Meet The Team
Hi my name is Deborah Hurn and I was born in New York City. I attended and graduated from a mid western college with a BFA in Art-graphic design. The love of natural beauty in the hills and mountains is what drew me to this area!
I taught preschool at an accredited nature based program in New Canaan, CT. I also worked as a special ed teachers assistant for a couple of years helping children with learning differences become successful in a regular education setting. I love working with children, their energy and curiosity inspire me daily!
I have volunteered since 2008 at an adaptive alpine ski program at Mt Snow in Vermont. I hope to continue with this type of program through Eagle Mount at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky ski areas.
Cooking for family and friends, walking my rescue dogs, reading, playing the piano and knitting are how I relax. Looking forward to exploring the area and getting to know this welcoming and warm community of Bozeman!
Hello, my name is Savanah Duell and I am a teacher apart of ZALA, ZAC, and teaching gymnastics to the children! I was a gymnast for almost 10 years, and I have been coaching gymnastics for a long time! I grew up in Washington, and graduated high school in Ronan Mt! I am a junior at MSU majoring in elementary education with a specialization in early childhood! I have had experience in the early childhood setting for about 1.5 years, and I love working with children because I learn so much and I love watching them learn!
Rebekah Nelson is the President of the Zoot Adventure Learning Academy. She spent three years bringing the vision and dream of ZALA to fruition, which achieved a joint goal for her and her husband Chris (who is Founder and CEO of Zoot Enterprises). Rebekah is a passionate advocate for healthy work/life balance and creating safe, nurturing child care for the community. This passion guides her as she steers ZALA through its daily operations and long-term planning.
Hello, my name is Rhiannon Reardon. I am the Director at ZALA. In 2007 I graduated from MSU-Great Falls with an Associates of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. My experience with children stems from being a stay at home mom with my own children to owning and operating a group home daycare (12-16 kids) for the past 13 years. My passion is the formative years of young children. I participate in the Early Childhood Project’s Practioner Registry, where I maintain a level 2 based upon the training credentials I commit to annually.
One day I hope to live in a tropical location where I can soak up the sun in a hammock strung between two palm trees and enjoy the breeze rolling in off the ocean.
Hello! My name is Megan Hohn and I am the Assistant Director and the Lead Teacher in the Preschool Room. In 2015, I graduated with degrees in Early Childhood/Special Education and Elementary Education. I currently hold an active teaching license in Montana. Over the last seven years working with children professionally, it has been a joy and great learning experience teaching in a variety of school, afterschool, and summer program settings. Since moving to Bozeman, I have spent two wonderful summers as a Summer Camp Instructor at the Museum of the Rockies and a school year as the Lead Teacher in a Toddler Room. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, camping, reading, and road tripping back to South Dakota to see family and friends. I am so thrilled to start this new adventure here at ZALA with all of your amazing little ones!
Hi! I’m Marisa Smith and I am the lead teacher in the infant room. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Community Health and a minor in Human Development. I have worked with children since my sophomore year of high school, but professionally have worked with children a little over 2 years. I have loved every minute of it! When I’m not loving on kiddos I’m known to be giving love to my two dogs. A German Shepard named Daisy and a Bassador named Duke!
Hello, my name is Laura Tuininga. I am excited to be working in all the classrooms and getting to know all the kids! My experience with children started after eighth grade when I worked for a summer day camp. From there, I have babysat many children and have worked as a counselor at my church’s summer Bible camp for almost 6 years in a row. I am very eager to learn and grow with your kids and the whole ZALA family!
Hello, my name is Josephine Daenen and I am an assistant teacher for the ZALA classes. I am currently a sophomore at MSU studying Elementary Education. I have always loved working with children and started babysitting at the age of 14. I have a lot of experience with working with children of all ages from as young as 1 years old up to 13 year olds. When I was 14 I became a camp counselor at an acting camp ,Equinox, of which I started attending as a camper when I was in second grade. Along with that camp I also worked at Spanish Peaks with their kids camp for a summer. I have also volunteered and worked at the preschool I graduated from alongside my mom and my five year old corgi Bentley. I am so excited and am loving every second of my time here getting to know all of your kiddos. currently a sophomore at MSU studying Elementary Education.
Hi! My name is Dierdre Lee and I am from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I earned my Masters degree in Occupational therapy in 2017 and have worked in both early childhood and pediatric outpatient settings. It is my greatest joy to see children not only reach their developmental milestones, but surpass them by fostering an environment that motivates them to explore, learn, and overcome challenges. I am excited to work with the staff at ZALA and look forward to helping your children learn and grow.
Mary Alice Blythe
Hi, I'm Mary Alice and I am an Early Childhood Teacher at ZALA. I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Conservation from Virginia Tech in 2017. I became a nanny shortly after and have been in childcare of some capacity ever since. I moved to Bozeman from Virginia in June 2019 to be a live-in nanny for the summer. I then took a position as a Teaching Assistant at Merry Hearts Waldorf Nature School, where I worked for the past year. When I'm not working, I love to be outside in nature with my border collie puppy, Goose. I am super excited to start this adventure at ZALA and get to know and grow with all of the kids!
My name is Faith Nelson and I will be working as a ZALA camp counselor for this summer. I recently graduated from Bozeman High School, and will be attending MSU this fall. I have been babysitting and caring for children for eight years and in that time have acquired a well-rounded set of skills. When I am not babysitting for families, including my own, I can be found reading or being out in the beautiful Montanan outdoors with my family and our three dogs, Rebel, Izzy and Duke.
Hi! I’m Kate Newton, and I am excited to be the Assistant Teacher in the Bridge Room! I have been a Registered Nurse for 38 years, 25 of those years in Bozeman. Since graduating from the University of Arizona, Tucson, my Nursing career has given me many varied and interesting experiences. For the past year I have had the pleasure of refocusing my professional life and fulfilling my passion to work in Early Childhood Education in a Preschool/Daycare setting. I have found that my broad Nursing background has given me a strong foundation for my work caring for and nurturing the growth of young children. I have also enjoyed working with children in my church, and raising our 2 daughters. My time at home involves family, walks with our young Double Doodle Sadie, loving our 3 cats, and working on my latest crochet or garden project. My favorite Bozeman destination is Hyalite Reservoir. I am looking forward to many outdoor walks with the children in our beautiful Zoot surroundings!
HI! My name is Juliet Gleason, and I will be working in the Bridge classroom. I have many years of working with children, beginning with babysitting when I was a teenager. Recently, I've spent the last few years working as a swim instructor for the city of Bozeman. I also ran the aftercare program for a local montessori school, and have nannied for families every now and again.
When I'm not with kiddos you can find me on roller skates playing derby for the Gallatin Roller Derby team, or hanging out with my two cats, Poppy and Fat Francis. I am so happy to be a member of the ZALA team, and I'm so excited to be a part of the lovely learning that happens in Bridge!