Our Team

Staff resumes are available in our office.

Julie Jongsma – Operations Director


Ms. Julie is an Arizona native who grew up right here in Prescott.  She earned her Bachelors in Social Work from Northern Arizona University and went on to get her Masters in Business Administration.  She served as the La Tierra Governing Board President for several years prior to accepting the position as La Tierra’s Operations Officer. In the Summer of 2019 she was honored to begin serving the community as the Operations Director.  She has a deep commitment to and love of the La Tierra mission and the entire La Tierra community.  She can usually be found spending time with her 2 beautiful children who have attended La Tierra for 8 years.  She enjoys practicing yoga as well as all things related to nature and the amazing outdoor opportunities the Southwest has to offer, especially hiking, biking, backpacking and camping.

Rhette Buller – Academic Director


Rhette began her time at La Tierra Community School in 2014 as the Math/Science teacher for grades 5-7 after teaching for seven years in other Prescott area schools. Rhette’s roles at LTCS have changed over the years after leaving the classroom to work with the Administration as the Grants Manager and Title I Director and Teacher. Rhette transitioned to her role as Academic Director in the Summer of 2019 and has loved her new place in the La Tierra Community. Rhette is a native of Prescott and graduated from Prescott High School and then attended Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. There she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001 and immediately moved to Bangkok, Thailand to teach English to Thai children for one year. After returning home from Thailand, Rhette moved to San Francisco and spent 2 years teaching in a Preschool and in an elementary school aftercare program. Her experiences in Thailand and San Francisco inspired Rhette to move back to Prescott to get her teaching certificate at Prescott College. Her teaching career ultimately led her to La Tierra where she found her place among loving and dedicated educators who are deeply committed to serving the whole child and creating a close knit community school. When Rhette is not at La Tierra working with teachers and kiddos, she is enjoying bike riding and hiking with her two munchkins Gus and Clementine and husband Nick.


Heather Sheetz – School Secretary



HeatherHeather is a Texas native who loves her home state! Born and raised in San Antonio, she moved to Prescott in 2003, starting out in AZ working in child care and as a family nanny. She has spent the last 5 years in restaurant management at a local spot downtown before joining the La Tierra staff. She has two amazing children in their 3rd year with La Tierra, and an awesome husband with a local handyman business. She is (slowly) working towards an accounting degree at Yavapai College and enjoys lots of family time, anything food and food health related, and seeing the La Tierra kids every day! She is happy to be a part of the La Tierra family!


Tricia Arnts – Kindergarten Teacher


Tricia is thrilled to be a part of the LTCS family. She loves to travel and perform with The Prescott Chorale, hike, sing, and spend time with her macaw. Tricia began her teaching career in Kindergarten (and taught kinder for three years). She then taught Pre-K for four years. She has  great respect and admiration for the learning process of young children and is inspired by watching her students grow and achieve small goals along the way. Tricia is passionate about La Tierra’s mission and she is excited to be a part of our expeditionary learning inspired community.


Kat Hallowell – Kindergarten Aide



Rachel Cochran – 1st Grade Teacher


Rachel is excited to begin her second year at La Tierra! She grew up homeschooling as her army family moved all over the world before settling down for high school in Northern Virginia. She earned her teaching degree from Bluefield College in 2012 and began working as a substitute while finishing her masters from Grand Canyon University. When not in school, Rachel spends her time with her family and dogs hiking, sewing, and camping. She loves reading and enjoys sharing her love of stories with her students.


Dawn Klaiber – 2nd Grade Teacher


Dawn is excited to be in her eighth year teaching at La Tierra Community School. She spent her early years living on the east coast and in middle school moved to Nebraska with her family. She received an elementary education degree at Minnesota State University in 2010 and went on to study Experiential Education there for her graduate degree which was earned in 2012. Dawn began her teaching career at a small school in Minnesota. She loves experiencing the excitement of learning, discovery, and adventure with her students. She believes in an active, engaging, and rigorous pedagogy, setting high and attainable expectations for each student. In her free time you can find her refinishing furniture, reading, spending quality time with friends and family, traveling and being outside.


David McNelly – 3rd Grade Teacher


Mr. Dave is a native Arizonan who grew up in Tucson.  He is a certified teacher who graduated from Prescott College with a BA in elementary education in 2006. He brings over 14 years of experiential teaching in the primary grades. David believes in understanding children as individuals with their own strengths and interests. He enjoys teaching children to appreciate themselves and the world around them. He loves to teach positive ways to be in the world.  David brings his love of reading, music and the outdoors into his classroom. His free time is spent being with his family of dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, best friend wife, six children (two still living at home), playing guitar, carving wood, forging and gardening.


Barbara Braswell – 4th Grade Teacher


Ms. Barbara has been an educator and worked with children for most of her adult life.  She is committed to engaging the whole child in meaningful learning and is fortunate to work in a school that shares that commitment.  She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and this will be her sixth year teaching at La Tierra Community School.  Her passion for social justice is woven throughout her life. Her fourth grade class motto is “treat people the way you want to be treated”. Barbara lives close to school with her partner Charles.  She has four grown children and four grandchildren that are at the center of her life. She enjoys traveling, music, playing tennis, hiking, and reading.


Logan Smit – 5th Grade Teacher


Mrs. Logan is excited to begin her second year teaching the 5th grade at La Tierra. After growing up in Dallas, Texas, she moved west to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies and Spanish. She also completed English teacher training at that time and earned a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. This allowed her to work internationally for several years with students widely ranging in age and level. Now married to an Arizona native and settled with a dog and home surrounded by trees and boulders, Logan looks forward to teaching and learning from such an adventurous and creative community. 


Teri Lynn Stout – 6th/7th Grade Teacher


Teri Lynn was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She moved to Prescott a few summers ago to be closer to the clean air and beauty of the forest. Along with elementary and secondary education, her studies include several fields of science, Spanish, middle eastern dance, yoga, and aesthetics. Elementary Education is the degree she finally decided to put a frame around. This will be her third year teaching at La Tierra, but her first year as the sixth and seventh grade teacher. Teri Lynn loves inspiring students to move through the world with kindness and confidence, and she encourages creativity and the use of wild imagination along the way. She is a lifelong learner herself and is passionate about education. Outside of La Tierra, Teri Lynn can be found writing while her tea gets cold, conducting delicious science experiments in her kitchen, or completely lost in a book.


Tasha Weeks – 6/7 Math Instructor and Art Teacher



Denise Bennett – Title 1 Teacher


Denise has been a paraprofessional at La Tierra Community School since 2013. She loves helping out wherever she is needed! Her experience working with children began in Colorado in 1997, teaching 3 year-olds to ski! Wanting to know more about children, and how they learn, she took a full-time job at the ski resort’s Children’s Center and later in the early learning center at the local high school. In 2009 she received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Education, graduating Phi Theta Kappa with a 4.0 GPA and moved on to teach in an International Baccalaureate elementary school program. She finds the knowledge she gains from professional development most beneficial when it is paired with the invaluable lessons she learns working with children and their families. Starting in 2020, she will be assessing and instructing students in La Tierra’s Title 1 program.  “I feel lucky to have found an enlightened educational environment here at La Tierra!


Cyndi Reynolds – Special Education Coordinator and Teacher


Cyndi Reynolds is enthusiastically returning for her 6th year to serve La Tierra Community School as the Special Education Coordinator and Teacher. After taking a year to gain further experience in the field, she recognized that the passion and joy she felt working with the staff, families, and students of La Tierra Community School, is irreplaceable. Ms. Reynolds is a native of California, who obtained her B.A. in English, Special Education Teaching Credential, and M.A. in Applied Psychology from schools on the west coast. She has been a special educator for over 16 years, including 8 years at schools that practice Expeditionary Learning pedagogy. With a background serving students of all disability areas in cognitive, developmental, social and behavioral domains, she is excited to use her unique expertise to serve the individual needs of the student population at La Tierra Community School. When she is not teaching, she can be found hiking with her dog, reading a good book, or spending time with friends.


Ilaiza Cochrane – Spanish Teacher