Academic Staff

We are all works in progress who never stop growing.

At Chrysalis, student instruction is provided by state-certified high school teachers supported by our tutorial staff. Core classes are teacher-led, yet we also provide several online courses for students interested in unique subjects. Every student has an academic advisor who works directly with that student’s therapist and is a member of the student’s treatment team, providing comprehensive evaluation and better outcomes.

Krysten Fitzsimmons

Position: Academic Director
Krysten is the Academic Director for Chrysalis, and prior to this role she was the Special Education Coordinator and English Teacher.. Through her time at Chrysalis she has taught English 9, 10, 11, 12, Standards Based English, American Lit, British Lit, World Literature and more. Krysten grew up in Oregon and attended college in Montana. She completed her student teaching in Australia while earning a BA in English teaching. She also has a Masters of Science in Special Education. Krysten has worked in therapeutic group homes for teens as part of the direct-care staff and managed weekend programming. She has worked as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional, mainly in special education and English classrooms. Outside the classroom, Krysten enjoys participating in local community theater as well as volunteering to teach hunters, promoting safety and stewardship. For relaxation, she goes for Nordic skiing, hiking and, of course, reading.

Krysten Fitzsimmons

Academic Director

Darla Kaarre

Position: Assistant Academic Director

English Teacher and Assistant Academic Director
Darla was born and raised in northwest Montana. She’s had “Eureka moments” ever since calling Eureka home. She graduated college in Montana (with one year of her study completed in Maine) and went on to graduate school at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Darla holds BS and MA degrees in education with a specialization in reading. She has taught all levels of students, from preschool through college, and has enjoyed each and every grade. Creating cross-curricular unit studies is Darla’s all-time favorite educational pursuit. In keeping with her comprehensive approach to teaching, Darla has immersed herself in various aspects of our therapeutic boarding school since joining us in 2007 – a major Eureka moment for her. Initially, she joined our program staff, then became food services coordinator. Her formal expertise is as English teacher and assistant academic director. She loves to motivate both students and staff, and she is known for her creativity and others focused attitude on campus.

Darla Kaarre

Assistant Academic Director

Thomas Bartley

Position: Math

Thomas is originally from Kalispell, Montana, with extended family in the surrounding areas of Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula. At the age of five, he moved to Florida, and continued to come back and visit Montana throughout his childhood. He always had a passion for math and graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and began teaching high school math classes, while also pursuing his graduate degree in Secondary Education. After teaching at the high school level for 6 years, Thomas left the classroom to pursue other avenues in education, which included curriculum development, e-learning, instructional technology, and many others. Prior to Chrysalis he worked at an Instructional Technology position with Saint Leo University, where he specialized in supporting faculty in effective instructional practice with classroom technology. Over the years, he and his wife dreamed  about moving back to Montana, and are so excited to be able to enjoy all of the activities it has to offer. Thomas enjoys all types of outdoor activities, such as hiking, rafting, fishing, and camping. He also enjoys playing the guitar, working with animals, and spending time with friends and family.

Thomas Bartley

Math

Erica Gerber

Position: Science

Erica grew up on Long Island in New York State. She played Field Hockey at Syracuse University on a full athletic scholarship where she earned a degree in Science Education and met her husband. Her Masters in Environmental Communication included six months of Research in India.  Later in life she went back to school to become a licensed Veterinary Technician.

She has taught science for 25 years at both middle and high schools in New York, Connecticut, and Montana. In 1998, she was awarded teacher of the year at Greenwich Public Schools in CT.  Her favorite courses to teach are River Ecology and Animal Anatomy Physiology, and Nursing (aka Animal Science).  She and her husband live on a ranchette on the Flathead River where they have 7 fuzzy children: a dog, a cat, and five horses. When she is not teaching she rides her horses into the back country to find remote places for her husband to fly fish.  They also like to cross country ski and mountain bike.

Erica enjoys working at Chrysalis where she can form close relationships with the students and join them in their incredible life journeys.

Erica Gerber

Science

Leslie Fowler

Position: Horticulture Manager

Leslie was born in California. She went to High School in Colorado and then moved to Alaska before migrating down to beautiful Eureka, Montana where she has lived since 1980. Leslie has worked at Chrysalis for a total of 15 years. During that time she has worn many hats, but her favorite role so far is her current one. Teaching Horticulture allows many opportunities for personal growth through the experience of gardening. Leslie has a heart for our students and enjoys having the gardens as a place to connect with the students. Having raised three children of her own, Leslie brings a family like nurturing approach to interacting with the students.

Leslie Fowler

Horticulture Manager

Amanda Gray

Position: Special Education Coordinator

Amanda teaches Spanish I, II, and III and is a facilitator for students with online language classes. She grew up in South Carolina where she attended Converse College. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Education and Spanish.

After graduating, Amanda taught middle school mathematics in a South Carolina public school for nine years. She moved to Glendive, MT with her husband James and two small children in December 2016 where she worked for a short time as an Activities Coordinator for two long term care facilities.

Amanda moved to Eureka in June 2017 to join the Chrysalis family. She worked at Horse House as a youth mentor and assisted students with Credit Recovery during the summer modules In August, she transitioned to Academic Staff.

Outside the classroom, Amanda enjoys reading, cooking/baking, and spending time with her family.

Amanda Gray

Special Education Coordinator

James Gray

Position: History

James teaches U.S. History, World History, and Government. He is originally from Klamath Falls, Oregon. During his childhood, he moved all over the country with his mother as she sought various professional opportunities in the education field. When James was in third grade he moved to Wisdom, Montana where he lived there for three years. He has a passion for woodworking and computers. James received his Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Secondary Education. Prior to receiving his degrees, he was in the US Navy. James is married to Amanda Gray. They have two young boys. They have wanted to move to Montana for many years, They found the opportunity at Chrysalis the perfect reason to make one of the biggest changes in their lives.

James Gray

History

Keshara Bjorkman

Position: Art

Keshara teaches art of all kinds- from the basics of drawing and painting to mixed medium and multimedia. She has a background in photography/videography, design, and marketing. She grew up in Ventura, California, and has her Bachelor’s degree in Communication with an Emphasis in Digital Film/Media Studies from Dixie State University in Southern Utah. She is also a veteran of the Utah Army National Guard.
Keshara’s art ranges from ceramics and murals to quilting and photography, and she loves to get her hands on any project with a purpose behind it. She hopes to share her passion of the fine arts with students, while bringing to the forefront the importance of art history and the impact of art in the world today.

Keshara Bjorkman

Art

Margaret Lambie

Position: Music

Margaret teaches music courses ranging from World Music Exploration to Performance Practices. She has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Hastings College and a Master and Doctorate in Flute Performance from the University of Kansas.
In class, Margaret is passionate about engaging performance, but she also works to find any avenue students to appreciate and use music. Her goal is for students to learn to love music in any capacity so that it can serve them for the rest of their lives.

Margaret loves performing individually and in ensembles. She loves reading, baking, and is an avid knitter with two adorable angora rabbits , Jacques and Marie.

Margaret Lambie

Music