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Meet our ALE Team

Susie Richards

Principal Susie Richards, our  ALE and SWES ITK-5 Principal is a long time South Whidbey resident who (along with her husband Chris) went through the South Whidbey Schools, as did their two children Daniel (32) and Hope (30.) 

Susie began as a para educator in the SWSD in the early 1990s, then returned to school to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Human Services and her Master's Degree and teaching certification with a focus on community based learning and community partnerships. She taught at Langley Middle School, supporting coordination of the service-learning and adventure education programs.  She co-founded the marine education non profit Service, Education & Adventure (SEA), providing boat based marine education to students throughout the Puget Sound Region. She worked as faculty for Western Governors University, supporting teacher education for 10 years. She completed her administration credential in 2017 and is thrilled to return to the South Whidbey School District in her role as principal.


Nicole McNeil

Nicole McNeil (ALE Secretary)

Nicole is the ALE Secretary.  She supports our teachers, students, families and the ALE goals and mission.

Nicole and her family moved to Whidbey in 2020.  Her husband grew up on the island and knew it'd be the perfect place to raise their kids (who are in 1st & 2nd grade).  

Nicole has been in the education world since 2003 when she received her teaching degree from Eastern Washington University.  Her passion is supporting each individual's journey of lifelong learning.  She has traditionally taught a variety of different grades and subjects and prior to her move, worked in 100's of schools throughout Portland, OR supporting Public Health and Wellness.  

When not at school, she enjoys spending time with family at Deer Lake paddle boarding, dancing with her dog Davie, testing out new recipes, and karaoking.     

Nicole is proud to be a part of such an amazing program and community! Email Nicole at


Caris Tucker

Caris Tucker (Grades 1-2, 6-8)

Caris's career as an educator has taken on many forms. She now joins us on Whidbey Island in the ALE program.

Caris's undergraduate from Pacific Lutheran University led her to pursue environmental research in Ecuador, Peru, and Bhutan. Following her studies, Caris left her home state of Washington to work in horticultural research for NC State University. In addition to this work, Caris supported farmer education programs in the southeast through various non-profit organizations.

Caris returned to Washington state to complete her Master's in Teaching, which led her to work in several districts before settling on Whidbey Island. Caris has a passion for content rich learning opportunities that are interdisciplinary in their scope. She advocates for students to have a knowledge of how to benefit their local community as well as have a strong sense of their role as global citizens through student-led learning opportunities.  

Caris Tucker - teacher

Portrait of Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell (Grades 3-5, 6-8)

Andrea wore many hats before getting her Masters in Teaching and embarking on her journey as an educator in the United States. 

Andrea has worked as a site manager for disaster relief in Louisiana, taught English in South Korea, led community organizing in both Seattle and Spokane for a non-profit that works towards social, racial, and economic justice, and made a living in construction of residential homes.

Andrea has a passion for building relationships with students and families and building community. She believes in breaking down the barrier between school and "the real world" and strives to create experiences for students that allow them to make a positive difference in their communities and the broader world.

Andi  Kopit

Andi Kopit (she/her) Grades 1-8

Andi is a biologist and outdoor environmental educator on Whidbey Island with a focus in Field STEM. She is an instructor for South Whidbey School District’s ALE program and works with South Whidbey Elementary School and community partners to provide field experiences to South Whidbey’s youth. She is a member of the Island County Marine Resources Committee, an advisory body to county government with the goal to protect and restore marine resources in the Puget Sound area through scientific monitoring, restoration projects, and community education.
Andi is passionate about all things invertebrate, both aquatic and terrestrial and enjoys sharing her passion with the next generation through scientific outreach and education. She believes in instilling hope and stewardship in the next generation by getting students outdoors, connecting with their environment, and participating in community science.

Amanda Pitts

Amanda Pitts

SW ALE Volunteer Coordinator and Environmental Education Assistant 

Amanda’s career began in early childhood development, teaching preschool and working with deaf and hard-of-hearing students. As her family grew, raising and homeschooling her four children became her full-time focus. This led to other educational opportunities as Amanda began organizing and leading outdoor co-op learning experiences on the beaches and trails of Whidbey Island. Amanda loves teaching and helping students appreciate the beautiful natural environment we live in. She has keen attention to detail, having owned and operated a home organization and maintenance business. Amanda is currently taking courses to further her career in education. Amanda’s depth of experience is utilized in the ALE program through her role as Volunteer Coordinator and Environmental Education Assistant. 

Amanda Pitts - ALE Volunteer Coordinator