Meet the Team


Kathryn Dennett Carpenter, MAT, LCSW

Kathryn is a practicing psychotherapist in private practice, a mother, and an educator. She has taught place-based education to PreK and elementary aged students, visual arts at middle school and high school, and psychology and clinical practices at the college level. She is thrilled to be a part of creating Engelmann Mountain School because her vision of education and nature are so aligned, and she spent 3 years growing the Silverfork Co-op into Engelmann with the help for great educators and board members. In her free time, she enjoys exploring nature, skiing, and traveling with her husband and daughter. She is excited to share her love of nature, visual arts, and thinking with the next generation. Both Kathryn and her sister Sarah Cookler grew up in Vermont in a family that ran an international girl’s camp where the natural world, physical activities, and new experiences combined to build confidence and learning.

Sarah Cookler, PA-C
Vice Chairwoman

Sarah shares her time working as a Physician Assistant in a busy Emergency Department, coaching a youth ski mountaineering team, and spending time with her husband and young son in the mountains. Her love of the mountains pushed her to become a nationally ranked Ski Mountaineering athlete and she has travelled internationally to race. She loves to teach, from medical students to young ski mountaineer athletes, and even the violin. Sarah is excited to be part of the Engelmann Mountain School to help develop a learning environment for youngsters that emphasizes exploration and adventure in nature.

Emily Ford MEd


Emily is an educator, naturalist, and outdoorswoman. Having earned an MEd in Environmental Education and Non-Profit Administration, supporting Engelmann’s curricula, board, and day-to-day teaching is her favorite way to be involved in the community. She has guided multi-day river trips, instructed thousands of students in the rugged North Cascades mountains, facilitated field studies courses across the west, and contributed to community-based conservation programs abroad. She believes that people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have a fundamental right to access outdoor learning spaces, where they can grow a deeper connection to nature, to themselves, and to their communities. Her favorite outdoor activity and thing to teach is bird watching – from bikes, boats, on foot, or even through the kitchen window!

Kate Charyk MS, LCGC


Originally from Washington state, Kate spent 6 years in Boston pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in genetic counseling. She moved to Utah in 2011 and quickly fell in love with the wild places in this state.  Depending on the season, you can find her skiing, hiking, trail running, or scrambling on red rock.  She also loves to knit and has no shortage of handmade sweaters, socks, and hats.  Kate currently works for a large reference laboratory in Salt Lake City, providing support to clinicians for an expanding menu of genetic tests.  She recently became a mother and hopes to model a lifelong love of learning and creativity to her daughter.  Kate is excited to help the Engelmann Mountain School fulfill its mission and grow deep roots in the Brighton community.

Board Members

Sam Wittke

Sam is a part-time manager for a vacation rental company in the Wasatch mountains, an aspiring writer, and a terrain park worker at Brighton Ski Resort. He spends almost all of his time in the mountains and loves to teach and learn. He studied literature and film at the University of Utah and loves kids. He is excited to be a part of Engelmann Mountain School and believes that it offers one of the best education models to help children engage with one another in a unique way, as well as cultivate aspects of character and creativity that are so often neglected in the world today.

Student representative 

Anders Carlson 

Anders is the student liaison for our board and helps us see the school from the perspective of the student. He is a widely creative kid whose skills vary from cooking to blacksmithing to inspiring the younger kids in the neighborhood to ride bikes, be kind to one another, and love the natural world. After leaving public school, Anders’ curiosity has flourished and we see first-hand how, as humans, we all want to learn. He is an inspiration to us all and we are so lucky to have his ideas on the board. 

Emeritus Board Members: We are so thrilled to have Holly Carlson and Grete Eliassen, both part of the founding board, stay on in an Emeritus status as our board and school continue to grow!

Holly Carlson

Holly is a passionate and creative person and is the inspiration for starting our school here in the mountains with autonomy, creativity, and curiosity. Holly and her son Anders are the reason we took this leap to create Engelmann Mountain School and we are so lucky to share in her/their vision(s). Holly is an avid outdoors person, beautiful skier, Utah native, and entrepreneur. She is a coach for the local SkiMo team and go-to person in our neighborhood with talents varying from visual arts to physical movement. Holly has helped kids grow, design houses, run businesses, and is a dedicated mom, wife, and her own person. She is excited to see this school grow from an idea to a real thing!

Grete Eliassen

Grete is a 6-time X Games medalist in slopestyle and halfpipe skiing living in Brighton, Utah with her two small boys. She was born into a Norwegian/American family and graduated in “frifluftsliv” (Free Air Life) from Oppdal Vidergaende Skole in Oppdal Norway. She moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah where she graduated from the David Eccles School of Business. Grete wants to make sure her children have a similar outdoor lifestyle and the experiential learning she experienced in Norway. Therefore, she is actively involved with the Engelmann Mountain School as a parent and a school board member.


We look forward to continuing to fine-tune our team as we grow!

Private School Principal and Curriculum Developer

Kathryn Dennett Carpenter, MAT, LCSW
Bio Above

Private School Health Director

Sarah Cookler PA-C

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Pre-K Teacher

Nicole Anacker

Nicole grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and that is where her love for the outdoors grew. She joined an environmental club in high school, and it quickly became a passion. At one point, all of her trash from one year fit inside a small mason jar! This love for the environment spurred her to attend the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied Sustainable Environmental Design. While at school, she led the garden club, and loved getting to watch children learn from the outdoors in East Oakland. 

After graduation, she moved to Utah to become a ski instructor. Once in Utah, she led youth summer camps in Park City in a community garden. She loves getting to utilize place-based education at Engelmann Mountain School and watch how each student is allowed to grow their own interests. When she’s not teaching, you can find her skiing or cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking or mountain biking in the summer. Her dog loves to accompany her on winter and summer outings. She is a recycling whiz, feel free to ask any recycling questions you may have!

Part-Time Teaching and Curriculum Development

Emily Ford MEd

Bio Above

Faculty and Staff Accomplishments for the 2021-2022 Academic Year!

  • Emily Ford received a grant from the Cornell Ornithology Lab to teach a unit on birds!
  • Sarah Cookler and Kathryn Carpenter received a grant from Petzl for Nordic gear and snowshoes so the kids can “access the inaccessible” for a unit on snow for the 2022-2023 school year!
  • Sarah Cookler raced SkiMo in Italy, ran the Powder Keg (a national qualifying SkiMo race) right here in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and ran the Silverfork SkiMo Team for another successful year!
  • Nicole Anacker completed the Introduction to Place-Based Education course through Teton Science School (TSS) and attended the Loose Parts evening course with TSS!
  • Kathryn Carpenter presented at “Story-Time” for the Teton Science School recounting a Place-Based Educational Project with the EMS students; she attended the Introduction to Place-Based Education course and Loose Parts seminar with Teton Science School, and collaborated with Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, TreeUtah, and Arbor Concepts for an in-depth PBE unit on Trees (see more on our blog). She mentored Kamiya Peterson, our amazing intern from Westminster College during the fall semester in place-based education for our youngest learners. Kathryn worked to engage our students with diversity present right here in our greater community. Outreach included to our local community members, Spanish speaking communities in greater Salt Lake, and Utah indigenous communities to help highlight connections, increase understanding, and hopefully help our students become people who will make the world a better place for all, in years to come.
  • Our board members worked to make connections with each student and their families, bringing community, connection, and engagement.
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