Meet Our Experienced Team

Our talented Ph.D. and Master’s-level learning therapists work with our students by using research-supported approaches to provide world-class treatment for the individuals that we serve. Our experienced team brings the needed learning tools to the young men and families with whom we work. We develop the educational scaffolding essential to produce thoughtful, prepared, and confident young men.

Andy Sapp, PhD

Founder, President, Owner

Bio

Dr. Andrew Sapp is the Founder & CEO of both Novitas Academy and Cherry Gulch. He has extensive experience working with children and adolescents in the fields of mental health and psychology. Dr. Sapp earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University and also graduated with honors from Oregon State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

In the early stages of his career, Dr. Sapp was a Field Supervisor and Therapist at a therapeutic wilderness program, the lead therapist on the adolescent unit of a locked inpatient psychiatric hospital, a therapist at a group home for foster boys where he did family preservation work. He also worked as a therapist at two community mental health clinics, a community college, an elementary school, and a youth correctional facility. Andrew is a veteran and honorably served as a Naval Lieutenant stationed at a Naval Medical Center where he worked as a therapist.

Dr. Sapp has served on the Government Relations Committee for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and a committee that wrote best practice guidelines for small therapeutic programs, much of which was later incorporated into NATSAP’s best practice guidelines for members. He has also been honored to present at a number of national and regional conferences.

Dr. Sapp has worked with patients ranging from 4 to 80 years of age and truly understands psychology and human development. He believes that therapeutic intervention can prevent a child from throwing away their future. He truly believes that to reach adolescents, one’s therapeutic interventions must be supportive, creative, and engaging. He is an expert in working with adolescent boys and at using the natural environment and everyday activities to create positive change in a child’s life. He is a firm believer in the power of outdoor experiential activities, adventures, and animals to aid in the healing process. He also believes that to effect lasting change in an adolescent a holistic (mind, body, and spirit) approach is necessary.

Cherry Gulch is arguably the best therapeutic boarding school in the world for the population of middle school boys they specialize in. Dr. Sapp and his team started the school from nothing but dirt and sage brush and Cherry Gulch is now the largest private employer in the County. Cherry Gulch has been honored by the Idaho Psychological Association as the “Overall most psychologically healthy workplace” in the State and by the Idaho Business Review as “One of the best places to work” in the State. Cherry Gulch has also been selected numerous times for National recognition for “Excellence in Education”. In 2011, the Idaho Business Review selected Dr. Sapp as one of the top 40 “Accomplished Under 40” professionals in the State.

Dr. Sapp is deeply passionate about helping boys who struggle academically because learning differences run in his family and he too has undiagnosed learning disabilities that he has spent much of his life trying to overcome. Andrew believes that these challenges have helped him become more determined to reach his goals. By far his greatest accomplishment has been starting two successful programs and serving the many students and families that have benefited from this award winning and life changing programs. His greatest joy is spending time with his three precious little girls and his wonderful wife.

Bernie Zimmerman, MA, LCPC

COO, Owner

Bio

Bernie Zimmerman is a licensed clinician with an M.A. from Boise State University. He is the Chief Operations Officer for Cherry Gulch and Novitas Academy. He has been with our schools since 2008 and has served as a therapist, Clinical Director, Academic Director and Executive Director.

Previously, he worked as a Professional Member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) with Dr. Janet Greenwood in Tampa, FL and helped develop the Greenwood Associates Classification System (GACS). Prior to this, he was the Clinical Director, and senior management team member, at a prominent residential treatment care facility.

Bernie is registered with the State of Idaho as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and as a Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapy Supervisor. Bernie has taught multi-cultural awareness workshops for college athletes and has a passion for diversity and tolerance education. He has presented at several national conferences on topics including Helping Special Needs Families Evaluate Out-of-Home Placement Options, Creating Psychologically Healthy Workplaces, and teaching programs how to apply best practices to their schools and programs.

In addition to his program duties, he has developed Tools for the Trail, 501(c)(3) (www.toolsforthetrail.org) to pay forward the tools taught at our award-winning schools. This organization, paired with Cherry Gulch and Novitas Academy, has begun collecting like-minded professionals to share community-strengthening tools with their home communities.

Bernie has been married to his high school sweetheart, Krista, for 27 years. Together they have three young adult sons. Two attending college and the oldest working at Cherry Gulch.

Katie Rienstra, LCSW

Executive Director

Bio

Katie is a licensed clinician with a M.A. from Boise State University. She is the Executive Director of Cherry Gulch. She has been with CG since 2015 and has served as a therapist and Clinical Director. Previously she has worked with children, adolescents and their families in multiple settings including hospitals, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics and schools. She is a registered supervisor with the state of Idaho and enjoys providing supervision for master’s level clinicians seeking clinical licensure as well as interns working on their LSW or LMSW degrees. Her therapeutic focus is in Trauma Informed Care, Social Thinking, and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

Katie is an Idaho native but lived in Minnesota for 4 years to complete her undergraduate studies and participate in collegiate softball. In 2008 she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Health Care from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Boise State University in 2009, during which time she completed an internship with Cherry Gulch. In Katie’s time away from work she enjoys activities with her husband and family in the outdoors. She actively enjoys hiking, softball, fishing and hunting.

Krista Zimmerman, LPN

Director of Admissions and Marketing/Nursing Supervisor

Bio

Krista comes to Cherry Gulch following 18 years in healthcare. She has worked primarily as a nurse in the largest trauma hospital in Idaho on the Neurological and Rehabilitation floors with a specialty in brain and spinal cord injuries. She also spent some time as a physician recruiter and in an assistive living center for seniors. Krista’s priority in life has been raising her three very active sons. She is passionate about boys, their physical and emotional development, and their growth as young men. Krista will be assisting in Marketing and Admissions at Cherry Gulch.

Chris H. McRoberts, PhD

Program Leadership

Bio

Dr. Chris McRoberts is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has spent the last ten years working with therapeutic boarding schools and boarding schools as both a therapist and clinical consultant. Dr. McRoberts received his Bachelors degrees in psychology and sociology and his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University.

His doctoral program focused on the assessment and treatment of mental disorders and cognitive functioning in both children and adults. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. McRoberts served an internship and residency at a large community mental health center. Dr. McRoberts initially worked evaluating children and adolescents in the custody of the state and children with acute and chronic mental illnesses. He then became the Children’s Team Leader for a countywide community mental health center in rural Utah where he supervised a multidisciplinary treatment team.

He has worked in a variety of other settings over the years including the Utah State Prison, the Utah State Hospital, private practice clinics, acute hospital wards, schools for the developmentally disabled and public and private schools.

In 1998, Dr. McRoberts founded Psychological Testing Services Inc., a group of associated psychologists specializing in educational, neuropsychological and psychological evaluation of children, adolescents and adults. Dr. McRoberts has become a recognized expert and supervisor in the field of adolescent testing and evaluation and consults regularly with many therapeutic programs regarding program development and ways to effectively work with the children in their care. Many programs have come to rely on Dr. McRoberts for his objective, insightful and thorough understanding of even the most difficult children. He has a natural ability with adolescents and builds a sense of safety in children that leads them to be self- revealing. His expertise will be invaluable in establishing positive treatment plans for our students at Cherry Gulch.

Dr. McRoberts is a member of the American Psychological Association. He has long had a love of research and has presented at many conferences and published several articles regarding the effectiveness of psychotherapy. However, he is most fond of working with children personally and of his own four children at home.

Katie Pond, LMSW

Licensed Therapist, Director of Operations

Bio

Katie is an Idaho native that grew up playing in the desert and mountains when her nose wasn’t in a book. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Environmental Studies from The College of Idaho, and eventually went on to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boise State University. Katie has a passion for working with youth and families. Though she has worked in several social work settings (including crisis shelters, medical centers and the schools) the bulk of her experience is in wilderness and adventure therapy. Katie spent many years backpacking and paddling with young boys and teenagers in the Idaho desert and the southeast Alaskan rainforest. Here she practiced the art of using a therapeutic milieu to build positive group culture, facilitate experiential learning, and individualize holistic and empowering treatment plans. Katie is very excited about continuing this work in the Cherry Gulch community. She practices from a trauma-informed, strengths-based and person-centered perspective. When Katie is not working, she can be found chasing her chickens around her large garden, hiking, reading, rafting or scheming the next adventure with her husband.

Sydel Morris-Greco, MsEd

Academic Director

Bio

PROFESSIONAL

Sydel joined the CG team in 2018. She has worked in education since 2000 and her prior experience includes teaching, Special Education Coordinator, Education Director, Special Education Compliance/Mentor Teacher. Sydel also started the academic program as the Principal of a non-profit day school/treatment center for students in foster care. Sydel’s strong background in program development and special education helps her guide Cherry Gulch’s curriculum to meet the unique academic needs of each student.

PERSONAL

A native of Northern New Jersey, Sydel loves watching the N.Y. Giants lose, Sabrett hot dogs and really good bagels. With nearly enough dogs to create her own sled team, she can be found cuddling any of her five fur-babies. Several of them have been certified therapy dogs with Intermountain Therapy Animals. She has trained them herself and enjoys seeing them interact and help students through their therapeutic process. Sydel also enjoys cooking and rafting with her other half, Joel.

Juanita Bair, LCSW

Clinical Director

Bio

Juanita Bair, LCSW has a long-standing passion for working with troubled youth. She has had several experiences in the field for over 10 years, including working with alternative high school students, youth transitioning out of foster care, and teens at a therapeutic residential youth ranch. Juanita received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boise State University and has her Clinical licensure. She is also a clinical supervisor and helps manage clinical interns. Juanita has been with Cherry Gulch as a clinician since 2011 and enjoys orienting new staff to the program.

Juanita has invested her additional time at Cherry Gulch in developing the Leadership group to help grow our students’ leadership potential and opportunities to support one another. She is also invested in developing the Community Resiliency Model (CRM) from the Trauma Resource Institute at Cherry Gulch as a certified trainer. Juanita enjoys doing community education to share and collaborate with the local community organizations and schools to develop resiliency in the surrounding community.

Juanita is an avid outdoors-woman as she often enjoys mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. She spent three years as a white-water river guide on the Salmon River in her youth. She spends most of her down time doing CrossFit to be able to keep up with the boys at Cherry Gulch. Her favorite activities at Cherry Gulch include hiking, playing basketball, and arm wrestling with the boys. Juanita most enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and children while camping and playing in Idaho’s rivers and lakes.

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