Derek grew up exploring the outdoors of Arizona, both the deserts and the mountains, with his father who was a research physicist with the U.S. Forest Service. Derek credits his father with instilling in him an appreciation and love for the natural world and space. Derek lived for two years in the South American country of Paraguay, where he not only became fairly fluent in Spanish, but he also gained a love for teaching. Derek earned a Bachelor's degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University and began teaching labs at Salt Lake Community College. For five years he taught various science courses to both middle school and high school students at a youth corrections facility in Utah.
In 2003, he made his way back to Arizona and worked at the Phoenix Zoo as a Lead Park Ranger, where among other duties he was responsible for coordinating the park rangers' role in the education of the zoo's guests with regard to the animal collection. It was there that he met his wife Kim, who was the Grounds Quality Supervisor. They moved to Kaua'i in 2013, and the following year they began teaching together at CMASAS.
As they both have taught at traditional schools previously, they have learned to very much appreciate the CMASAS philosophy of personalized learning, and they love the one-on-one teaching opportunities provided here. Derek is passionate about helping students not only learn the subjects they study but also learn to love the idea of learning.
Kim and Derek have six adult children and four grandchildren.