Mountain Valley educators inspire our students by modeling the attitudes appropriate for learning and treating others with respect. They have the range of experience and expertise to meet the individual needs and challenges of our students with skill, compassion, and understanding.

Ruth Zilch
Sacramento & Nevada City, Site School Principal

Ruth attended California State University in Sacramento where she majored in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Science. She also received an Education Specialist credential for Mild to Moderate disabilities from Brandman University.

Ruth began her teaching career as a substitute teacher at Pleasant Ridge School District before transitioning full-time to Mountain Valley Academy. Here, Ruth likes to integrate science concepts with outdoor activities. Her students are always the first ones to make name signs in the woodshop and start beans and tomatoes in the garden.

Ruth’s commitment to students at Mountain Valley evolved into the administrative role she holds today as Director of Schools. Her strategy is to apply what she has learned to help mentor MV teachers. Her core belief is that an effective school is the result of a strong administrative staff.

Sharon Loucks
School Administrator  

Sharon holds a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration from the University of the Pacific, a Master’s Degree in Reading/Language Arts from Fresno Pacific University, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Los Angeles.

Sharon started as a high school English teacher but has held many additional roles at county offices of Education and School Districts. Currently, she assists Mountain Valley School primarily with the implementation of a standards-based curriculum and professional development. She facilitates the School Accreditation (ACSWASC) process, coordinates professional development, and guides curriculum development.

Sharon loves to get students to read. She promoted the Read Across Mountain Valley for guest storytellers, the use of novels to supplement History-Social Science courses and she helped start the Ranch Library.

Rick Beberg
Special Education Teacher, Sierra Classroom 

Rick has degrees from California State University at Sonoma and California State University at Chico and an Educational Specialist Credential for Mild to Moderate Disabilities from National University. He has joined in two successful Initial ACSWASC Reviews.

Rick Beberg knows residential services from a variety of perspectives. He has worked for Mountain Valley as a Mental Health Worker, House Supervisor, Residential Supervisor, and Special Education Teacher in Sacramento and at the Ranch Campus.

Rick is an accomplished athlete. In 1976, after touring the United States, he was named the Foos-ball World Mixed Doubles Champion and Player of the Year. He has also been a Professional Snow Ski and Ski Patrol Instructor. Currently, he teaches Pickle Ball locally.

Rick’s students are always active in sports and engaged in academics. Class discussions often explore a variety of perspectives on current issues in history and science. In the last three years, he has helped six students receive high school diplomas and two students to pass the HiSet/GED examinations.

Kathryn Miller
Special Education Teacher

Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a minor in Spanish Literature and a minor in American Studies and a Master’s Degree in Education. In addition, she has an Education Specialist Credential from National University and a Multiple Subject Teaching and Waldorf Credential from Antioch New England University.

Before coming to Mountain Valley Academy, Kathryn worked as a special education teacher in non-public schools, home school programs, and public schools, including the Williams Academy, Vision in Education, and Sacramento Unified School District.

Kathryn loves to intrigue future scientists. To learn about energy, her class designed solar ovens to bake cookies. Kathryn probes students with questions such as, What would happen if we move the ovens from the classroom to outside? Class experiments culminated with the First Annual Science Fair in Sacramento.  She is also known to broaden students’ awareness of world languages by translating common English expressions into Spanish, German, and French.

Jesse Kinseth
Special Education Teacher

Jesse earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico where he majored in Music Industry. He continued his studies by earning an Education Specialist teaching credential from National University with a specialization in students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Jesse taught in various educational settings in Nevada County for several years before discovering his passion for working with individuals with unique educational needs. He has over 10 years of experience teaching students at Mountain Valley Academy and excels at bringing out the best in each individual. 

Jesse believes the picturesque setting on which MVCFS is located allows for a holistic and custom-tailored learning experience, while still adhering to California State Board of Education content standards. He strives to develop a life-long passion for learning through both group discussion and individual instruction.

Tamara Flora
Special Education Teacher, Gerber Classroom

Tamara Flora has enjoyed two years of classroom experience working with special education students. She is new to Mountain Valley and started her work in the classroom in the fall of 2018. Ms. Flora is currently pursuing her Education Specialist Mild/Moderate credential and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. She has served as a research assistant in multiple laboratories at UC Davis including Developmental Psychology, School of Education, and Affective Neuroscience.

Ms. Flora brings her extensive knowledge of the brain to MV students through informational presentations and discussions that help students to understand the neuroscience behind the brain and behavior. She believes that every student has the potential to thrive and succeed. Her goal as a Teacher’s Assistant in the classroom is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment that instills hope, fosters curiosity, and supports a growth mindset. Ms. Flora states that she witnesses her students flourishing every day and is grateful to be a part of the MVCFS team! She resides in Davis and enjoys rock climbing, playing the piano, and traveling with friends.

Ashley Webster
Special Education Teacher

Ashley has a genuine passion for working with children, especially those facing challenges in school. During her college years, she worked as both a teaching assistant and an early childhood educator in a child development center. Ashley received a B.S. degree and majored in Psychology. Ashley states that she is looking forward to the many growth opportunities as an educator at MVCFS and hopes to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.