Karen Kendall, Director
Karen Kendall has been a special education teacher for 26 years and continues to be engaged, excited and enthusiastic about education. Karen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education and a Masters of Arts degree in Guidance and Counseling. Originally from Michigan, Karen taught a variety of age levels, beginning with elementary education in a self contained setting working with students with emotional impairments. From there she moved into the middle school and then high school. During that time, Karen co-founded a youth mentoring program called Common Ground where highly successful upper class students mentored at risk freshmen students. Karen also helped to design, implement and facilitate BEHL (Building Educated Healthy Lives) camps for students in the Common Ground program. These programs carried on for many years. Karen was honored with the Teacher of the Year for the state of Michigan for her work with emotionally impaired students.
In 2002, Karen and her husband moved to Salt Lake City when her husband accepted a position at the University of Utah, and she accepted a position teaching high school special education and has continued to do so. AISU will be the third school that Karen has opened from the ground up as special education director.
As a special education teacher, Karen believes in inspiring her students to be the best that they can be, to find their strengths and to build on those. She teaches students that they are capable of far more than they may think they are. Karen has designed her own curriculum to meet the demands of the state core standards while making it accessible to all of her students; even so far as taking a 12th grade AP course novel and making it one of her students favorites. She teaches her students that they can do hard things with positive support and high expectations.
In addition to her love of teaching, Karen loves mountain biking and is a coach for one of Utah’s Youth Cycling high school mountain bike teams. In Michigan, she was the director of the state mountain biking association’s Mountain Kids program providing a positive outdoor experience, on bikes, for kids that may not have access to riding and being in the woods. She is an outdoor enthusiast enjoying camping, skiing, hiking and backpacking and has completed numerous marathons and half marathons, and is an art enthusiast enjoying oil painting and photography.
Mrs. Pestana graduated from Western Governor’s University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education earning dual licensure in both Elementary Education and Special Education. She received the Praxis Recognition of Excellence for exceptional performance in elementary core content knowledge. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Mrs. Pestana has worked with students of all ages and abilities.
Marion Munn is a native of England. Her career in education began in the UK, where she received her teaching license (with Distinction in the Practice of Education) from Bristol University. Since coming to the US about twenty years ago, she has added a BA and MS in Communications (Rhetoric and Composition) from the University of Utah. While at the University of Utah, she taught undergraduate writing classes, tutored in the university writing center, and edited graduate and faculty writing. Marion’s commitment to education has continued through a broad range of experiences that include running a home-school cooperative; working within a non-profit as an educational advisor for under-educated children, teens, and adults; and teaching in special education. She is passionate about helping students with challenges find their strengths and gain the confidence to succeed.