Academic Team

Gateway’s academic vision is to inspire and engage.
We seek to spark our students’ attention, awaken
critical thinking and make learning come alive.

Casie Buckner-Munteanu, B.A., M.Ed.

Casie Buckner-Munteanu, B.A., M.Ed.

Academic Director

"Education in the 21st century must adapt to the challenges students face in today’s world.  Scientific research on cognitive development has revealed exciting discoveries about the way adolescent brains function and ways to teach the way the brain learns best. The most convincing data show that students learn in a variety of ways and that different learning styles need to be considered when developing curricula and conducting assessments. At Gateway, we design our students’ academic plans to meet all of their unique and individual needs. We also sustain a dynamic balance of challenge and support between teacher and learner to form the basis for a strong and honest relationship that guides the learning process."

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CREDENTIALS

  • Master of Education, in Educational Leadership, Concordia University
  • Master of Arts, in Political Science, University of California Davis
  • Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Whitman College

PHILOSOPHY

Casie is dedicated to holistic education where students, teachers, parents and administrators work together to provide the support students need to succeed. As an educator, Casie seeks to incorporate brain-based research in student learning and, therefore, values constant re-evaluation of standards and curricula to achieve academic excellence. Casie believes we are all a community of learners and that some of the most educational activities happen outside the traditional classroom. As Gateway's Academic Director, Casie strives to inspire a passion for learning and enthusiasm for critical thinking in order to empower the students she serves. Casie leads Gateway's talented and dedicated teaching team. Together, they provide outstanding academic direction, services and growth to Gateway students and their families.

PROFESSIONAL

Casie joined Gateway in 2015.  Her love of teaching began in 1998 when she worked at the American International School of Bucharest, and taught ESL courses in Romania. She taught for several years at the college level, and has also worked in private secondary schools and programs. Casie has taught English, political science, government, economics, and debate. She strives to inspire a passion for learning, self-discovery, and intellectual creativity. Aside from teaching, Casie has worked with students outside of class, through academic advising and college counseling. In her spare time, she also works as a free-lance instructional designer and technical editor, where her fascination with details and grammar are truly appreciated! Casie has coached debate teams, directed summer camps, and provided mentoring and writing assistance to prepare high school seniors for college. 

PERSONAL

Casie loves to be in the outdoors and take in nature.  She has lived in Utah, Oregon, Washington, Northern and Southern California, Hawaii and Romania. As a lifelong learner, Casie enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring new adventures. 

CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS

Learning about current events is a 21st century skill students need to succeed in an ever-changing world. Casie has found that students become more engaged in critical thinking exercises by learning about current events. During a research methods course at Gateway, students were asked to develop opinion papers based on evidence found in current topics in the news. Casie enjoyed watching the “lightbulb go on” when students’ eyes were opened to the world around them.

Kelli Hansen, B.A.

Kelli Hansen, B.A.

Assistant Academic Director and Senior Student Advisor

“I believe we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit.  Once we build a relationship of trust with our students, we can challenge them to find their potential and see the talents within themselves.  I am honored to be part of the team that pushes students to learn their capabilities, discover their talents, and use those skills to create a better future for themselves and others.”

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CREDENTIALS

  •     Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian, University of Utah
  •     Secondary Education Teaching Certificate, University of Utah
  •     Utah Level II Certified Teacher
  •     Licensed to teach secondary English and Italian


PHILOSOPHY
Through her years of experience, Kelli has learned that if a student has the right motivation, the right tools, and the right team on their side, any student can learn. A teenager's "job" is to go to school so success in school is critical to a student's self-esteem. Many of our students, though very bright, have experienced failure at school. This failure has contributed to the emotional difficulties our students are facing. Kelli believes that education has to be part of the cure for our students to achieve long-term success. They must learn to excel in the classroom as students and learners so when they return to their "job" they have the confidence to know they can be successful.

PROFESSIONAL
Kelli joined Gateway in 2014.  She has taught in a variety of settings from elementary school to adult education, but the majority of her experience comes from working with high school-aged students in residential and day treatment programs, which she has been doing since 2000.  She has taught Language Arts and Italian where she enjoys challenging students and preparing them for college or other future plans.
 
PERSONAL
Kelli enjoys biking, running, and swimming, and trains and participates in triathlons.  She also treasures the time she has with her husband and two children.
 
CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS
Shakespeare, for many, is an author that students decide they do not understand right away and then often disregard.  One particular student struggled to understand Shakespeare's stories, but was willing to try.  Kelli retold Shakespeare's stories and helped him understand.  Kelli was then told that this student one day shared in his group therapy session and had compared himself to a character from Hamlet.  He had grasped that the joy in literature is connecting it to the world around them.

Tate Howell, B.S.

Tate Howell, B.S.

Math Teacher

I believe that the pursuit to understand ourselves and our universe through observation, experience, and critical thinking, is not only key to becoming a productive human being, but is the impetus for obtaining a joy for learning. My ultimate goal as a teacher at Gateway Academy is to enable students to become lifelong learners, through creating an environment that promotes authentic personal learning experiences.

 

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CREDENTIALS

  • Bachelor of Science, Composite: Teaching Mathematics/Physical Science/Computer Science; Weber State University
  • Utah Level II Certified Teacher
  • Licensed to Teach Secondary Math, Level III Endorsement

PHILOSOPHY

Tate has a great passion for teaching mathematics. He is fascinated by students’ unique approaches to solving problems. Tate tries to let students lead the discovery of a mathematical concept, before adding more conventional observations to the lesson. He claims that this creates an environment where math can become personally relevant to each student.  Tate believes that teaching and learning are intrinsically bound together and that both learning and teaching need to be constantly adjusted under the scrutiny of logic.  Creating best practices and “good” teaching methods only go so far if authentic learning is not occurring.  Tate understands that adjustments to curriculum must be made in real time in order to meet the needs of a diverse clientele.

 

PROFESSIONAL

Tate recently joined the academic team at Gateway Academy after nearly 20 years of teaching high school math in a local public school. He coached his district’s math team in competition for several years, designed math curriculum for middle school students, and tutored students in all levels of secondary mathematics and science. 

 

PERSONAL

Tate is an accomplished musician. He loves playing guitar and piano, writing music, and playing with his bands. He also is an accomplished water color painter, and specializes in landscapes that represent his beloved home, the State of Utah. In addition, he has a great passion for fishing. He claims that if he could get away with it, he would probably spend all of his time teasing Blue Ribbon trout on the Provo river.

 

CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS

Tate understands that real success can only occur if a student experiences a personal connection with the learning process. He recognizes that this process begins with the teacher/student relationship. Students know right away if you genuinely care about them or not. Once they know that you care, learning becomes a quest to discover, as opposed to a mere chore.

 

 

 

Maureen Conley, B.A.

Maureen Conley, B.A.

English Teacher

Each student's intrinsic linguistic competence allows them to understand language as a means of communication. Every student that steps inside an English class has a natural awareness of the foundational skills necessary to discover deeper meaning from classical and contemporary texts which will allow them to construct insight. Classroom experiences should contribute to students’ ability to acquire a deeper understanding and discernment about themselves, others, and the world around them. The students in Gateway’s community are given opportunities to create a supportive and dynamic meeting space in the classroom, which leads them to important and meaningful self-discovery and learning. I am grateful to be part of the Gateway Academic team whose philosophies coincide with my own about the care and attention students require to finesse the act and art of becoming."

 

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CREDENTIALS

  • Bachelor of Arts in English and History, University of Utah
  • Secondary Education Teaching Certificate, University of Utah
  • Utah Level II Certified Teacher
  • Licensed to teach secondary English and History


PHILOSOPHY

As an educator, Maureen is committed to effective, compelling, and appropriate pedagogical approaches and teaching practices. She believes that the classroom is a space in which young men can safely and confidently participate as individuals, and in the process, create a unique and dynamic classroom community. Maureen understands how the use of technology has shaped and changed students’ ability to participate in the intellectual pursuits and challenges presented in the classroom. Therefore, she adheres to the belief that students need an education which provides the analytical skills necessary for students to evaluate the value and essence of any information put in front of them, regardless of form. As an educator, she understands her responsibility to attend to each student’s learning needs and growth. The work and collaboration of Gateway’s academic team ensures that Maureen’s students receive the instructional guidance and support they need to become accomplished scholars.


PROFESSIONAL

Maureen joined the academic team at Gateway Academy in 2019.  She has taught in both Middle School and High School settings including American Literature, British Literature, Composition, Reading Strategies, and Reading Comprehension classes. She enjoys teaching students about their areas of strength and watching students become more autonomous learners and critical thinkers. 


PERSONAL

Maureen enjoys yoga and meditation, as well as charcoal and pencil drawing. In her free time, she also spends time refining her stained-glass artistry, reading, and watching foreign and indie films. She has lived in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Illinois.


CREATING SUCCESS

Albert Einstein once said, “Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as hard duty.” Maureen believes in creating a respectful, inclusive, and supportive classroom for each student. She knows that the study of English and literature provides students with insight into themselves and their humanity offering them the opportunity to critically observe themselves and society on a more meaningful level. Maureen understands the appropriate guidance students require to gain self-confidence and experience a greater sense of achievement in school turning classroom boredom and drudgery into a compelling, independent, and effective means of acquiring and organizing scholarship.

Eric Harrison, B.S.

Eric Harrison, B.S.

Science Teacher

"My goal as a science teacher is to instill a natural curiosity about the world, and to provide my students with tools to discover answers to future questions. The critical thinking skills learned from the sciences have application to any future career field. My classroom is focused on hands-on, real-world learning that expands students’ minds in a fun, safe, and comfortable environment. I hope to help students to develop an excitement of lifelong learning both in and out of the classroom.

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CREDENTIALS

  • Bachelor of Science, Physics, Utah Valley University

PHILOSOPHY
Eric believes that every student has the potential to accomplish difficult tasks. His role as a teacher is to encourage students to move out of their comfort zones and realize this potential. A successful teacher instills excitement for lifelong learning and for the subject material. He has a strong conviction that more important than the material being taught is the success and wellbeing of each individual student.

PROFESSIONAL
Eric taught physics for American Indian Services to low income Native American students. He also worked in Utah Valley University's math and science labs as a tutor and spent more than 700 hours of one-on-one tutoring and academic advising.

PERSONAL
Eric loves spending time in Utah's beautiful outdoors. On any given weekend he can be found rock climbing, canyoneering, or embarking into some deep cave. He unwinds by playing disc golf, cooking, and spending time with his nieces and nephews. 

CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS
While working for American Indian Services, Eric worked with a student who was severely under grade level on math. Eric took time during that student's homework period to meet with this student and to work with him individually. By the end of the term, this student was helping other students with the same topics he had been struggling with. Eric finds joy in helping students realize the power of learning.


 

 

Joseph Orr, B.A.

Joseph Orr, B.A.

History and Social Studies Teacher

“In my experience, a student’s learning style is like a face or fingerprint. Each is unique and one size will never fit all. I believe that by working with students as individuals we can help each of them succeed and become their best selves. This is especially necessary for adolescent boys in a world that increasingly sees their unique proclivities as a liability, rather than an opportunity. The best education programs are not those that teach the students what to think, but rather those that teach them how to think. Hope for the future can only be built upon a good understanding of the past, and a healthy respect for one another."

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CREDENTIALS

  •     Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Sciences, Utah Valley University

PHILOSOPHY

Joseph believes that the most important thing a person can take from education is an understanding of how to think critically, how to ask questions, and how to think for oneself. A successful student will be one who never stops asking ‘Why?’ As such, he structures his classroom to be a safe, open environment where students can freely express themselves, explore new ideas and challenge assumptions.

PROFESSIONAL

Joseph joined the Gateway academic team in May 2021.  Previous to this role, Joseph taught digital literacy at Hillside Middle School in Salt Lake where he helped students explore media safety and critical thinking in their online interactions. He has always been fascinated by history and politics, and loves teaching social studies.

PERSONAL

Joseph was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up in Utah. Though never a great athlete, he has always loved exercise and enjoyed cross country running in high school, as well as debate. His inability to hold still in grade school translated into a love of doodling that continues to this day. Additionally, he is also a passionate reader and loves to examine film and art.   

CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS

Joseph believes that creating student success is an endeavor not necessarily exclusive to the work a student produces. He feels that an inclusive model of academics, physical outlets, mental exercises separate from schoolwork and relationships built through interacting with peers, teachers, parents and the community build a healthy member of society.

 

Susan Keller, B.A.

Susan Keller, B.A.

Learning Strategies Teacher

“My goal is for each student to find success by addressing his individual challenges and discovering his personal strengths.  I help them understand the importance of augmenting executive functioning and developing lifelong organizational and study skills that will serve him now and in the future.”

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CREDENTIALS

  • Bachelors of Arts in Sociology, Valdosta State University
  • Utah Certified Teacher-Professional License
  • Licensed in K-12+ Special Education with Endorsements in Mild/Moderate Disabilities

PROFESSIONAL

Susan has been with Gateway since 2013.  She worked in the Social Services for 20 years, but when given the opportunity to teach, she knew she had found her passion.  She has over 10 years of experience in education as a tutor, paraprofessional, and a substitute teacher and in 2016 was accepted into the State of Utah Alternative Route to Licensure for Special Education.

 

PHILOSOPHY

Susan believes it is important to instill a love of learning in every young man.  By developing a relationship with her students, she helps build the trust they need to face academic challenges and develop self-confidence.  Susan wants every student to leave her classroom with an expanded range of knowledge and critical thinking skills that will serve them the rest of their lives.  Her great sense of humor helps students feel comfortable, inspires lively discussions, and shows that learning can also be fun.  In the end, her goal is for her students to go out into the world more equipped to take on the challenges they will face as adults.

 

PERSONAL

Susan is originally from Georgia, but has lived all over the United States.  She came to Utah in 2005 and fell in love with the State. She enjoys the outdoors--running, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, camping, and gardening, but also likes to read, cook and bake.  Susan says she is a music fanatic and loves to attend concerts.  She enjoys spending time with her four children.  She and her daughter share an interest in art and computer animation.   

 

CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS

“Math phobia” is so common in high school students.  Susan insists that she will never allow a student to believe they “cannot do it.”  With one particular student, she set a goal to help him build the skills and the confidence to do math by showing him that practice is the key.  It was thrilling to help him to succeed in math and to see the joy in his face when he would tackle and successfully complete a difficult math problem.  Susan always wants to instill in her students the knowledge that with the right skills and practice, they can become confident in their capabilities. 

 

 

Pam Dorlac, B.A., M.Ed.

Pam Dorlac, B.A., M.Ed.

Art Integration Teacher

As Gateway's Art teacher I have a unique and exciting opportunity to help each student achieve their academic and personal best by expanding their learning experience through art.  As with any teaching position, it is vital to first develop a relationship of trust, and respect with each student. As each student/mentor relationship is formed, the opportunity for growth blossoms. As the students discover their creativity, through the process of making fine art, their self-confidence takes off and they carry that with them into their other core content areas. It’s so exciting to watch kids realize that they can succeed by learning and applying new skills in the classroom. It’s a thrill for me to open doors that lead not only to academic success, but interpersonal and entrepreneurial as well. 

 

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Credentials

  • Master of Education, Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts, Southwest Missouri State University

Professional

Pam’s “path” to teaching began as a parent and progressed into the classroom. Raising children with very different learning styles inspired her to change careers. She wanted the opportunity to give young people the tools to acquire knowledge about themselves and how to learn, that may not have been provided for them in their previous academic experience. She taught language and fine arts in an alternative high school in St. Louis for 10 years before relocating to Salt Lake and finding Gateway.  She believes that first providing a safe atmosphere and getting to know each student individually, sets the stage to break old habits that were unsuccessful academically, and learn new ones that will empower students to not only to  succeed in school, but in all of life’s future challenges.

 

Personal

Pam loves the outdoors and hikes or snowshoes in the mountains with her dogs whenever she can. Family is a priority for her and her initial motivation for leaving the Midwest. Fine art will always remain her first love. She enjoys portraiture, sculpture and is currently collaborating on a children’s book with her sisters.

 

Creating Student Success

Watching “the light come on” cognitively for a young man that has experienced more academic road blocks than successes provides its own rewards. The general mood of the individual and inevitably the culture of the classroom can turn from bland to charged as today’s students re-discover their creativity.  My favorite student-teacher dynamic is with the young person who walks into the room declaring that they “hate art” or they “can’t do it.”  As trust develops, and the student begins to apply techniques learned, they often sit back and look at their work – and suddenly the light comes on because they realize that they can!