Teton Valley Community School

Where Learning Comes to Life

Administrative Staff

  • Michelle Heaton

    Head of School                                 
    B.A. Environmental Studies, Sonoma State University
    Teton Science Schools Graduate Program
    M.Ed., Lesley University
                     Ph.D. Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England (in progress)


    An innovative educator, Michelle is committed to teaching and learning that promotes agency, social justice, and sense of place. After 18 years as a teacher and administrator in New England prep schools and executive director of a farm-based education program, Michelle is thrilled to be returning to the Tetons with her husband, Gardner, and three children, Owen, Winter and Jackson. Michelle first discovered her love of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as part of the inaugural cohort of Teton Science School’s graduate program. After several years working as a NOLS instructor and TSS field educator, Michelle moved to the Boston area to get her Masters in Education, teach science, and develop educational programming that better connects students to the natural world.  A lifelong learner, Michelle’s award winning action research project on boys as global citizens was published in 2016 and she is currently working on a doctoral degree in environmental studies at Antioch University New England. Outside of school, Michelle loves hiking, climbing, and skiing with friends and family in the mountains, playing with her dogs and completing really hard puzzles.

  • Erin Tanzer

    Admissions and Operations
    M.A., Place-Based Education, Prescott College
    Teton Science Schools Graduate Program
    B.A., English Literature and Secondary Education, Saint Michael’s College


    Erin has taught Pre-Kindergarten at the Teton Valley Community School since 2011. She works daily to nurture a love of learning in her students through interdisciplinary project-based teaching that is fueled by children’s own questions, innate curiosities, and meaningful hands-on experiences. Erin grew up in the rural forests of New Hampshire where she began her powerful connection to nature through play and adventure. Her love of the wilderness and learning brought her west after college, first to Jackson Hole and then to Teton Valley, Idaho. An intensive study of Place-Based Education at both Teton Science Schools' Graduate Program and Prescott College helped her to learn more about fostering “sense of place” development in students of all ages. Erin's teaching experience spans field science education, traditional classrooms and progressive school settings from preschool to high school. Through this she has developed a diverse expertise in the fields of Place-based education and early childhood education. Her interests include backcountry skiing, poetry, birding, gardening and exploring the special places in Teton Valley with her husband and their daughter.

  • Raneta Kinney

    Program Administrator                                 
    A.A. Early Childhood Education, Arapaho Community College
    Certified Doula/Birth Coach and Childbirth Educator

    Raneta has centered her life around kids and learning since she can remember. After studying early childhood education, she worked as a Pre-K teacher, summer camp instructor in the Rocky Mountains and as a nanny. Raneta believes education should be fun, engaging, active, and personal. She spent years promoting to the Colorado legislature as a community organizer. After moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota, she became actively involved with the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership program, or HOBY, focused on developing leadership skills, critical thinking, and service in high school students. Raneta served in various roles, including Board Secretary and Director of Enrollment, growing the program from 75 students to 125. As she started having children of her own, Raneta shifted her attention to childbirth, becoming a certified Bradley Method childbirth instructor and doula, as well as a leader for the La Leche League in Northern Colorado. Now that her children are older, she is excited to return to education in her role at TVCS, managing enrichment programs and using the organizational skills honed by getting her four children to all their various activities to keep the TVCS office running smoothly. Outside of TVCS, Raneta is still running her kids to gymnastics, swimming, skiing, rock climbing, painting lessons, etc., and loves to join her family out in nature, exploring the mountains together in every season.

  • Leilani Daniels

    Learning Needs Specialist                                 
    B.A. and Certification in Elementary Education, Fort Lewis College
    M.A. Literacy Education, Idaho State University (in progress)

    Leilani, originally from Boise, Idaho chose southern Colorado to attend college. After graduating with a B.A. and a certification in elementary education, she made her way back to Idaho with her husband in 2009. She is a mother to three amazing boys, who keep her busy with skiing, climbing and motocross. Leilani has been in education for more than 15 years. This includes teaching in both public and private school settings. In addition, she has served as an administrator at a private school for both preschool and elementary age children where she worked with parents, students and teachers to create a positive learning experience for all. Her teaching career has always been geared toward the empowerment of students and their families by encouraging young minds to grow into well-rounded, responsible and successful individuals. She is currently starting a Masters program in Literacy Education, which will help her continue to be an effective change agent in the lives of young learners as she begins her new shared position in the Customized Learning Program at TVCS.

  • Kristi Fisher

    Customized Learning Coordinator                                 
    B.S. Conservation of Wildland Resources, University of Washington
    Master of Social Work, University of Wyoming

    Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Kristi spent her post-college years working as a field instructor for wilderness therapy and traditional wilderness programs, including the National Outdoor Leadership School. Realizing her passion for working with children and their families, she spent the next 15 years working with children and obtaining a Master of Social Work. This enabled her to gain experience in a residential school for children with developmental disabilities, an elementary school for children with autism, a child advocacy center, as well as three years as a high school counselor. Kristi and her husband, Mark, have called Teton Valley their home since 2002. Since then, they've added one dog, two children, and eight chickens to their family. In her free time, Kristi loves backcountry skiing, mountain biking, tending her garden and small orchard, and spending time outside exploring with her kids, Owen and Zoe.

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