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  • Merit Preparatory Academy

Meet Our New Teachers!

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

We are thrilled that several new teachers will be joining us for the upcoming school year! Each of them comes to Merit with impressive professional and educational experiences, a passion for education, and a strong commitment to our mission values. Please join us in welcoming them to our Merit family!

Aloha, everyone! My name is Iwalani Ahuna. I am your new “Foodie” Culinary Arts teacher, and I am so excited to be part of Merit Academy Ohana (Family)! My goal is to have fun and to have each of my students know that they are “Dreamers” because “Dreamers make wonderful things!” Let’s make this a wonderful learning experience and enjoy every foodie adventure.

Hello! My name is Kate Allen, and I'm so excited to be here at Merit! I'll be teaching English 11, English 11 Honors, and the electives Journalism, Mythology, and Film Analysis. I attended BYU before transferring and graduating from Utah State up in Logan (I refuse to choose a side as I loved both schools!). When I'm not in my classroom (room 201), you can find me outside up in the mountains hiking, thrifting old treasures, discovering new-to-me old music, or curled up at home soaking up a good book or movie. I can't wait to meet each of you this year—we're going to have a great time expanding our minds!

Hello! I'm Mrs. Clawson, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to teach English at Merit. I've spent the last few years teaching at BYU, but I miss teaching high school, so I'm excited to come back. I live in the area surrounding Merit and have loved watching all the goings on there over the years. It feels like a great fit to be a part of that learning community. I love all things creative (especially music, art, and baking) and am often found with my nose in a book. I look forward to a year of progress and growth with you and your families!

Hello! My name is Sydni Fawson, and I am thrilled to be joining the Merit community this year! I graduated from BYU with a degree in Social Science Teaching and love helping students learn more about the world around us. Though originally from Northern Utah, I have lived around the country. I love learning about and exploring new places, reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with my family. Building positive relationships and nurturing a genuine love for learning are at the core of my teaching philosophy. I believe that all students can succeed when given the right tools, resources, and a safe and fun learning environment. Merit does a fantastic job at providing those resources for students, all while building a fun and close-knit community. I’m so excited to be a part of Merit’s team, and I can’t wait to meet you all soon!

Hello, Merit! My name is Shayla Heiss. Apart from my passion for teaching, and I love reading, playing video games, and watching TV. I also enjoy traveling to new places and being outdoors whenever possible. I am so excited to be teaching this year and look forward to getting to know the kids and supporting them in their learning needs!

My name is Divya Muthiah, and I hold a Master's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Anna University, India. I secured the 10th overall rank in the state, where I had the opportunity to learn and understand various programming languages, algorithms, and software development. With two years of industrial experience as a software developer at Verizon Data Services, India, I can bring real-world examples and insights into the classroom, making the subject matter more relatable and practical for my students. Additionally, I have one year of educational experience as an Assistant Professor at a university. During this time, my passion for teaching grew, leading me to choose teaching as my career. I am thrilled to be joining Merit as a new Computer Science teacher. I firmly believe that my experiences can further enrich the students' understanding and appreciation of the subject. My primary goal as a teacher is to cultivate a love for computer science in each of my students and equip them with the knowledge and skills to excel in this field. I am excited to embark on this educational journey together and look forward to making a positive impact on the lives of my students. Thank you, and I can't wait to meet all of you!

Hello, I'm Coach David Reichner. I've been a board member, assistant superintendent, Saturday school principal, athletic director, district psychologist, teacher, and coach with 15 different universities & K–12 schools over the past 25 years. I have consulted and helped build universities and K–12 schools from the ground up, acquiring facilities, hiring staff, creating academic/athletic departments, and recruiting thousands of students. There's nothing I haven't been part of in education at the high school or collegiate levels. You will see me in the gym with the youngest of my seven kids, Matthew (10). Matthew loves walking the halls of Merit because of all the images of Knights and Castles. It would seem he is a future Knight himself. I'm excited to join you this year and be a part of your school community!

I’m Miss Carol Sanderson. I’ll be teaching American Sign Language 1. It will be the first time ever at Merit Academy! We are excited. I have worked at various higher education, organizations, K-12, and more. I love to see students evolve in their point of view every year! I hold a Masters of Education from the University of Utah. I reside in Payson, UT. I love the outdoors: hiking, skiing, traveling, kayaking, rafting, swimming, and camping. I also love to paint and make environment-friendly jewelry.

Hello! My name is Shanae Taylor, and I am so excited that I get to teach your child this year at Merit

Academy! A few FUN FACTS about me:

  • I got married during Covid to my best friend, David Taylor!

  • David and I love all things outdoors including hiking, trail running, camping, etc., and love to do it all with our adorable Bernadoodle dog, Hobbs.

  • I was a Cougarette and a Cheerleader during my time at BYU and absolutely cherish those experiences.

  • This is my first year at Merit Academy and I am so excited to be a KNIGHT!

Before I was born, my mom was a math teacher, so with her help, I grew up really enjoying math.

I learned at a young age that everyone can be good at math if they have a good teacher and a desire to learn. This is one of the reasons that I became a math teacher. I believe that math can be extremely hard and frustrating if you aren’t provided the support you need to learn, but on the other hand, can be such an exciting and beautiful experience if you are provided the opportunity for it to be that. I hope that together we can provide that experience for your child!

Hi! My name is Taylor (Tollestrup) Christensen. I’m from San Diego, California, and I absolutely love being a teacher. I grew up as the oldest of eight kids in my family, attended college in Hawaii where I played basketball, and then transferred to BYU, Provo, where I finished my degree. I love to read, write, paint, and do anything outside. I cannot wait for an amazing school year this year!

Hello, everyone! My name is David Wiseman, and it has been my privilege to serve in a variety of capacities at Merit over the past year and a half. I'm so excited to add teaching to that list, as I will have the opportunity to teach Digital Marketing (T3) and Online Learning (T4) this year. Before coming to Merit, I served in a wide range of professional teaching and administrative roles over a span of nearly two decades, and I continue to teach courses in Latin American history, literature, and culture at Brigham Young University. In my free time, I enjoy running, creating music, raising farm animals, engaging in community service, and spending time with my wife, Heather, and my six children.


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