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Rick Wray, Director of Education

0Rick Wray was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. His university education took him to Seattle and the University of Washington. Back in Utah in 1996, Rick brought an educational vision to fruition when he co-founded Higher Ground Learning (HGL), a creative tutoring and mentoring center focused on creating customized learning models based on students individual learning needs. While at Higher Ground, Rick realized the dynamic nature of digital storytelling and its enormous untapped potential after designing and teaching numerous media arts workshops. In 1999, Rick passed on the reins of HGL and founded Utah’s only not-for-profit youth media center, Spy Hop Productions. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Service to the Arts Award and in 2010 was a Utah finalist for the Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2010 after serving over 10,000 Utah youth with innovative audio, video and interactive programming as Spy Hop Productions’ Executive Director, Rick Wray stepped down to launch a full time teacher-training organization focused on integrating filmmaking and digital storytelling into classroom instruction. In September that year, Rick founded SHIFT and was the Executive Director through to 2015. In June of 2015, SHIFT joined the Utah Film Center and Rick is currently the Director of Education.

Suzi Montgomery, Director of Education


Suzi Montgomery is the Director of Education at the Utah Film Center where she leads a team of educators dedicated to tapping into the dynamic nature of film as an instructional resource. Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Alberta, she moved south to Salt Lake City to work in the Archaeology Department at the Utah Division of State History. Her job included writing for a science magazine, and teaching teachers and students about science and preservation. It was there that she also delved into the documentary arts, as an oral historian, which evolved into a career in radio, first as a freelance journalist and classroom radio documentary instructor, and later as Senior Producer of Science Questions (SQ) Radio- a science radio show that aired weekly on a local independent station (KRCL) and NPR affiliate station, UPR.

At heart, Suzi is an educator with two decades of experience, having taught in junior high, high school and college classrooms across the world, having served seven years as the Executive Director of Higher Ground Learning, a creative tutoring and mentoring center focused on customized learning models, and having worked three years as the SHIFT Program Director where she began training teachers to use filmmaking in the classroom. Grateful to teachers with minds wide open to engaging in new educational strategies, Suzi is dedicated to empowering teachers and enlivening classrooms using story, technology and her vast experience weaving the digital media arts meaningfully into educational settings.

More about Suzi…


Danny Schmidt, Film Instructor

Danny Schmidt makes films and pictures for a living and he is really happy about that.  He has degrees in film and science, but most of his know-how comes from his many experiences producing imagery in far-flung places around the globe.  He has worked extensively for National Geographic, PBS, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and lots of other TV and non-profit entities over the years.  He currently is a freelance documentarian and a lead film instructor at the Utah Film Center, bringing his storytelling and filmmaking skills to students and teachers in Utah classrooms.



Emily Mallory, Program Manager

Emily HeadshotEmily is originally from Memphis, TN. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she earned a B.A. in International Affairs and Anthropology and then later earned a M.A. in Social Studies and Global Education at Ohio State University.  Emily’s adventurous spirit has led to travel and teaching experiences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. As a member of AmeriCorps, she taught at Heifer International’s ranch in Arkansas, and in North Carolina, she facilitated outdoor education programs.  In Costa Rica and Fiji she led community service and cultural immersion programs for U.S. students and in Southern Africa and Central America she taught at a traveling high school.  Her experience also includes teaching in traditional classrooms in schools in Memphis, TN, Columbus, OH, and Alexandria, VA. In the classroom, Emily uses various technologies to teach content and empower students to take ownership of their learning and loves the challenge of figuring out new ways to engage students. Emily is committed to innovative education and creative teaching methods that improve student achievement.  She joined SHIFT, originally an independent non-profit and since June 2015 a program of the Utah Film Center, in 2009, and is thrilled to be part of a forward-thinking instructional team dedicated to inspiring teachers and administrators.