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

Owner

Bio

Bernie Zimmerman is a licensed clinician with an M.A. from Boise State University. He has been with our schools since 2008 and has served as a therapist, Clinical Director, Academic Director and Executive Director and former COO.

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.

He has recently transitioned to a developing 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.

Ryan Hale, LCSW

Therapist

Bio

Ryan received his Master’s of Social Work from Boise State University, with a focus on Child Welfare and Adoption Services. Ryan is a Licensed Therapist and has worked at a number of mental health facilities including a boy’s home where he worked for seven years as a rehabilitation therapy technician, case manager, cognitive self-change facilitator and victim empathy awareness instructor. He has also worked at two community clinics where he was an individual and family counselor, family mediator, psycho-social rehabilitation worker, a children’s day treatment coordinator and he completed an internship in adoption and clinical service, along with Health and Welfare and Family Services. He continues to share his love for the helping profession by teaching an online course for a University out of Texas.

Ryan is certified in Attachment-Focused Therapy and leads Cherry Gulch’s Adoption group. He is a certified trainer for the RULER program and has worked to make Cherry Gulch a RULER certified school after receiving extensive training from Yale University. Ryan is also a clinical supervisor, supervising social workers working toward their clinical licensure.

Ryan grew up locally on a ranch only 13 miles from Cherry Gulch. He spent his childhood working alongside his father on tractors, horses, and playing in the creek. He has lived in Idaho for the majority of his life, along with a two-year church mission where he worked with Laotian refugees in Texas. His interests and hobbies include fishing, mechanics, and spending time with his family. He loves the Emmett community and is an avid supporter of the local High School athletic teams.

Tara Landis, LMSW

Therapist

Bio

Tara earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University. She has a passion for working with families and adolescents during their times in crisis. Tara has 20+ years of Social Work experience, including many demographics leading to a well-rounded knowledge of therapeutic tools to assist families. Tara has worked with cancer patients and their families, clients with development/intellectual disabilities and their families, at-risk and homeless youth, and severe community mental health with adolescents. Tara has been a speaker at Autism conferences and has both professional and personal experience working with the Autism Spectrum Disorder community. Tara has an extensive history working with clients who have experienced trauma. She is also an adjunct professor educating master level Social Workers about Clinical Therapy with Families.

Tara is certified in Attachment-Focused Therapy, Complicated Grief, Trauma, and PTSD, Therapeutic Art Interventions, Adventure-Based Counseling, and Gottman Therapy Level 1. Tara continues to increase her knowledge and education in therapeutic interventions.

Tara has four children with her husband and lives in Meridian, Idaho. She has a teenage son with Autism Spectrum Disorder and an adult daughter who has beat cancer twice. She loves to paint and create art. Tara takes any opportunity to hike in the mountains and photograph the beautiful views.

Kylie Langer, LMSW

Therapist

Bio

Kylie received her master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health and Addictions from Northwest Nazarene University and her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her passion for the outdoors, adventure and working with people led her to her career working with troubled youth over thirteen years ago. Kylie’s passion for working with troubled adolescents led her to many careers in adolescent mental and behavioral health before finding employment at Cherry Gulch including other therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, juvenile correctional facilities, psycho-social rehabilitation services and wilderness therapy. Kylie has enjoyed seven years with Cherry Gulch working as a Direct Care staff, Recreation Therapist, Character Development teacher (with her teaching certification in Psychology), Clinical Liaison and most recently as a licensed therapist.

Kylie oversees the service program at Cherry Gulch, co-directs the NATSAP research program and oversees international travel at CG. Kylie has received training in the Anasazi Foundation’s The Seven Paths as well as Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and has co-led a number of Hero’s Journey/The Seven Paths international trips with the students and their families and worked to restructure the phase work here at Cherry Gulch to align with the Hero’s Journey cycle. She is ATTACh certified, a certified Child and Youth Care worker, a Gottman Institute Level one certified therapist, has spoken at both regional and national conferences and has worked to make CG a RULER certified school after receiving extensive training from Yale University.

Kylie is an Idaho native and enjoys spending time with her family skiing, backpacking, mountain biking, camping, dirt biking and traveling.

Latisha Bowman, LCPC

Therapist

Bio

Latisha has over ten years of therapeutic experience in a variety of clinical settings including: adolescent and adult psychiatric hospitals; private practice; and, five years of service in a residential treatment center for boys aged 9-17 presenting with severe emotional disturbance (attachment disorders, PTSD, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders) and social maladjustment (early onset conduct disorder and oppositional defiance). In this setting she was both the clinical director and chief administrator. In addition to this, Latisha is a certified designated examiner and is certified in clinical hypnotherapy.

Latisha found her inspiration for therapy as a wilderness instructor at a wilderness therapy camp where she assisted with therapeutic outcomes and taught wilderness survival skills to youth ranging in age from 10-18. Latisha received her Master’s degree in clinical counseling from Northwest Nazarene University. Latisha’s specialty areas are in trauma resolution, the mind-body connection and family systems work. Latisha’s therapeutic approach blends elements of attachment therapy, gestalt/experiential techniques and mindfulness/holistic health and healing.

Latisha is an Idaho native and outdoor enthusiast who spends her leisure time in Idaho’s vast wilderness with her family camping, hiking, backpacking, swimming, going to hot springs and foraging the forest floor for wild, edible plants. Latisha is also a devoted mother to her teenage daughter and enjoys vintage collectibles and her trans-personal pursuit of growth and meaning.

Trent Gray, LCPC

Therapist

Bio

Trent has experience and passion for working with youth and adults in a variety of community and residential settings. He started his career with individuals in 1999 doing job coaching, day habilitation and group residential home provider teaching functional life-skills. Trent is a graduate of Boise State and Montana State University with a Bachelors’ degree in General Health Studies with a Psychology minor, and Masters in Vocational Rehabilitation Sciences. He is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Trent is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership with Behavioral Health emphasis.

He has over 15 years of clinical experience in mental health in the in-patient therapeutic setting. He has assisted various populations with addictions, traumatic injury, and cognitive and neurological issues. He is well versed in cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychotherapy practices and strategies. He has experience working with a theoretical framework and emphasis on structural family and functional solution-based therapies. Trent enjoys helping youth learn better ways to connect and implement healthier modes of thinking in order to help them create better functioning within the family, social, and community context.

Trent is a service-driven and dedicated husband and father with five children ranging from ages 10 to 17. He is a native Idahoan who has a great respect and passion for the outdoors. Trent is an Eagle Scout and has served as a scoutmaster in Idaho for 5 years. He understands the patrol method in developing teamwork and completed a leadership training Wood Badge course at Camp Morrison in McCall Idaho in 2016. He is passionate and progressive in finding new methods for helping people identify and build upon their unique strengths and characteristics. Trent is a continual life-long learner and facilitator of cognitive-behavioral counseling techniques. He uses a servant leadership philosophy that involves encouraging and strengthen peoples’ core values through serving their community, family, and friends.

Stephanie Smith, LMSW

Therapist

Bio

Stephanie graduated from Boise State University earning her master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in clinical mental health as well as school social work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Juvenile Justice from Northwest Nazarene University. Stephanie has over 15 years of experience working with at-risk populations in a variety of settings. These include the following: school counseling in public education, group leader supervisor/case manager at a residential treatment facility for adolescent males, family preservation provider through the Department of Health and Welfare/Child Protection Services, and direct care staff at a group home for female adolescents.

Stephanie has always known that she wanted to spend her career walking along side and advocating for at-risk and/or underprivileged populations. It is her upmost desire to provide compassion, support, and education to clients, families, schools, and communities.

Stephanie is ATTACh certified and is a certified AutPlay provider. She has extensive training in play and sandtray therapy, crisis prevention and intervention, as well as suicide prevention and intervention. She is skilled in cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and plans to pursue further training in somatic experiencing, attachment, and trauma-resiliency based modalities.

Stephanie’s highest calling is as a wife and mother. She and her family love spending time hiking, kayaking, camping, and cooking. Music also plays a big role in her life and she loves going to concerts and music festivals. She is very active in her community and enjoys coaching youth softball as well as cheering on her own children. Having been raised on a small ranch in Emmett, Idaho, Stephanie learned from a young age to be self-motivated and hard working. She enjoys opportunities for leadership and development. She sees herself as a life-long learner and strives to have a growth mindset in all she does.

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