Who We Are

David Manahan - Director

Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS) is excited to introduce you to our new Founding Director, David Manahan.

Mr. Manahan arrives with nearly 20 years of educational experience in various roles and institutions. His background in outdoor and experiential education includes facilitation at environmental learning centers, curriculum development and start up, group and corporate team building, and educator training.

Read more: David Manahan - Director

Maura Bannon - K & 1st

Maura Bannon received BAs  in Environmental Ethics and Policy and Spanish from the University of Portland, Oregon.  She earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Masters in Teaching from National University in San Diego, California. Maura has several years of teaching experience with multiple grade levels.  Maura was drawn to SELS  because of the integration of outdoor adventure, community, and project-based learning.  She loves helping students challenge themselves and find their strengths.  In her free time, Maura can be found enjoying the local outdoors with her family trail running, hiking, skiing, and camping.

Elizabeth Bell - K & 1st

IMG 1679Elizabeth Bell comes to Sierra Expeditionary Learning School with 10 years of experience in elementary education, ranging from Adventure-Based Curriculum to international and public school classroom teaching.  Ms. Bell taught Kindergarten, First Grade and multi-age 1-2-3 in India, Vermont and Incline Village.  She was later employed as an Art Teacher for young children at the KidZone Museum, where she taught exploration-based classes and was responsible for creating new policies and programs.  Most recently, Ms. Bell worked as a home-study teacher, guiding her own children on a long-term, multidisciplinary study of local history.  Their culminating project, Going West with the Donners can be viewed on youTube.

Read more: Elizabeth Bell - K & 1st

Maya Holguin - K & 1st

Maya Holguin comes to Sierra Expeditionary Learning School with a wide variety of teaching experiences. She has spent more than 10 years as a classroom educator, working with kindergarten through 3rd grades. She also feels fortunate to have taught in the field of outdoor education and wilderness adventure.

Ms. Holguin is moving from Santa Cruz, California, where she not only grew up, but has spent the past 3 years teaching in the local public schools. She helped develop kindergarten curriculum and also worked closely with 3rd graders on literacy. Last year she particularly enjoyed having daily parent volunteers in her classroom.

Read more: Maya Holguin - K & 1st

Dana Seaborg - 2nd & 3rd

Dana Seaborg was born and raised in Truckee, CA and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. She comes to SELS with a wide range of experience working with elementary age children. Throughout college, Dana lead an after school and Kinder program while she worked toward becoming a teacher. After completing her student teaching at Truckee Elementary, she continued substitute teaching regularly and worked daily with both first and fourth graders on literacy skills. Most recently Dana spent a year teaching second grade in the mountains of Costa Rica. While there, she was able to learn effective and interactive strategies to help English Learners excel in Language Arts. Dana is excited to bring her enthusiasm for teaching and local knowledge to SELS this year.

Diane Welch - 2nd & 3rd

Diane Welch

As one of the founding crew leaders at Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Diane Welch is a veteran teacher of 20 years. Prior to arriving at SELS, Mrs. Welch taught for 8 years at a highly implementing Expeditionary Learning school in Pocatello, ID. Mrs. Welch has a high level of experience designing Learning Expeditions that align with newly implemented Common Core State Standards as well as a deep understanding of Expeditionary Learning practices. She has organized and led many crews on Adventure trips to Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone National Park and Crater's of the Moon National Monument as well as taking her crew rock climbing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, swimming, and camping.

Read more: Diane Welch - 2nd & 3rd

Julie Brisbin - 4th & 5th

At the confluence of her love of teaching and the outdoors, Julie Brisbin found her way into the Sierra Expeditionary Learning School community in 2010 as a Founding Teacher. Julie’s seven years of classroom experience range from not only guiding her students through dynamic thematic units and expeditions, but also coaching positions which include CRT Coach, Team Leader, and PLC Facilitator. Julie has taught locally in Tahoe City and Reno since 2005. Prior to teaching in the classroom, Julie was an Environmental Education/ Adventure Education guide for many outdoor education schools in Montana, Colorado, and Arizona. During Julie’s experience teaching for Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Julie has achieved community accolades for her Fall 2011 Expedition titled “On American Soil,” in which students raised money for the Donner Summit 20-Mile Museum. The class then researched and graphically designed an interpretive sign for their petroglyph site. The sign still stands, prominently featured, at the petroglyph site on Old Hwy 40.

Read more: Julie Brisbin - 4th & 5th

Lynn Akers - 4th & 5th

lynnakersLynn Akers comes to SELS with an expansive resume of experience in the education field, including but not limited to teaching elementary education, leading teacher classes and field work, teaching the G.A.T.E (gifted and talented) program, teaching as a school-wide science teacher, special education paraprofessional, 504 coordinator, leading teachers in outdoor education workshops, board member of S.W.E.P (Sierra Watershed Education Program), successful collaboration in team teaching situations, administrative positions, and mentoring teachers in the preschool field.

Read more: Lynn Akers - 4th & 5th

Reenie McMains - 6th

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From hunkering in bird blinds along the Platte River to night-hiking the Costa Rican rainforests, Reenie McMains has convinced hundreds of young people to come along on her learning adventures. Teaching at SELS is the highlight of her career - Reenie loves working at SELS! It allows her the freedom to create in-depth learning experiences for her students in an environment that emphasizes creativity, caring and adventure. She enjoys the deep involvement of parents and the investment of the entire SELS community in developing children with strength of character and a passion for learning. For her, work is play!

Read more: Reenie McMains - 6th

Zach Williams - 7th

Zach Williams comes to Sierra Expeditionary Learning School with a wide range of experiences in education and the outdoors. Zach taught for several years in Oregon before moving to Truckee in 2011.  He spent the 2011-12 school year as the reading specialist at SELS before moving into the 7th grade classroom.

Zach grew up in Ashland, Oregon and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education at the University of Oregon. He has also coached ski racing for eight winters and has been a raft guide for four summers.  Zach’s love of the outdoors and his passion for hands-on instruction make SELS a perfect fit.  He hopes to combine his youthful sense of adventurism with his zest for expeditionary learning to create acurriculum that is both exciting and engaging to his students.

Mr. Williams and his wife Maggie moved to Truckee in fall of 2011 and are excited to be a part of this amazing community. In his free time, Mr. Williams will be exploring the numerous nearby ski runs, white water rapids, hiking trails, fishing holes, and camping spots that the Tahoe area has to offer.

Alexis Prochko - Phys. Ed.

AlexisAlexis is our enthusiastic and proactive PE teacher. She graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Physical Education, Exercise Science and Wellness. Although she is new to SELS, she has had over 12 years of experience working with children. She has coached sports, run children's fitness programs, and been actively involved with the YMCA.  For two years, she worked with the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe, facilitating education and sports programming through AmeriCorps. Hoping for kids to adopt a healthy life style, Alexis finds creative ways to get kids active and moving. She loves the energy of the kids and has a great time making jokes a part of daily activity. She truly feels lucky to be a part of such an amazing school and leaves each day smiling!

Tiffany Connolly - Reading Specialist

Tiffany Connolly is excited to join the team of exceptional educators at Sierra Expeditionary Learning School. Tiffany earned her Master's Degree in Education and her Teaching Credential from Pepperdine University and she completed her undergraduate work at UCLA. She has been working in education since 2008. Tiffany has been a curriculum coordinator for ski athletes, and has a background teaching 2nd grade. A Southern California native, Tiffany moved to Truckee in 2009 in order to enjoy an active lifestyle. She loves spending time snowboarding, trail running, mountain biking, and enjoying the outdoor life that Truckee provides.

Denise Strecker - Reading Specialist

denise Denise Strecker joined the Sierra Expeditionary Learning School crew as a part-time Reading Specialist. Her background is in education and counseling and has been teaching children and families since 2000. Over the years, she has worked in numerous schools and homes, at a variety of grade levels and age ranges, while serving diverse populations in San Diego and Marin Counties.

At the start of her career, Ms. Strecker provided in-home parent education to low-income, at-risk families on early childhood development and behavior modification. She served as intermediary between clients and community resource providers while facilitating behavioral intervention plans, role modeling, and counseling. In 2005, Denise obtained her Master’s Degree in School Counseling fromthe University of San Diego.

Read more: Denise Strecker - Reading Specialist

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Sierra Expeditionary Learning School
PO Box 2179
Truckee, CA 96160

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SELS is a 501c(3) non-profit corporation, Truckee Charter School Foundation, dba Sierra Expeditionary Learning School. Federal Tax ID: 27-1627347.

For Parents



11603 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
Portable buildings M3-M7

Email: truckeecharter@gmail.com
Phone: (530) 448-8115
Fax: (530) 448-8223
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On top of all the teaching and learning, I'm struck by the joy in the faces of all the children as they go about their quest for knowledge. Thanks to all the courageous and energetic people who had the vision to make this school a reality. With all the challenges the world faces today and predictions of disaster, these committed teachers/staff, these engaged families, and these beautiful children are a beacon of hope.

SELS embodies everything that I feel is important in my child's education and I am so grateful that she has the opportunity to learn in such an enriching environment. Teaching our children how to think and how to treat others is critical to their future success. I am thankful every single day for all the wonderful staff at SELS.

What an amazing place. It has been everything for my son that I had hoped he could experience in school. Great teacher, stimulating learning environment, and a deeply caring and nurturing place.

I am grateful that my child is encouraged to interpret concepts and think about how they apply to his life, not just memorize and repeat material. I love that SELS asks kids to think about who they are and how they contribute to the community, locally and globally.

I greatly appreciate that SELS is a heart-centered school that teaches ethics and values along with academics. That approach makes SELS a unique and special place.

I appreciate all the teachers and staff and their responsiveness. I also appreciate all the work the staff are doing to help the kids figure out how to fill each other's buckets!

Our son is bubbling over with excitement for learning. This environment is gifting him with life long skills to succeed. We are so thankful for this school.

All the Adults and students challenge each other the THINK!

SELS is amazing in the way they teach topics hands on and allow the children to learn in practical settings. We couldn't be happier seeing our son flourish so much! Thank you.

I am very grateful to the SELS staff for offering my 5th grader their hearts, as well as their knowledge. Better yet, they make learning fun and adventurous! My youngster is THRIVING at your wonderful school!!

We are thankful for many wonderful ideals and principles at SELS, but what really brings those into reality is the caring, hard-working teachers and staff. We wouldn't have thought that someone else would care as much about the whole education of our daughter as much as we do, but there is a whole team of such people at SELS.

I am so thankful that my 5th grade daughter is a member and student of this beautiful community and school. She is receiving a fantastic education with hands on learning, caring, understanding, creative, out of the box thinking and intuitive teachers. She feels included, important, confident and is growing tons in her knowledge and place in this wonderful community. Thank you SELS for being an amazing part of my daughter's education and Life!

I truly appreciate all the staff, students, parents and families at SELS. It is these people that make SELS so wonderful.
This has become a new 'family" for us!

I am so grateful for the amazing staff; they are the most amazing guides. It is an inspiration to watch them help our children learn and grow into thoughtful, independent, productive human beings!
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