Alta Welcomes a Host of New Teachers for the New School Year
Meet the new teachers and counselors who are joining Alta this year!
New faculty are given for any school year. This year’s group comes from all over the country and has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with this year’s student body. Take a minute and become acquainted with Alta’s new teachers.
Marcus Albertson: Basketball and P.E.
Mr. Albertson grew up in Washington state and went to Royal High School. He attended Brigham Young University and received his bachelors degree in Spanish, although his dreams were never to be a teacher, he did want to be an architect. Some of his hobbies include spending time with family, golfing, and playing video games. His dream vacation would be a cross country trip with a lot of golfing involved. He has been married for seven years and has three children. He loves hearing all the new excuses that kids come up with and also likes the students and teachers at Alta high. His advice to kids would be to “take it one day at a time, life always gets better”.
His advice about teaching is to “always remember the influence that you have beyond the subject you teach. If you have the desire to teach, you have the ability to influence the pathway for many students.”
Angela Alires: Financial Literacy, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Accounting, Internship
Ms. Alires grew up in Sandy, Utah and attended Jordan High School. She has two brothers and two children. Her favorite class to teach is Financial Literacy. She became a teacher because she likes to help kids while also teaching them and guiding them. Her favorite thing to do is play Fortnite.
The thing she enjoys the most about teaching is meeting new and different people.
Lisa Ballash: Counselor
Ms. Ballash grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a University of Michigan fan! She graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The most important thing about being a counselor is wanting to support her students and help students find a potential path for their college and careers. She hopes her students will remember her as someone “who was there to support them through the hardships and goals they want to overcome”.
Her favorite movie is Little Miss Sunshine. She also loves to watch sports documentaries.
Her favorite thing to do in her free time is go skiing and spend time with her children. She wants her students to know that she will always be there for them even if she is super busy during the school year.
Prerna Chaudhary: English
Mrs. Chaudhary grew up in New Delhi, India and graduated from Maharshi Dayanand University in India. Her parents still live in India. Mrs. Chaudhary is married and has a one year old son. She became a teacher because her mom is also an English teacher and she looks up to her. Mrs. Chaudhary believes that teaching brings the best out of her and has been a teacher since 2015.
She hopes that her students will remember her bright and vibrant energy and personality.
Her favorite T.V. shows are Schitt’s Creek and any Adam Sandler movie.
The biggest challenge about being a teacher is that it requires a lot of physical and mental strength. Being a teacher requires a lot of discipline. “The key to be a successful teacher is when you discover your role in your students life.”
Krista Edwards: English
Ms. Edwards Grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and attended B.Y.U. Her mom is a teacher and her brother is a principal. She became a teacher because she realized she could have a bigger impact on kids. The thing she enjoys the most about teaching is seeing kids grow.
Some of her hobbies are falconry, hiking and traveling. The best advice she can give to people is that being popular only lasts four years, but being good lasts a lifetime.
Her dream vacation is traveling to Scotland.
She likes classes with a lot of personality and room for growth. She hopes that students will take her passion for reading and writing beyond high school.
Forreste Colson: Jewelry 1 and 2
Mrs. Forreste is from Maryland and grew up near Washington D.C. She graduated from Towson University and also attended Eastern Illinois University. She is married and has two little boys. When we asked her what she loved the most about teaching she said that she loves when her students get it, when they see their improvement and love their work. The biggest challenge about being a teacher is that there is never enough time.
Her favorite T.V. show is Only Murders in the Building and Reservation Days.
Her advice about teaching is to “learn about as many different cultures and lifestyles as you can. Your students are going to come from everywhere and have all kinds of backgrounds and experiences, and you will need to reach all of them where they are.”
Wyatt Grant: Math 1 and 2
Mr. Grant is originally from Maryland and Washington D.C. He went to the University of Delaware. He became a teacher because he always liked seeing students progress, learn, and develop.
The thing he enjoys the most about teaching is that he gets to see students understand things which makes him feel like he is doing a good job.
He enjoys playing pickleball, and west coast swing dancing in his free time. His favorite T.V. show is the Lord of the Rings.
He feels like the biggest challenge about being a teacher is being able to maintain a balance between life, class and trying not to push himself too hard.
Breanna Holtry: Drawing 1
Mrs. Holtry grew up in South Jordan, Utah and graduated from B.Y.U. where she studied Fine Arts. She is married and expecting a baby which will then make her a family of six. She became an art teacher because she loved her art teacher in high school. Before becoming a teacher at Alta, she taught art at Indian Hills. The thing she likes the most about being a teacher is seeing art from her students. She hopes that her students have a great experience in her class.
She has also coached cheerleading for 10 years. Her favorite T.V. show is Star Wars.
Her advice about teaching is, “There will be very hard days where you aren’t sure you are doing the right thing, but always remember the good times when you see your students really taking off with what you’re teaching them.”
Jodene Jensen: Counselor / AP and 504 Coordinator
Ms. Jensen is originally from Salt Lake City, but she’s spent most of her childhood in Taylorsville. She later attended the University of Utah and graduated with an undergraduate degree is Sociology. She also graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Master degree in Educational Counseling. She is currently working on a doctorate in Human Services.”
Ms. Jensen also has three children, two of which are the age 8 and 10 that live with her at home. She owns three pets which are a dog, cat and rabbit named Dawg, Wednesday, and FuFu.
“I hope they will remember that I worked to support them and I hope they felt comfortable asking me for assistance,” Ms. Jensen said.
Shannah Kanet: American Sign Language
Mrs. Kanet grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. She attended Valley High School and went to the University of Nevada in Las Vegas where she earned her degree in elementary education. Later, she went to Sierra Nevada University where she earned her degree in advanced teaching and educational leadership. Both her parents and two of her aunts were teachers, so Ms. Kanet grew up surrounded by teachers. She was influenced by her family to have a love and passion for teaching.
Some of her hobbies include yoga, cooking, gardening and traveling. She is happily married with three children. The best advice she could give her students would be “get organized. Making a plan for what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it will make sure you’re always ahead of the game.”
Her advice about teaching is “to be a teacher isn’t for the faint of heart. To be a teacher is someone who loves working with people and enjoys teaching whatever grade level or subject that they are passionate about.”
Sefili Kaufusi: ABS
Mr. Kaufusi grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from the University of Utah. He has four children: three boys and one girl. His favorite class to teach is language arts. He decided to become a teacher so he could help kids learn better and be a good support system to them.
Before becoming a teacher, he was in finance and worked at a bank.
The thing he enjoys the most about teaching is hanging out with the students. He hopes that students can learn at least one thing from him, and he hopes they can remember him by it. He loves listening to music in his free time. One of his favorite artists is Moneybagg Yo. His favorite T.V. show is Star Wars.
James Langford: PE, Health and Hawkwatch
Mr. Langford grew up in Orem, Utah. He graduated from Mountain View High School and attended Southern Utah University. While at the university, he earned his masters degree in education. He has five children: three girls and two boys. His wife works for the Utah State Board of Education.
Mr. Langford decided to become a teacher because he has had great teachers in his life, and he wanted to have that same connection with students.
Mr. Langford enjoys playing golf and his dream vacation is visiting Hawaii. Mr Langford hopes students will remember things that he has taught them.
The thing he loves the most about Alta is meeting good and respectful kids and having new connections with students.
Brooke Larsen: Interior Design, Food & Nutrition, Culinary 1, Baking & Pastry
Ms. Larsen grew up in Centerville, Utah. She graduated from Utah State University where she earned her bachelors and her masters degree. She is the oldest of four children, and she has three younger brothers. Her favorite class to teach is interior design because she loves seeing how creative her students are. She started teaching as soon as she graduated University.
The biggest challenge about being a teacher is that there is a lot of pressure to be a perfect teacher. She hopes that students will remember how much she enjoys being a teacher.
Her favorite movie is Dan in Real Life.
Her advice about teaching for students interested in becoming a teacher is, “…spend time in schools! Ask some great teachers if you can observe them.”
Jessica Nedrich: Biology & Botany
Ms. Nedrich grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended B.Y.U and has one little brother and two sisters.
The reason she became a teacher was because she loved her high school science teacher. Before becoming a teacher, she worked at a library and also coached tennis.
The thing she enjoys most about teaching is that she gets to know her students and she likes doing projects. She hopes that kids know that she is easy to work with and that she is very kind and sympathetic. Some things she loves to do in her free time are playing pickleball.
Her favorite T.V. show is Criminal Minds.
Alex Petruso: Secondary Math 1 and 2
Mr. Petruso is from Rupai, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Kent State University in Ohio. The reason why he became a teacher is because he knows that students have real potential to alter the trajectory of their lives in high school. He enjoys helping them realize that they can do big things in life.
Before becoming a teacher he was working in architecture in New York City.
His biggest challenge about being a teacher is the unpredictability. “As a teacher most problems need to be solved quickly”. He hopes that students will remember that he helped them learn and how to think and work hard.
His favorite show is either Breaking Bad or Spongebob.
Kelly Romano: Sociology, History, U.S. History, & Geography
Ms. Romano is from Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Iowa State University.
She has two brothers, her mom is a math teacher and she has a dog named Zuno.
She decided to become a teacher because she didn’t have a good high school experience and wants kids to be comfortable enough in her classroom, and she wants to make connections with them.
Her favorite food is anything Italian. She decided to move here from the Midwest for a change of scenery. She’s taught at Alta before, and when they offered her a full-time job, she decided to stay.
Tony Simons: Biology & Earth Science
Mr. Simons grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he attended Oswego High School. After high school, he attended the University of Minnesota where he later received his bachelors in Neuroscience. A cool fact about Mr. Simons is that he didn’t always want to be a teacher. He was a scientist before, but preferred to discuss and teach broader subjects.
Some of his hobbies include climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. He has a fiance, a brother and two cats.
The thing he most enjoys about his job and teaching is running labs and letting kids explore science.
Mr. Spencer-Wise grew up in New London, Ohio and graduated there at at Ohio University. He also attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Mr. Spencer-Wise teaches Ceramics, Sculpture, and AP 3D Art. He loves laughing and sharing fun moments with his students and hopes that his students remember him for having passion for learning new things.
Mr. Spencer-Wise favorite class to teach is Ceramics because, “It’s always been my favorite. There’s something amazing about remodeling earth to create permanent items.”
Mr. Spencer-Wise loves to spend his free time learning about Medieval History and doing recreational activities.
Jaden Vellinga: Foods, Sewing, & Fashion
Mrs. Vellinga grew up in Richfield, Utah and she mostly loved it because she could be involved in a lot of things around her small town. She attended Richfield High School and then later attended Brigham Young University.
While at B.Y.U, she earned her degree in family and consumer science.
Some of her hobbies include interior design, watching football, and playing the Nintendo Switch. Her dream vacation to travel anywhere in Europe so she can see the architecture there.
She has two brothers and one sister, and married her high school sweetheart. The thing she likes the most about teaching is that she gets to spread her knowledge and passions with people who are willing to listen and take in new information.