Duna Strachan, BS AMS MEd
Duna founded Soaring Wings in 1987. She received a BS in Wildlife Biology from Arizona State University and was in the midst of a Master’s degree in Environmental Zoology when parenthood suddenly drew her attention to the world of Montessori. Duna found that her science background lent itself to the science-based Montessori method and enabled her to be a “Renaissance woman”, dabbling in art, music, geography, literature and math as well as science. Duna holds Montessori credentials at the Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood levels and received her Masters degree in Montessori education from St. Catherine University. She was founding president of the Utah Montessori Council and founding member of the UMC Council of Elders. She coordinates the annual state teacher conference, hosts teacher training workshops and serves as faculty and consultant for teacher training programs in Utah, California, Florida and Colorado. She is Director of the Infant & Toddler program at Capital College in Vancouver, Canada and adjunct faculty at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She serves on the advisory boards of the UMC and the Institute for Montessori Innovation at Westminster College. Duna lives in Park Meadows with her husband, best friend, and administrator, Bruce King. Her two Montessori children, Lina and Leith, are grown but the family still enjoys frequent boating expeditions. As Executive Director of Soaring Wings, Duna oversees classroom quality, curriculum integrity, faculty development and community projects aimed at continual improvement and growth of the school.
Leah Linebarger, BS AMS MEd
School Director & Toddler Teacher
Leah has a BS degree in Social Science from Westminster College and holds an American Montessori Society Infant/Toddler teaching credential and a Master’s degree in Montessori education from Westminster College. She attended a Montessori school as a child in Texas, loves the outdoors and is an avid runner.
Carmen Olivera, BA AMS
Carmen grew up in Arequipa, Peru. She studied psychology in Catholic University of Santa Maria and graduated in 2010 and came to Park City to work and explore America. She met her husband here in park city and together they have a bubbly two-year-old daughter. Carmen likes to dance, eat and cook Peruvian food, and especially enjoys spending time with her daughter.
Leti Burns, BA AMS
Leti grew up in Asuncion, Paraguay. She received a BA degree in Business Administration from Universidad Americana. She is fluent in Spanish and holds an American Montessori Society teaching credential at the lower elementary level from Westminster College. She loves the outdoors, travel and family and lives in Park City with her husband Kerry and daughter Sophie Maria.
Ari Alba, BS AMS
Ari was born in San Juan, Argentina and moved to Utah as a child up and grew up Murray. She went to Macalester College to study Biology and then returned to Utah to study and finish her BS degree in Psychology at the University of Utah. She speaks fluent Spanish and worked for nine years with children on the autism spectrum at the Carmen B. Pingree School for Autism and then helped to start up the Bridges Program at Kids on the Move in Orem. She holds an AMS credential at the Infant/Toddler level from the Montessori Teacher Training Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ari loves everything outdoors and is an avid snowboarder, downhill mountain biker, climber and hiker.
Natalija Djunic BS AMS MEd
Early Childhood Teacher
Natalija grew up in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (today Serbia). She received Bachelor of Laws from University of Belgrade Faculty of Law. With a great ambition to succeed she worked hard in the legal field until war in the Balkans forced her and her husband to leave. In the US she lived in San Francisco and New York City before moving to Park City. While in NYC she worked at the West Village Nursery School – a cooperative school where all five of her children attended. In the summer of 2013 she moved with her family to Park City, UT where she discovered the Montessori method after enrolling her youngest at Soaring Wings. Natalija completed the American Montessori Society Early Childhood Teacher training program and the Master of Montessori Education Program at Westminster College.
Molly McDowell, BA AMS
Early Childhood Teacher
Molly grew up in Orinda, California and graduated in 2009 from Northern Arizona University with a BA in Applied Anthropology. She held a horticulture internship at the Arboretum at Flagstaff, restoring native plants and educating school field trips, and also began assisting at a Flagstaff Montessori charter. Molly then spent two seasons in Vail, Colorado following her passion for skiing and teaching ski school. The last couple of years she has spent her time in Seattle and Snoqualmie Pass, Washington raising her daughter Emmylou and watching her husband John suffer through law school.
Molly is excited to settle into a new mountain environment and to advance her teaching skills. She is enrolled in the American Montessori Society Early Childhood Teacher training program and the Master of Montessori Education Program at Westminster College.
Lori Whistler, BS AMS
Lori has a BS in Business Education from Brigham Young University and is enrolled in the American Montessori Society Elementary Teacher training program and the Master of Montessori Education Program at Westminster College. She is also fluent in Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys working on arts and crafts with her son, Peyton. She, Petyon and her husband, Brett, live in Heber City.
Tracy Zisselsberger, BS AMS
Tracy grew up in Vermont, and graduated in 2012 from University of Vermont with a BS in Exercise and Movement Science and Kinesiology. She is an enthusiastic young professional with experience in rehabilitation and healthcare, with a dedicated passion for empowering individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs.
Tracy began her masters at the Teton Science Schools graduate program where she focused on early childhood education and the local geology and ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. There she realized her love for teaching early childhood education and the huge benefits of having an outdoor classroom. Tracy now strives to create intentional learning experiences for her students, developing full circle curriculum alongside her students’ growth and interests. She believes that learning, playing, and exploring outdoors is extremely important in a child’s development and fosters a natural love and curiosity for place. In her free time you can find Tracy out skiing or adventuring with her two dogs in the mountains.
Tracy is excited to become part of the Soaring Wings Montessori community and to advance her skills in education. She is enrolled in the American Montessori Society Elementary Teacher training program and the Master of Montessori Education Program at Westminster College.
Shannon Dixon, BS
Shannon is a small town girl who grew up in northern California. After graduating from Santa Clara University with a BS in Sociology, she worked in a variety of programs for people with disabilities. She recently moved to Utah from the eastern Sierras in California and now lives in Coalville with her husband and two stepsons. Shannon loves being outdoors and is very much enjoying all the recreation in the area. She is also responsible for maintaining the beautiful gardens around our school.
Linda Giebe, BA
Linda holds a BA in English from San Diego State University. She recently returned from a 2-year stint living in Europe where she worked at a Swiss International School assisting with English for 3 – 5 year old children. She is a former flight attendant and has a passion for international travel. She enjoys raising her 13-year old daughter and 11-year old son with her husband of 20 years in wonderful Park City.
Denise Martin, BS
Denise holds a BS in Geology from the University of New Mexico She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and moved with her family to Clearfield, Utah. She also lived in Moab, Utah where she developed a love for the outdoors. She has three awesome children and an adventurous husband named Tim. She spends her free time rafting rivers in Idaho or hiking the magnificent canyons of Utah.
Sarah Woodward, BS
Sarah grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and attended the University of Virginia. After obtaining duel BAs in English Literature and in French Language & Literature, she travelled to northern France to work as an English teacher. Her time abroad catered to both her love of travel and her affinity for working with children. Sarah then joined her family in Park City to embrace the mountain lifestyle. She is enjoying her immersion into the Soaring Wings family, as well as spending her evenings as a gymnastics coach. Outside of work, Sarah loves to experiment in the kitchen, explore Utah’s natural splendors, and study toward a degree in viticulture.
Nathy Van, BS
Nathy (Natty) is from Arequipa, Peru and has a BA in Advertising & Media from St Mary Catholic University. She moved to Park City and married in 2014. She likes to travel, cook & camp and enjoys the mountain life. She says, “I am beyond excited to become part of the Soaring Wings community.”
Sophie Islip, BA
As a child of two British travelers, Sophie was fortunate enough to grow up in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Dubai specifically). Having caught the travel bug herself, Sophie set out as an eighteen-year-old on a two year round-the-world adventure. It was during this time that she fell in love with New Zealand and promised to move there as soon as she could. After studying French, Film and Education at Newcastle university, Sophie moved half way across the world to be a children’s ski instructor in Wanaka, New Zealand. Instructing children to ski ignited a passion for teaching, which led Sophie to a post graduate degree in Teaching from Victoria University.
Her desire to chase the snow landed her in Park City, where she lives with her mischievous Italian Greyhound, Monty. She is excited to join the Soaring Wing’ team and learn about the Montessori philosophy of education.
Lin Peng, BA AMS
Lin moved from Beijing to Utah to pursue her second Bachelor degree in Music. Prior to that she was a recruiter for Pfizer China. She and her husband are expecting their first child in October. Lin is currently working toward her Montessori Infant/Toddler credential, has taken her training at Westminster College and is now interning at Soaring Wings. Her hobbies are interacting with children through music, training her dog, doing hot yoga, baking and cooking.
Bruce W King, BS AMS MEd
Bruce left a successful 15-year career in engineering to take the AMS Montessori teacher training and establish the elementary program in 1993. He lent his talents in science, math and scouting to the popular elementary traditions of weekly field trips, family camp outs, a fascination with science and dissecting all things mechanical. Bruce holds a Masters of Education degree from the University of Utah as well as the BS he completed at Arizona State University while courting his soul mate, Duna Strachan.
Our school has had the honor of working with Dr. Kevin Rathunde and his colleagues from the University of Utah over the past year. Kevin is a celebrity in flow theory research and it has been a delight to be a part of his work. Flow is a state of joyous concentration in which the…Continue Reading...