Faculty and Staff

Charlotte Abelson
-- English Teacher

Jacquie Aegerter
--Administrative Assistant

Joe Backstrom
-- Mathematics Teacher

Joe Backstrom, formerly a resident of Green River, Wyoming, moved to Laramie after discovering his passion for teaching. Backstrom has dual bachelor’s degrees in Math and Physics and a minor in psychology that he puts to use teaching math. Backstrom did not know exactly what he wanted to do until he substitute-taught math and realized that teaching students was what he had to do with his life. Backstrom student-taught at Rawlins High School and then moved on to teach at Rawlins Middle School.

Backstrom moved to Laramie with his wife, Carissa Armitage-Backstrom, who is a law student, and they enjoy spending time outdoors. From hiking to boating and everything in between, Backstrom loves the outdoors as much as he loves his students. “I love Whiting High School. The kids are just amazing,” Backstrom said. Backstrom finds that working one-on-one with the students in smaller classes is ideal for education because it allows him to make sure all his students get the attention they need to succeed.

Backstrom hopes to help all his students learn math and how capable they are. He has a “hands-on” method of teaching students so that they know how the lessons apply to the “real world.” Understanding why math works is as important as understanding how math works, a lesson that is passed on by getting to know how to help each of the students in Whiting High School. “I doubt I will ever teach at a job I love this much,” Backstrom explained. “I just want to help students understand their own self-worth.”

Anna Groose
--Science Teacher

Anna Groose grew up surrounded by the importance of education. Her parents were both involved in education; her father was a professor at the University of Wyoming Agriculture Department, and her mother worked as a school-based therapist.  Groose is a native of Laramie, having moved here when she was only two years old, and she now raises her son, Milo, in her hometown. Groose enjoys the outdoors, hockey, and doing all manner of art with her son.

She attended Laramie High School before getting her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Wyoming. She went on to get a graduate certificate in education, and she continues to further her education by working toward a master’s degree. Whiting High School is her first official teaching job, and she is certified to teach Biology, Life Science, Earth Science, and Space Science. Groose knows that science is always adapting and evolving as more is learned, and she strives to continue to be as up-to-date as possible so she can teach her students all there is to learn.

Groose enjoys how Whiting High School provides an alternative learning environment for students. She understands the difficulties of a large school and likes that Whiting High School is small enough that every student can have individual attention. The school is very student-based, and the teachers have the freedom to teach what is most valuable for students to learn, and what they will find interesting. “Science is always changing, and it’s exciting to present science to a younger generation. I get to be involved in science, and I’m always learning along with the students.”

Meghan Goodner
-- Music Teacher

William Hankins
--Program Coordinator

William Hankins has done a little of everything on his way to Whiting High School. The current Administrative Assistant has owned businesses and worked in many areas. Hankins was from Nampa, a town near Boise, Idaho, where he lived for around twenty years. He attended Boise State University and then the University of Wyoming where he studied Communications and Music. Family is very important to Hankins and he enjoys spending time with his two children, Hunter and Daphne, and at school with the students.

Hankins does a bit of everything at Whiting High School and strives to make everything run smoothly while helping students have the best experience possible. Hankins believes it’s important for students to know what opportunities are available to them in the future, and that they can be successful in anything they try. “The students are my kids,” Hankins explained. He wants them to understand that they are all cared about. Whiting High School allows for individual support that wouldn’t be available in larger schools.

Jessica Huhn-Taylor
--Whiting High School Counselor

Jessica Huhn-Taylor is the counselor at Whiting High School, and she strives to know all the students individually. Jessica is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she came to Laramie to further her education. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, especially early child development. She got her masters to be a counselor and is certified to own and run her own mental health practice, and she regularly sees patents after school. She worked at Spring Creek Elementary School, and then Laramie Middle School for seven years.

Jessica has enjoyed living in Laramie, WY, and believes “it is a great place to raise my kids.” She has three children, and she enjoys spending time with them. She believes Laramie is a “gem” that is centered around community, a community she works to strengthen in Whiting High School. She strives to make sure every student feels comfortable, safe, and like they can trust they can get help if needed.

Jessica enjoys the flexibility to help students how they need most. “I love my two previous jobs but could only help at school.” At Whiting High School, she can help the students even after school. She can take students shopping, apartment hunting, or to the doctor as the need. The school is “tailored to the individual students and help them strengthen their abilities while preparing for the future.” Jessica helps set up college visits, finds information on certification programs, and helps students plan for life after high school. “I want the students to know that we are here to support them even after they graduate from high school. We’re really like a little family.”

Truman Solverud
--Special Ed/Culinary Teacher

Truman Solverud was raised in a military family, moving frequently in his younger years, living in Germany and Colorado Springs and then spent most of his school-age years in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating high school, he had a career in the restaurant business which took him to places such as Dallas, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, Orlando, and finally Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado. This is where he met his wife, Donna. Together, they owned two coffee shops and a catering company. One thing that Truman always loved about the restaurant business was working with people from different walks of life and providing employment opportunities for students with disabilities. Working with these students provided the catalyst to go to college and work in Special Education.

While attending the University of Northern Colorado, Truman worked as a paraprofessional supporting 18-21-year-olds with disabilities in their independent living and vocational goals after high school. He has a bachelor’s degree from UNC in Special Education with a teaching endorsement and is working towards his Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Kansas.

Truman and his wife, Donna, who is the choir teacher at Laramie High School, have three children: Tamsen, Courtney, and T.J., and a grandson, Dax, who they love spending time with. They are also proud puppy parents of a sassy Shiba Inu named Harley.  Truman enjoys the outdoors, and hikes, camps, and kayaks frequently in the summer. In his spare time, he turns wood from reclaimed fence posts and barn wood making beautiful, rustic creations such as vases and candleholders.

Truman’s educational goal is simple; do whatever it takes to help students grow through a kind and supportive approach. He has a high level of dedication and determination which has continued in his efforts at Whiting High School, where he “Absolutely fell in love with this school. The level to which we support the students is great, and we can build substantive, sustainable relationships with our students.” Truman understands the difficulties of high school as he once struggled himself, so he wants to help others achieve their goals.

Rebecca Slaughter
--Art Teacher

Rebecca Slaughter understands the value of art and its impact on students. She grew up in Laramie and attended the University of Wyoming to get dual bachelor’s degrees in Art and Art Education. Rebecca Slaughter worked through college at schools, and after graduating she started working at Whiting High School in 2000. She has always liked Laramie and has raised her family here. She now has six grandchildren she loves spending time with.

Rebecca also loves all things outdoors including camping, fishing, riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers. She works to teach students through her adventurous spirit and love of art. Her classrooms are full of energy as well as learning.

Rebecca believes that Whiting High School picked her. Once she started working at Whiting, she loved the school and the students. “I couldn’t let go of the school or the students.” Rebecca understands that school can be difficult because she lived through it, but she wants to make sure her classes are realistic and encouraging so that students can enjoy the learning experience.

Dot Sippel
--Special Education Instructor

Jason Still
--Social Studies Teacher

Jason Still teaches Social Studies and is more than happy to get involved in helping students however he can. Jason is from Aurora, Colorado, and he moved to Laramie to be a wrestler at the University of Wyoming while getting a degree. He always loved coaching and coached little league wrestling while in high school. He even continued to mentor students while attending college. It was mentoring these students that helped Jason realize he wanted to be a teacher. Before becoming a teacher, he had worked as a landscaper, and that love of the outdoors has never changed. He continues to enjoy the outdoors, especially fly-fishing and camping with his wife, Janelle.

After student teaching at Whiting High School, he was able to apply to work at the school in 2010. He has always loved Whiting High School and the opportunities it provides. Each student gets to have individual assistance and attention to help them. “I’ve loved this school all along because it is great for students who struggle in a traditional school setting.” If students do not like large groups or don’t get the attention they need, Whiting High School provides an alternative option.” Jason hopes that students can develop while attending Whiting High School. Jason never wants students to “feel impeded, but encouraged” to be whatever they want to be.

Willy Stuart
-- PE/Health/ Woods Teacher

Paul Weaver
-- HiSET Prep and Intensive Credit Recovery Facilitator

Scott Shoop

Scott Shoop grew up in a ranching community in central Wyoming. He attended Casper College, Arizona State University and graduated with a degree in Secondary Language Arts.  He taught high school English in Wyoming and Arizona for 13 years and then completed his master’s degree in Administration from Chadron State College.  He has been a principal in middle schools and high schools for over 20 years.  In 2010, He was named NASSP’s Wyoming Principal of the Year.  He loves exploring the Rocky Mountains, rock hunting, skiing, and fishing, and spending time with his wife and family.

“Whiting has a very caring community. We can really put individual students first and react to their needs, which can be difficult in a larger school.” Scott Shoop works every day to help students to increase their ability to lead a quality life.