Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy Staff
Registrar & Attendance Secretary
Upper School Science
Samuel Bennett is originally from Santa Barbara, CA where he attended graduate school (University of California, Santa Barbara) and authored several peer-reviewed academic papers. Before graduate school, Samuel spent his time surfing California, Hawaii and Mexico, all while completing his undergraduate work at Cal State Channel Islands with emphases in Biology and Environmental Science.
Samuel and Kameron have three small children, Truett (8), Priscilla (6) and Freedom (5). You can spot the family shredding the Gold Peak terrain park in winter or the Edwards skate park in summer.
Upper School English
Katie Brandl joined VSSA in 2013. She hails from the mountains of North Carolina where she attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. In Charlotte, NC she got her Master of Arts of Teaching Secondary English at the University of North Carolina. Before teaching at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, the majority of her education career was spent at Carolina International School teaching students from across the globe in 7th grade-10 grade, while teaching writing courses at the local community college.
She tries to spend her summers teaching abroad, and has worked in schools in Thailand, Honduras, and India, as well as working with children in the Netherlands. Katie likes biking, hiking, camping and has recently fallen in love with Colorado winters.
Student Support Specialist
Erin is an alumna of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and a graduate of Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy. While at SSCV, she was a freestyle mogul skier and she enjoyed traveling around the US and Canada for NorAm competitions.
Erin attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. Her coursework included several mathematics, physics, chemistry, and environmental courses and her senior year she worked on a senior design project investigating the intercropping of macadamia nuts and arabica coffee beans. Additionally, Erin participated in the Club Ski Team and the Women’s Ice Hockey Team at Lafayette.
Following graduation, Erin worked at an environmental consulting company in Philadelphia where she assisted with compliance and remediation programs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Erin also has experience working with children and leading wilderness trips throughout her time at North Country Camps in the Adirondacks.
Erin is excited about returning to the Vail Valley and working with student-athletes to help them achieve their academic and athletic goals.
School Counselor and Sports Specialist
Trustee and VSSA Principal
Wade Hill is in his 5th year as principal of VSSA and his 25th year of service with Eagle County Schools. Prior to VSSA, Wade was one of the original founders of Red Canyon High School, the alternative school for the district, where he served as Principal for 13 years. Under his leadership the school grew from 65 students to 190 students and in 2011 he created World Academy, the district’s online/homeschooled program. Wade has overseen the addition of other sports teams to VSSA while staying true to the mission of serving high level athletes pursuing their dream of sport.
Wade moved to Colorado at a young age and grew up west of Colorado Springs, earning his Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology, and a minor in Chemistry from Fort Lewis College in Durango. He holds a Masters in Teaching from The Colorado College in Colorado Springs and a Principal’s license from Adams State College.
Wade currently lives in Gypsum with his wife Mitzi, a teacher at Red Hill Elementary, and his daughters, Sierra and Summer, both ECS students.
Wade continues to enjoy being at the helm of VSSA and has always been passionate about designing school programs that meet the needs of students with unique aspirations and goals, and VSSA is a perfect fit for that!
Lower & Upper School Science Teacher
Scott Hopkins comes to us from Oxford, Mississippi, where he was the recipient of the Robert Plants award of excellence in teaching at the University of Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BA in 2005. The son of a Bell South Engineer and with a family deeply committed to education and community, Scott brings a valuable perspective on school culture and specifically as a middle school science teacher. In his third year at VSSA, Scott received the Eagle County Schools Excellence in Teaching Award as well as was named VSSA’s Outstanding Educator by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
Scott has spent the better part of his life enthralled with science, so it is fitting that he incorporates inquiry-based lessons in his science classes as often as possible. Scott has worked with many innovative science programs and now looks to implement a Science Olympiad team, and an engineering fair competition. Scott teaches lower school science and also leads professional development with the VSSA staff at the building level. Scott will be skiing as much as possible this winter and is preparing for massive improvements in his on-mountain technique.
5th Grade Teacher
Foreign Language and Art
John Martin was born and raised in Sun Valley, Idaho and is a product of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation as a halfpipe and freestyle snowboard competitor. In high school he traveled to Spain at 16 years old and lived there for 6 months in full immersion. He graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA with a BA in Spanish and French and a BS in Marketing. During his time at Gonzaga University he spent a year in Europe studying Spanish and French and met his girlfriend of now 6 years, Allie. Post-graduation Allie and John moved to Denver. After living there for a year he realized that he was not meant for the city and followed his calling of living in the mountains and teaching Spanish. This is his second year at VSSA and he is fully committed to the balance of athletics and education for our youth. He also helps out part time with the Snowboard team and enjoys riding his mountain bike in the summer.
Lower School Social Studies & Special Education
Kelli Parish joined VSSA in 2009 from Trieste, Italy where she and her husband Rob had been teaching. Before that, Kelli spent 7 years teaching language arts, literature and social studies in grades 6-8 at Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards. She was twice nominated for the Eagle County School Districts ‘Teacher of the Year’ award, and has a dynamic athletic background as well as a thorough understanding of how to support the unique needs of our middle school students. Kelli and Rob both have dynamic athletic backgrounds and will reside in Vail with their son.
She graduated Colorado State University in 1993 with a BA in English and a minor in History.
Upper School & Lower School Social Studies & MTSS
Adam is a Colorado native. He was born and raised in the Denver metro area. He has been an educator for the past 17 years. He has taught all over the Front Range from Denver to Pueblo. Adam has spent most of his education career in non-traditional schools and programs. He has taught in middle school and high school settings. He has taught all the math classes up to the calculus level, World and American History as well as many other Social Studies classes, and all the high school grades of English. He has, in online learning platforms, taught biology and physical science and many varied elective classes. He currently lives in Summit County. Adam enjoys all that Colorado has to offer especially all of the opportunities to take in concerts and all the festivals that are held around the area.
Upper School Social Studies
Eric Rippeth originated from Reno, Nevada where he attended the University of Nevada Reno and graduated with a B.S. in Geography. He first moved to Colorado as a cartographer working with the USGS to create GIS computerized maps. Eric decided to enter the teaching world by attending Sierra Nevada College at Lake Tahoe to receive his teaching credentials. Eric has been in education for over fifteen years as a classroom teacher and a secondary gifted and talented liaison for the Eagle County school district. He has brought the Model United Nations program, Robotics, and Science Olympiad in and incorporated them into his curriculum.
Eric loves to travel having taken middle school students to Europe, China, Australia, and New Zealand with the People to People program. Eric has young twin boys who Nordic ski while also enjoying alpine skiing, hiking, biking, fishing, and playing baseball.
Lower School English
Lower & Upper School Mathematics
Cindy joined SSCV and VSSA in 2011 as our Lower School Mathematics teacher and Alpine Substitute Coach. Cindy brings a rich background in both education and skiing. She has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and two Masters in Bio-mechanics and Education Administration from University of Colorado. While attending CU Cindy raced for four years and coached most recently for Telluride. She is Level 200 certified with USSA and mas coached many age and skill levels throughout the years. Cindy has taught mathematics and science at Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont, Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, Rocky Mountain Academy in Evergreen and most recently at Telluride High School.
Cindy’s goals for her athlete are to set daily targets and see progress in their skiing and to make sure they have fun doing it. When Cindy isn’t coaching she enjoys watching her kids who are both competitive racers.
Upper School Math
Charlene Whitney joined VSSA in 2011 as the Director of College Counseling. She is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia and has been in Eagle County since 2007. After graduating college, she took a job with Eckerd Youth Alternatives to work with youth at risk.
Out of the 19 wilderness programs throughout the East Coast, she went to work in a small town called Floral City, Florida.When she started her career in 1999, she had no idea that first position would have such a profound impact on her life. For her two year commitment as a Counselor/Teacher she lived with a group of 11 adolescent females in a campsite on 860 acres of land. They lived together in tent like structures built with their own hands. They slept under mosquito nets and cooked meals on open fires. When she completed her two-year commitment she stayed at the program to work in different positions. She gained experience as a supervisor, trainer, and a group treatment coordinator.
In 2005, she moved to Vermont and continued to work for the same company but gained experience working with adolescent males and their families as a Family Worker. In 2007, Charlene became aware of a career opportunity in Colorado as a Social Caseworker for Eagle County. While working for the county she was able to obtain a Masters in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education from the University of Colorado at Denver with hopes of becoming a School Counselor.
Charlene is thrilled to be a part of VSSA and is excited to jump into the world of college counseling while supporting the social and emotional needs of the students. While she loves to travel, she can not imagine living anywhere but Eagle County.