Faculty & Staff

Give to Hayden Canyon Charter

Give to Hayden Canyon Charter

Hayden Canyon Charter Faculty & Staff

With its exceptional and dedicated teachers, Hayden Canyon Charter is able to create a world-class educational experience. Hayden Canyon Charter’s teachers and staff, supported by parents and community, are committed to creating a rich and well-rounded learning environment in which students:

  • Exhibit autonomy, creativity and collaboration
  • Embrace diversity
  • Grow through discovery and reflection
  • Use real-world experiences
  • Create a better world

Faculty Bios

We are currently accepting applications for faculty and staff members.

Education Director

Cynthia LambCynthia Lamb

Cynthia comes to us with 20+ years of experience providing education and leadership in a rural school district. She first began her journey in education as a parent volunteer, followed by becoming an instructional aide while completing her education and acquiring her teaching credential. After five years of teaching grades 4 & 5, she earned her MAED/ADM, becoming the Principal/Superintendent of a K-8 single school, school district. During her 14 years as an administrator she also taught full-time, coached volleyball, soccer, and baseball for the school’s sports teams.

Cynthia comes to us with experience in implementing hands-on learning experiences, outdoor learning via a school garden, and a passion for education and meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction and expeditionary learning.

When not at work Cynthia enjoys refinishing/repurposing furniture, enjoying the outdoors, and spending time with her husband, children and granddaughter.

Curriculum & Instruction Specialist

Sarah HalstedSarah Halsted

Sarah has over 20 years of experience in K-12 Education. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from The George Washington University in 1995, followed by her Ma. ED from Pacific Lutheran University in 1997. She is certified in K-8 with a high school natural science endorsement, qualifying her to teach all science courses. Sarah was the head coach for men’s and women’s rowing at PLU while also teaching in the south Puget Sound area. Her experience includes working for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; teaching chemistry, earth science, life science, and physics; developing curriculum and instruction for K-12 STEM Education; working at WSU Spokane as a Coordinator for the MESA program (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement); grant writing; mapping and preparing the curriculum scope and sequence for Hayden Canyon Charter; as well as facilitating professional  learning for HCC staff and leadership.

Sarah is in the research phase of her PhD candidacy at the University of Idaho, pursuing her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction in STEM Education.  She is passionate about the expeditionary learning model and meeting the needs of every HCC student.

Above all else,  she values time with her family. Her husband, Sean, sophomore twins, Ethan and Rileigh, and soon to be 6th grader at HCC (woot!!), Keelie,  keep her laughing and forever thankful for the life she has been blessed with.

Special Education Coordinator / Counselor K-8

Jen FriesJen Fries

Jen Fries (pronounced Freeze) has been a special education teacher/coordinator at another local charter school for the past five years, where she developed the special education program.  Prior to that, she was a counselor for troubled teens for three years.  Previously, she worked with children with various special needs in their homes and communities, in addition to substituting, student teaching, and interning in various capacities in the schools during that time.  She has also tutored, and volunteered with, children with differentiated needs in various ways in her church and community.   She earned her undergraduate degree (elementary education, K-8) at Azusa Pacific University, then returned to school to earn her K-12 literacy and special education endorsements, and her Master’s degree in school counseling (K-12), from the University of Idaho. 

In her spare time, she loves spending time with her wonderful husband and two amazing kids.  They especially enjoy four wheeling and boating together in the spring and summer.  She also likes her two cats, tap dancing, reading, and scrapbooking.

Administrative Assistant

Esther ShanklandEsther Shankland

Esther Shankland was born and raised in Spokane, WA, and has a deep connection to her PNW roots. After college, she moved to Seattle and then to Denver, CO, but soon came back to the area she will always call home. She is coming to Hayden Canyon Charter after 3 years as an Administrative Assistant at a local elementary school and has a passion for working with children. Her favorite color is orange, she uses too many exclamation points, and she can’t wait to become a part of a school that strives to reach students right where they are and help grow them into the best young people they can be!

She and her husband Rob have two daughters and love spending time hiking, bike riding, camping, and having cookouts in the backyard.

Special Education Administrative Assistant and Title Program Reporting

Lori AldrichLori Aldrich

Lori Aldrich brings 20 plus years in administrative and business experience. Lori holds a Bachelor of science in Psychology with drug and alcohol addiction emphasis. Other hats include Part-time Realtor, Driver Companion for the Elderly and care giver for her father. She has volunteered in the community ranging from Snohomish County drug take back program and Arlington girls competition cheerleading.

A Native of the PNW, living 40 of those years in Western Washington. In Lori’s downtime she enjoys the outdoors, girls weekends and spending time with her husband of 33 years and her children.

Janitorial / Maintenance

Mikal JohnsonMikal Johnson

Mikal was born at the Oakland Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, the only time in his life he’s been to Oakland. The middle child and only son, he grew up in Petaluma, California until, at the age of nine, his family moved to Federal Way, Washington.

He has been writing short stories since elementary school and bizarre articles and poetry since high school. A short story, “Future Ghosts,” was the introductory feature in the premiere issue of the magazine “Revelations” in 2003 and he worked as a historical consultant on the web-series “Millennium: Apocalypse,” in 2006. He has three published novels, “War of Grace,” “The Winds of All Worlds,” and “Shadows & Grace.”

Mikal lives in Coeur d’Alene with his wife, Dawn, and son, David, and two cocker spaniels.

Reading Specialist / Library Coordinator / IT

Paul SwoffordPaul Swofford

Paul comes to HCC with a great passion for literature. His excitement and enthusiasm with reading is contagious and he hopes to spread it to the world. He has an eclectic background in technology, theatre, and writing and is thrilled to bring those skills to our school. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Education from LCSC with his K-12 literature endorsement as a reading specialist. Paul believes in creating a safe and engaging environment promoting deeper learning through innovative thinking and hands on learning. He was born and raised in Coeur d’Alene leaving for a time to serve in the United States Navy and then returning to his home in the beautiful Kootenai County area. 

In his free time Paul loves spending time with his wife and three children. He is also an avid video game player, author, self proclaimed DND nerd, and devourer of all things literature.

Music Specialist

Paul SwoffordJesse Hampsch

Jesse Hampsch is a musician, conductor, and educator who enjoys making music in all forms! He holds his Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Idaho. His passion for teaching music to groups has led him through career paths as a music director, choral educator, and teacher of children’s music classes. In addition to teaching, he loves performing and composing music. His arrangement of “True Colors” is published with Hal Leonard. He works regularly with instrumental ensembles in his music direction, and loves collaborating with instrumentalists. His favorite part of working with children is their joy in discovering new concepts in music; every class is an opportunity to grow artistically!

Music is not Jesse’s only creative outlet! He loves making things, so he dabbles in leatherwork and woodworking as hobbies. A fun project he took on last summer was converting an old piano into a computer desk. If you see Jesse with a stylish belt or briefcase, he probably made it!

Math Specialist / RTI

Debi Coons1Debi Coons

Debi has a passion for and is committed to helping students overcome barriers that impact their learning through effective instructional intervention. Focusing on getting to know your students’ individual needs, allows her to teach multiple math strategies that encourage “growth mindset” and build student confidence; all imperative to their academic success.

Debi holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education (2019) from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lewis Clark State College (2011). She has worked in the public school system since 2001, starting as an Administrative Assistant while working her way through college to become a certified elementary teacher. Debi has spent the past five years as a math specialist for grades 3-6 and most recently as a 6th-grade teacher. 

She is the proud wife of a retired Army Staff Sergeant, has three children, and three grandbabies. Although she was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis Maryland, Debi has been a resident of Idaho for 25 years and considers herself more of an Idaho native than Marylander. In her downtime, she enjoys traveling to the East Coast, vacationing in Hawaii, camping, boating, gardening, and spending time with her family. She is a certified beekeeper and has an apiary with over 50,000 honeybees.

Special Education / Gifted and Talented

Deb LawsonDeb Lawson

Deb Lawson is an education specialist whose passion is working with students who are gifted and talented and students who are twice exceptional. She firmly believes students should always be using their strengths on their path to success, and identification of those strengths is the key to helping students succeed. She strongly believes in providing students with the tools they will need not only to be successful in school but also in their futures.

Deb has a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and a Master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Education, with certification in teaching and special education. She brings a variety of life experiences to our school outside of her teaching experience, having experience in retail management, biological research, banking, sales, professional editing, and many other fields. As a gymnastics coach for the last 15 years, Deb has used gymnastics as a medium not only for teaching gymnastic skills but also character development, cooperative learning, mentoring and career readiness, self-advocacy, and how to take command of one’s own achievement.

In her free time Deb enjoys cooking, baking, reading, riding her motorcycle, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and rabbits.

1/2 Kindergarten

Jadrian HammonJadrian Watson

Jadrian recently graduated from the University of Idaho with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and an endorsement in history.  She is passionate about project based, interdisciplinary, inclusive, and kinesthetic learning, as well as literacy and the humanities.  Growing up in Coeur d’Alene, California, and Nevada has given Jadrian a diverse perspective that lead her to discover drama at Lake City High School, a career as a paralegal, and now to work engaging students’ innate love of learning. 

Jadrian enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, and, of course, reading.  She is an avid reader, getting lost in horse stories and fantasy at a young age.  She has since developed a passion for history and historical fiction.  She is eager to work with our students to discover their individual passions for reading as they grow.


Debi Coons1Robin Curtis

Robin comes to HCC with 20 years of teaching experience and working with young children. She has a background in psychology and early childhood development. Robin is from Austin, TX, where she began her teaching career. Over the years, Robin has taught preschool, pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and second grade. Robin and her family moved to Coeur d’Alene four years ago. During this time, she has continued teaching kindergarten in addition to becoming a licensed Behavior Intervention Specialist. 

Robin’s passion is understanding and recognizing the developmental domains of the whole child: social/emotional, identity, academic, cognitive, physical and mental health. Robin believes children have an active part in their learning. She facilitates this through hands-on lessons and project-based learning. Robin is inspired by her students and their families, her colleagues and expeditionary learning opportunities.

When not working, Robin enjoys spending time with her husband, son and yellow lab, Jasper. Together, they’ve been exploring and discovering the PNW. Robin also enjoys reading, live music and adding to her baking/cooking repertoire.


Jennifer PaineJennifer Paine

Jennifer is thrilled to be teaching kindergarten at Hayden Canyon Charter and be part of such a warm and dynamic community. She strives to create a caring, safe, and engaging learning environment, which encourages students to believe in themselves and to do their personal best. She grew up in Nevada and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Nevada-Reno then went on to work in biological research for six and half years. She has always had a passion for learning and sharing that love of learning with others. She received her Master’s degree in Elementary Education.  Jennifer started out her teaching career as an assistant Kindergarten teacher and has also taught 6th, 3rd, and 2nd grade.

Outside of teaching, she enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing and spending time with her husband, two children and their black lab named Owen.

1st Grade

Jen MacKeageJen MacKeage

Jen joins HCC with over 10 years of teaching experience from pre-K to 6th grade.  When her school district asked all elementary schools to become “schools of choice,”  she had the privilege to be a part of the community of parents and educators that brought EL model to her school.  She was a part of the committee that developed Crew plans and structures throughout the preschool to 8th grade; and collaborated with other educators to create science and social studies based expeditions for K-3rd grades.  Prior to teaching Jen has had the opportunity to work with children of all ages and backgrounds as a nanny, ski instructor, respite care provider, supervised visitation provider and oldest grandchild.  Jen received her BA from Colorado University in Political Science and History, then moved on to complete the Teacher Education program at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.  

Her greatest joys in life include going on adventures with her family!  Her husband, Patrick, soon to be 3rd grader at HCC, Sean, and rambunctious preschooler, Kier, all enjoy camping, hiking, biking, rafting, swimming, playing, traveling…if it’s an adventure the MacKeage clan is up for the challenge!

2nd Grade

Bri DurocherBri Durocher

Bri began her journey in education in Colorado. After receiving her BA in Elementary Teaching (2015), she taught at an EL Education school in Parachute, CO where she fell in love with the EL model. After some travel and moving around, she felt passionate to teach at an EL school again and moved to Hayden to become a founding board member for HCC. Since moving to Hayden, she has received her M.ED in Educational Leadership. 

The outdoors has always been a big component of her life. She enjoys snowboarding, wakeboarding, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, fishing, and kayaking. If she is not playing in the dirt, soil, snow, or water, you can find her at a local event. She has always enjoyed adventures and spent 36 days backpacking across the Northern and Southern islands of New Zealand, a summer leading teens through the backcountry and 60 days road tripping across the United States in a Subaru.


Visit my Classroom HERE 

3rd Grade

Lynette SmithLynette Smith

Lynette Smith has been teaching for 27 years.  Seventeen of those years in Charter Schools in Idaho.  She obtained her BA through NNU, Nampa, and a Master of Education through Lesley University, Cambridge.  She looks forward to working with students, colleagues, and parents at Hayden Canyon Charter.  Her desire is to continue to learn and grow with her students, and believes in working with the community to build strong partnerships with education.

Lynette and Randy, her husband, settled on the family farm in Hayden in 2018 after Randy retired after 36 years in the Army.  They raise various pine trees, Belted Galloway, also known as Oreo cattle, Boer goats, and chickens.  They are a part of the American Tree Farm Association, Spokane Vets on the Farm, and the Farmer Veteran Coalition.  They enjoy kayaking, spending time with family, building projects together, and hiking through the woods.


4th Grade

Allison SlatteryAllison Slattery

Allison has been a 3rd/4th grade teacher for over 20 years.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  She is also credentialed to teach Music and English as a Second Language.  She began her career in San Diego and relocated to Northern Idaho in 2019.

Allison is a Google Certified Educator Level 2 and was a First Lego League Robotics Coach.  She likes to integrate both iPads and Chromebooks into her classroom curriculum. She feels that learning to be creative with technology and becoming proficient problem solvers are skills that prepare students for the future.  Students in her class study the importance of having a growth mindset and are empowered to make personal choices in their learning paths.  Allison loves STEM and integrating art across all subjects.

Allison has been named the San Diego Computer Using Educator Innovative Teacher of the Year, the Greater San Diego Mathematics Council Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year, and was a San Diego County Teacher of the Year Finalist. She is also an alumni of the Mickelson Exxonmobil Teachers Academy for Math and Science. 

Allison and her husband are thrilled to call Hayden, Idaho home and are excited to be part of the Hayden Canyon Charter family.  Allison has many hobbies including cooking, baking, gardening, bird watching, playing music, ceramics, paper crafting, and doing home improvement projects. 

5th Grade

Dina SinesDina Sines

In her ten years of teaching, Dina Sines has worked in many places including: Southeast Asia, Seattle, and Coeur d’Alene. She considers teaching to be the best job in the world and is thrilled to be joining Hayden Canyon Charter as a fifth-grade teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Idaho. Growing up on the shores of Hayden Lake has given her a true appreciation of nature and the beauty of this area.

When she is not teaching, Dina can be found reading, hiking, and traveling.

6th Grade

Kelly HardcastleKelly Hardcastle

Kelly has been a public school teacher for the past 15 years in Oregon and Idaho. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Oregon State University in Elementary Education as well as a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. She has experience teaching grades 1,3,4, and 6, and mathematics is her favorite subject to teach. Kelly hopes to utilize her Master’s degree in Integrated Teaching through the Arts more in the expeditionary learning model. The world needs more art! She is fascinated by helping children grow and reach their academic potential using a holistic approach. Challenging students is a priority for her, and she enjoys learning right along with the students! Knowledge is power, and education is one of the keys to a strong community.Why not include more service-learning in the classroom, too? It’s a win for students and the community alike.

Kelly’s family has lived in North Idaho for the past ten years and enjoys exploring the great outdoors together. Outside of the classroom, she finds pleasure in trail running, hiking, camping, traveling, reading, climbing, bird watching, eating doughnuts, and laughing at puns. Remember, not all math puns are terrible, just sum of them!

6th Grade

Leslie LacariaLeslie Lacaria

Leslie has been an elementary and middle school teacher for sixteen years. During her career, she has worked in the public, private, and online sector. She loves making lessons come to life for students-enabling them to connect and engage with content in creative and innovative ways. She has a passion for building communities within classrooms, and helping each child grow both independently and interpersonally through projects, communication, goal setting, and reflection.

She also has a love for art, and incorporating it into learning to extend understanding and expression. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and laughing with her husband, kids, friends, and family.

7th / 8th Grade

Melissa KiehlMelissa Kiehl

Melissa grew up in Pennsylvania where she attended Lycoming College and earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy. After moving to Idaho, she began her teaching career at North Idaho College in 2011, where she taught mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Upon receiving her Idaho Education Credential in grades 6-12 mathematics, Melissa began teaching middle school mathematics at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy in 2015. She later moved on to Post Falls High School where she taught Algebra I and Geometry. 

Melissa loves spending time outdoors with her husband and two daughters. They enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing but when stuck indoors they love cooking, baking, and playing board games. In addition, Melissa is on the PTO board for Ramsey Elementary, where she volunteers as PTO Treasurer.

Special Education Paraprofessional

Amber LomasAmber Lomas

Amber lights up the brightest when she has a group of kids dancing and exercising with her, or planting and harvesting food with her. In her 10+ years of experience in educational settings with children, Amber discovered early on that the most valuable learning happens when teachers are able to be open-minded stewards of the child-led educational path and when cooperative communities and social emotional support are present. Amber holds a technical certificate in Outdoor Leadership and will graduate this Fall with an Associate’s degree in Child Development, she then plans to pursue her teaching certificate with an emphasis on Physical Education and Health.

Amber lives in the woods above CDA in an A-frame cabin that she built with the help of her husband, their 6 year old daughter, and their friends and family. If you are ever unable to find Amber, try looking at National Parks, hike-in hot springs, the ocean shores and at potlucks with friends and family. She is also likely to be lost in the stars, dreaming about the vastness of the universe (or perhaps multiverse), or lost in her greenhouse singing to her fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Hayden Canyon Charter is the epitome of Amber’s dream for engaging the minds of our ever-important, next generation. 

Title 1 Paraprofessional

Dannielle RendonDannielle Rendon

Dannielle Rendon has nearly 20 years of experience in business administration and executive management. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with various educational institutions in administration, technology, database management, and K-8 remedial programs. Most recently, she served as a Title1 teacher in the Coeur d’Alene School District. Dannielle believes passionately in an individualized learning approach–each student being met where they are, and given the opportunity to do their very best, utilizing their unique talents and interests!

Dannielle lives on a small farm in Cougar Gulch with her husband and 4 children. Most days you will find them out playing with the goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and dogs. They are active members of 4H and show swine each year at the North Idaho State Fair. When they’re not at home or school, they’re probably off adventuring outdoors and exploring the beautiful PNW! Keep an eye out in town, you might even catch Dannielle rollerblading with Hank, her pot-bellied pig!


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Our Mission: Achieving breakthroughs in academic excellence and character development by inspiring passion for inquiry and lifelong learning – utilizing hands-on discovery, real world application, collaboration and community; preparing each student for engagement in productive, thoughtful citizenship.