar

Katy was born and raised in the Bay Area and has been happily working with teenagers since 2002, after she earned her MA in School Counseling and PPS from Chapman University. After 3 years in public schools in the Bay Area, she moved to the Middle East (Bahrain) in 2005 to focus on college planning and guidance, where she worked with international students seeking admissions to universities not only in the US, but in Australia, Europe, Canada and anywhere else they could imagine. She has also worked with students from low income and first generation backgrounds. Most recently she has been an external freshman reader for a top UC. Well versed in public, private and Ivy League colleges and universities, Katy also has experience with recruited athletes.

Katy has been with TEA since 2015 and has been honored to create the HS College and Counseling program from the beginning and usher each senior class to post HS life. Her focus has always been on guiding students in finding the right social, academic and financial fit for college. Katy continues to stay current on admission trends by attending local, regional and national conferences and visiting colleges and universities around the US.

What inspired you to join TEA? TEA provides an opportunity for students of all ages to develop holistically while balancing academics, character and adventure. Our kids truly are ready for the real world by the time they graduate.

Where did you go to school? CSU East Bay BA Sociology, MA Counseling, PPS Chapman University

Do you have any special certifications? NACAC, ACCIS

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? As a family, our goal is to visit all 50 states by the time our kids, age 6 and 11, graduate from HS!

Ana Remis Bio

Ana Sofia Remis | Real-World Intensive Coach

Ana was born and raised in Miami, FL, where she studied Visual Arts at New World School of the Arts. For her undergraduate degrees Ana studied science & design at the New School in New York City, receiving a BA degree in Environmental Studies and a BFA in Design and Technology from Parsons, as well a double minoring in Interdisciplinary Science and Hispanic Studies. Her thesis Solaic documented the creation of dye-sensitized solar cells and studied their potential use as a hands-on way of learning about energy, electricity, botany, and chemistry.

Ana has worked with various institutions as an educator, designer, and marine species researcher– whether it was exploring Alaska in the name of renewable energy, mucking about SF Bay for invasive clams, or biking through Brooklyn with tupperwares of phosphorous-loaded pond water.

After graduating Ana moved to Reno, where she worked for the Desert Research Institute to created citizen-science centered curricula to engage the surrounding communities with their local ecology. She is currently enrolled in Sierra Nevada University’s Masters of Arts in Teaching program. Her work focuses on the intersection of art, science, and education, and her passions lie in interdisciplinary avenues of promoting STEAM engagement for all.

What inspired you to join TEA? TEA’s commitment to providing inquiry-based and experiential education fosters the curiosity and passion of its students, making it a unique and inspiring place to have the pleasure of contributing to each day!

Where did you go to school? Parsons School of Design, BFA in Design & Technology & Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, BA Environmental Studies with minors in Interdisciplinary Science and Hispanic Studies

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I like to experiment with making raspberry-powered solar mosaics (dye-sensitized solar cell arrays) in my spare time

Eric Martin Bio

Eric Martin | Athletics and Activities Director + Real-world Intensive Coach

Eric graduated from Salisbury University in 2004 with a BS in Business Marketing. At Salisbury, Eric had a standout lacrosse career — winning two National Championships in 2003 & 2004 and was named the 2003 & 2004 National Defenseman of the Year and the 2004 National Player of the Year. The summer following college, Eric was drafted by professional lacrosse teams in New York and California. After spending time on both coasts Eric made San Francisco home for the next 8 years, that is, while he wasn’t flying to/from or playing lacrosse games across North America. Eric enjoyed a nearly 10 year professional lacrosse career in the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse. Eric was a member of the US Men’s National Team that won the 2010 World Championship in Manchester, England. He’s a member of the Salisbury University Athletics Hall of Fame. Eric started working at TEA at the beginning of the 2011/12 school year. Prior to moving to Tahoe, Eric worked in sales and marketing within the sport and manufacturing industries. He directed and coached One City Lacrosse, a non profit that introduced lacrosse to underserved youth in San Francisco. He also co-founded and ran a lacrosse camps business. Eric believes that athletic participation and competition define character and perseverance. Eric will draw from his extensive professional background to help students discover and pursue their athletic passion.

What inspired you to join TEA? The opportunities and challenges that Lake Tahoe and its surrounding lands provide to everyone willing to step out of their comfort zone.

Where did you go to school? Salisbury University, BS in Business Marketing

Do you have any special certifications? High Sierra Lacrosse Board Member, Wilderness First Responder

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I’m a better cook than you.

Greg Wright Bio

Greg Wright | Marketing and Communications Director + Real-world Intensive Coach

Greg’s path to joining TEA was through the world of action sports. Prior to TEA, Greg was at the helm of an influential action sports publishing network whose titles included Freeskier Magazine and Snow Board Magazine. His particular area of expertise is branded content production and distribution, and he’s found an impactful application for that skillset at TEA. From our TEAFilms.org program to our yearbook, website blog, social media, and monthly feel-good email newsletters, Greg may have earned the title “Chief Storyteller” at TEA.

What inspired you to join TEA? The opportunity to use storytelling and content distribution to influence kids to solve real-world problems and advocate for causes they believe it.

Where did you go to school? Sierra Nevada College, BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Ski Area Design, Layout and Management.

What is something that not everyone knows about you, but probably should? I love to cook and have even won competitive cooking awards for my pork green chili (that’s made with 100% jalapeños).