Shelly JenkinsCustomer Service Team LeaderShelly JenkinsCustomer Service Team Leader
Growing up I always surrounded myself with good books. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom reading to me from Dr. Seuss and The Berenstain Bears. As a teen, it was not uncommon for me to read two or three books a day! While I don’t have time to do that any longer, I do still love to curl up with a book and see what adventures I get to go on through its pages. How lucky I am to have found an opportunity to work here at Williamsburg where I get to work with amazing people, get exposed to some great books, and interact with incredible youth and their parents!
I currently reside in Northern Utah where I enjoy looking at the beautiful mountains each day. My husband and I are super busy raising and homeschooling nine super awesome kids. There is never a dull moment in our home! In between it all, I also love running through summer rainstorms, sitting around a campfire with family and/or friends, meditating by a river, laughing with my family, and enjoying late night chats with my kids.
Liz KirkHeadmaster and Middle School Co-FounderLiz KirkHeadmaster and Middle School Co-Founder
Several years ago, I met with a fascinating woman to talk about my personal mission in life. She and her husband are among the most prominent of social connectors – friends with several US Presidents, on the Academy Awards committee, active on Capitol Hill. As we sat down in my office in Washington, DC, she helped me open up to the many possibilities for my future. I thought about what I wanted to do next. The answer was so clear to me in that moment and always had been – education reform. Almost in tears, I decided right there that whatever it took, I would find a meaningful role in education. Something totally different than I had experienced in my early years teaching in the public and charter school systems. If there were none, I’d scratch something out for myself.
Within a couple of weeks, I was sitting down with Pete Jensen, James Ure and Erin Mwanje to discuss co-founding the new middle school. Creating the school was among the most difficult and rewarding work of my life. The WA Middle School is a place where my ideals from childhood came alive. I am so excited to take move to my next adventure in the challenging role of Headmaster at the High School. I love working with students and writing curriculum. I love education, and am constantly working on my own! I studied English Literature in my undergraduate program, and earned a master’s degree in Education a few years later. I grew up in Texas and have lived in New York City, Washington DC, and most recently in San Diego. We love travel and I’ve explored China’s political history and Italy’s magnificent artistic history while in those countries. These experiences have helped prepare me for the rich discussions we’ll be having in the classroom, as well as the exciting journey we’ll be taking together this year! I’m so excited to be working with the exceptional students at the Williamsburg Academy!
Peter A. JensenMiddle School DirectorPeter A. JensenMiddle School Director
I grew up in rural farm country in Riverside Utah. I come from a family of nine brothers and one sister. After school I spent two years in London, England. I then attended Utah State University, ultimately receiving my degree in Political Science. While at school I met and married my wife Tammy. After graduation, I received my commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and proceeded to spend six years on active duty. While serving I have had the opportunity to deploy three times, twice to Iraq and once to the former Yugoslavia. After leaving active duty, I ran a private school in Northern Utah for two years. I currently live in St. George, Utah and have three girls aged eleven, eight and six. I still do reserve work for the military, spend lots of time reading and studying, but mostly love being with my family.
James UreCo-founderJames UreCo-founder
I enjoy students. I love mentoring students, rock climbing with students, laughing with students, building courses for students, hanging out with students, and learning from students. I’m passionate about educational innovation, the outdoors, entrepreneurship, authenticity, and developing meaningful relationships. In my youth, I experienced both public and homeschool. I wish I would have had more resources as a kid so I would have been better prepared for my college experience (I studied English at BYU and then graduated from South Texas College of Law, with an emphasis in Constitutional Law). After law school, I returned to the magical deserts of Southern Utah to join my close friend, Pete Jensen, in co-founding Williamsburg Academy and Elevation Outdoors, which provide students the kinds of experiences I would have loved as a youth. Right now I’m Headmaster at Williamsburg Academy.
I love teaching online, and feel honored that in 2012, teachers and parents nominated me for National Online Teacher of the Year, and I made it to the top five. I was also honored with the Platinum Award in Online Teaching from the United States Distance Learning Association.
When I’m not teaching or exploring the desert near my home in Saint George, Utah, I’m joking with my seven brothers, telling my four kiddos a story, or watching movies with my sweetheart, Angela, who fills up my life with smiles, even when I don’t deserve it.
Nels Peter JensenCo-Founder & CEONels Peter JensenCo-Founder & CEO
My favorite people are my family, friends, and students. My favorite things are mountains, bicycles, and books. I love to do any activity that combines my favorite people and favorite things. I also love working with my team at Williamsburg to create high quality and flexible online learning options––options that weren’t available during my youth. Growing up I participated in both homeschool and public school. I am grateful to my parents for introducing me to some of the world’s great literature. Tom Sawyer and David Copperfield are two books that have significantly impacted my life. Although I had many excellent learning opportunities at home and in school, I longed for more interaction with like-minded peers and adults that had expertise in areas my parents didn’t, and were passionate about life and learning. I find satisfaction and meaning in helping to provide a positive and challenging learning environment for our students.
I studied liberal arts in college, and went on to earn an MBA from the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas. After Acton, I wanted to combine my passion for Socratic learning, educational entrepreneurship, and the outdoors. This led to my work as co-founder of Williamsburg Academy and Elevation Outdoors. I live in Saint George, Utah, with my wife and five children.
Adam HailstoneCMO & Director of LeadershipAdam HailstoneCMO & Director of Leadership
When I was 14 years old, I went through a dramatic change in my life. I realized it was up to me to get an education—no one else was going to do it for me. I say “dramatic” because I went from a student who was dragging his feet and learning practically nothing, to a student who was enthusiastic about learning, life, and having impact. Since then I have sought to help others push through educational, personal and cultural barriers to obtain greater learning. During college I was able to take that desire to audiences around the United States and Canada. With my professors, and eventually on my own, I spoke to groups about education, politics, worldviews and the direction of our society. It was a fulfilling time in my life.
I live in Cedar City, Utah, where I graduated from George Wythe University with a BA in Liberal Arts. After college, I started two small businesses. I had big plans and it was a great learning experience, but something was missing. I longed for the opportunity to once again help people obtain a greater education. Then, a few years ago, I sold one business and closed the other to join the faculty of Williamsburg Academy full time. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love what I do! I get to help students look at the world, its people, cultures, problems and beauty and show them how to navigate it and the opportunities they have to change it. My goal as a mentor is to help students to look inwardly and see themselves as they really are and then decide to become what they see.
Ben BrownCurriculum Director & MentorBen BrownCurriculum Director & Mentor
I started reading about the same time I started talking, and I’ve loved doing both ever since. I have this insatiable hunger to know everything and so I read all sorts of topics––history, philosophy, psychology literature, business, leadership, science, current events, etc. I can’t stop at just learning things though; as soon as I’ve learned something new it wants to come roaring out of my mouth to the first person I see, regardless of how interested they are. So, mentoring was a natural fit for me: it gave me a venue to teach and a reason to learn. I studied liberal arts in college and received a BA from George Wythe University in 2010.
I grew up in a large family on a small ranch in Wyoming, where the weather was cold and windy and the sunsets were beautiful. I got bored with my homeschool curriculum when I was 17 and started attending the local college, where I discovered debate. I went on to win the Silver Award at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament in 2007, and debate is one of my favorite subjects to teach. During college I spent a summer in Uganda, Africa, teaching teacher development courses to primary and secondary school teachers. I ran from monkeys and warthogs, whitewater rafted the Nile, and wooed a fellow traveler, Ellie. We later married, and now have three kids––Charly, Malcolm, and Murphy––and live in Saint George, Utah. Besides reading, I also enjoy rock climbing, yoga, and Saturday morning hikes with my family, and I have a huge man-crush on Abraham Lincoln. Before I die I would like to rock climb the Great Wall of China, do yoga in a Hindu temple in India, and backpack all over Iceland.
Gary ArnellChief Technology OfficerGary ArnellChief Technology Officer
I grew up in southern California where I gained a love for the outdoors (especially the beach and Santa Monica mountains) early in life. I completed my undergraduate studies at Utah State University, where I studied business and computer science. After graduating I returned to southern California where I worked as a software engineer and project manager. For the last nine years I’ve combined my passion for technology and education, working at schools in California and Utah.
I love teaching at Williamsburg, and––unable to stifle the inner-geek––also oversee all technology concerns for Williamsburg Academy, including the development of our Student Information Services website. I am married to the former Liesl Chambers. We reside with our six children in Cedar City, UT. I love young people and the outdoors–– I’m a volunteer in a local BSA troop and encourage the boys to spend as much time as possible in the beautiful red rock of southern Utah. I enjoy spending time with my family, especially if it involves canyoneering, hiking, backpacking, reading and dancing.