Riley Gardner - World Class Academy

Riley Gardner


Program: Mountain Bike
Title: Head of School
Courses Taught: Economics, Government, History, Literature of the Americas, The College Experience, World History, and World Literature


B.A. in History – Gonzaga University

Riley is originally from Redlands, California but calls Alpine, Wyoming home these days. In Southern California, he grew up skateboarding, riding BMX, snowboarding, surfing, and playing “classic” team sports. Riley then moved to Washington to attend undergrad at Gonzaga University where he studied history. It was here that Riley learned to take his passion for athletics deeper into the mountains and in colder weather. Shortly after graduating from Gonzaga, Riley moved to Jackson, Wyoming, and discovered his two new favorite passions- whitewater kayaking and mountain biking. He also began to work as a substitute teacher in Teton County School District where he realized his calling in teaching.

This year is Riley’s sixth year working for World Class Academy. He started working for the Kayak Academy in 2017 and in early 2020, he helped WCA launch our Mountain Bike Pilot Program in Peru. Riley is ecstatic to see the MTB program up and running after what seemed like only a dream for so long.

As a teacher, Riley’s favorite aspect of the school is teaching the local history of where the school is traveling at the time. He also loves seeing how much students’ passion for education grows when school is made more fun. As the PD, he loves organizing service-learning projects and exposing the students to new cultures.

As a mountain biker, Riley likes to utilize his background in BMX- hitting big jumps and flowy downhill trails. As he has become a more avid mountain bike enthusiast, he also enjoys racing enduro and downhill. Riley also appreciates the art of building trails and is working hard to increase bike access in Alpine, Wyoming.

Riley first conceived the idea of World Class Mountain Bike Academy back in 2016 while on a trip to Whistler. While riding the Whistler Bike Park, he ran into three friends working for World Class Kayak Academy- who also happened to be in Whistler at the time. Working for World Class was already on his radar, but seeing the school in action pushed him to pursue working for the school and that the academy should also start an MTB program. Riley was employed at WCA less than a year later and he immediately started to pester Capo about adding MTB to the growing list of programs. After a few years of work with the kayak school, he was flying to Peru with his bike to direct the MTB pilot program. The rise of the global pandemic ended that program unfortunately early, but the school is excited to have MTB back in full swing for the 2021-2022 school year.

When not at World Class Academy, Riley can be found surfing river waves or wrenching on bikes at Hoff’s Bikesmith.

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