Faculty Bios


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Seedlings

Susan Skokan

Susan Skokan

Seedlings Lead Teacher

auntiesusanmpcs@gmail.com

Susan has been caring for children full time since 2007. She dove in to Waldorf methods the summer of 2011. During that school year she cared for teacher’s toddler children, as well as providing before care for grades students and private after care for ECE students. After two years successfully running her own licensed, mixed-age home preschool; she was thrilled to return to Mountain Phoenix in 2014. She was the ECE Float and ASE Assistant and is now entering a full time position as Laura's assistant.

She took her ECE courses through FRCC and is a photography major at Metro. Susan earned her LifeWays Early Childhood Certification in May of 2013 – a “Sister to Waldorf” program that focuses on birth to age 7. Since 2011 she has attended as many of the WECAN monthly continuing education classes that Nancy Blanning hosts as she is able (9 during the 2012-2013 school year) and is currently in the Foundations studies that MPCS is hosting. She has been blessed to observe classes at six other Waldorf schools in the area and is a voracious reader – hungry for more and more knowledge of child development and Waldorf pedagogy.

Susan adores getting to know all the children at MPCS. She has two adored sons who have attended Mountain Phoenix for all of their schooling (barring preschool for the oldest).She especially loves to paint, felt wool, sing, garden and lazure. She loves to practice eurythmy, yoga and swim. She is enjoyed volunteering in one of the 3rd grade handwork classes and working on becoming better friends with knitting and crochet. She is inspired by these rhythmic yet dynamic days.

Over the summer she was the afternoon Grades Lead Teacher at Denver Waldorf's Summer Camp and is coming away from that experience with new knowledge and exhilarated to dive back into early childhood.

Every day, she strives to take each moment as it comes, see the chance for meeting the children with spiritual reverence and remembering that THERE IS TIME! Over time, she finds this more and more true, especially using slow, gentle movements to give a child warm nurturing moments in their day. “It’s so fun when they want me to sing a song again and again, because I know they’ve enjoyed it.” Susan loves to watch leaves fall with them, discover snow, stare at the sky or a ladybug, tell stories, and just look into light-filled eyes.

ECE

Robin Brough

Robin Brough

Buttercup Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

robin.brough@jeffco.k12.co.us

Robin is the lead teacher in the Buttercups half day preschool class. She moved to Colorado twelve years ago and went on to go to school at Naropa University. She graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education and a focus on visual arts and traditional eastern arts. Robin worked at Snow Lion School in Boulder for many years before moving to the Denver area. She is very excited to be a part of the Mountain Phoenix community. Robin loves to travel to far away places, and enjoys spending time hiking, camping, and doing yoga in her free time.

Julie Ortiz

Julie Ortiz

Buttercup Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

Bio and photo coming soon.

Joy Wegs

Joy Wegs

Sweet Pea Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

auntiejoysclassroom@gmail.com

“Auntie Joy” is the Lead Teacher in the Sweet Peas classroom, and has been here since MPCS arrived on this campus. Auntie Joy is always elated to bring her all to her classroom and various committees throughout our campus. She proudly calls MPCS her home away from home! Aside from her teaching responsibilities, she is also a mother to two spirited boys (Aizik and Ember - both of whom attend here), a wife, and a yoga instructor. She holds a BA in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership, and a two-year degree in teaching. Joy has completed the LifeWays of North America training, focusing on Stiener’s views of child development birth through age 7 and the Waldorf Foundations program. Her history with Waldorf Education goes back quite a ways, but she knew the moment her first son was born that she needed to learn more! She used to live in Grand Junction where she partnered with other community members to start a small Waldorf Kindergarten, where she was both the President of the Board and also a Teacher (both at different times, of course)! Auntie Joy is living proof that Waldorf is an education for all, both young and old!

Jo Ann Hammond

Jo Ann Hammond

Sweet Pea Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

Jo Ann (Auntie Jo Ann) is thrilled to be embarking on her fifth year at MPCS. She has been a classroom assistant for three of those years, a substitute lead teacher for one, and now a classroom assistant again. This will be her second year in the Sweet Peas classroom. Her education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University and a Master of Arts degree in Speech and Language therapy from the University of Denver. Jo Ann provided speech and language therapy services in both public and private settings for a number of years. Her ECE courses were completed in the 1990’s. “Way back then,” Jo Ann was drawn to Waldorf curriculum and its focus on the development of the whole child. She has continued her education in Waldorf education through attendance at the monthly Kinder Studies groups led by Nancy Blanning, the annual WECAN conferences, and the annual conferences held at MPCS. This past year, Jo Ann was able to attend the Foundations Study program through the Center for Anthroposophy that was held at MPCS. She is excited to begin the second year of Foundation Studies. Jo Ann is very excited to be part of the Early Childhood Education team, as well as the fabulous community of MPCS. “Where else can I go to work dressed in a beautiful color of the day, work with other amazing teachers, and PLAY with wonderful children all day?”

Jo Ann is married and has two children. She has lived in Colorado for 53 years, but never passes up the chance to explore another spot she has missed along the way. She loves doing things with her family, as well as her furry and feathered family. She has two dogs, two cats, and seven chickens (yes, the chickens are pets!). Jo Ann also enjoys knitting, quilting, bicycling, camping, hiking, snorkeling, reading, and travel.

Sarah Jackson

Sarah Jackson

Classroom Assistant - Preschool, Sweet Peas

Sarah has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in criminology from Purdue University. This is her sixth year as Auntie Joy's assistant.

Sarah is married with two children, 13 and 10, both attending Mountain Phoenix. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, and skiing.

Jennifer Wendland-Diaz

Jennifer Wendland-Diaz

Lead Teacher - Mountain Dandelions

jennifer.wendland@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jennifer is a Nationally Board certified teacher and has a Master’s degree in Bilingual Education. She has been involved in the field of education for 11 years including teaching in a small community school in Mexico for three years that integrated festivals, nature experiences, and the arts within the curriculum. She recently completed the Art of Teaching Grade Two in Waldorf Education at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. Jennifer has a passion for developmentally-appropriate and arts-integrated education and looks forward to bringing Waldorf Education to the charter school movement.

Christine Swann

Christine Swann

Mountain Dandelions Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

Ms. Christine holds a BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland. It was there that she first learned about Waldorf Education and she immediately knew that she wanted to pursue it further. After graduating, she moved with her husband to Portland, OR and began working as a kindergarten assistant at the Portland Village School, a Waldorf-methods public charter school, during its inaugural year. Since then, Ms. Christine has been at home raising her two daughters and is now excited to get back in the classroom to share the beauty and rhythm of Waldorf education with all young children. In her free time, Ms. Christine loves to spend time with her family, hike, garden, knit, sew, swim, and go camping.

Michele Ford Kuntz

Michele Ford Kuntz

Sunflower Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

michele.kuntz@jeffco.k12.co.us

Michele Ford Kuntz (“Auntie Chele”) is the lead teacher of the full-time Sunflowers kindergarten classroom at Mountain Phoenix Community School. In 1999, Michele moved to Denver from Seattle, and after working in the corporate world for several years, realized her true calling in life to teach. After teaching various grades from Kindergarten through Third, in both public and private settings, Auntie Chele feels completely at home with the Waldorf Curriculum and the Early Childhood Program at MPCS. Michele has an undergraduate degree in Theater from the University of Washington, as well as a Master’s in Curriculum and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Denver where she graduated top of her class and received the “Outstanding Graduate” award, as chosen by her professors. Michele is very excited to bring her passion for the arts to her teaching. In addition to being a teacher, Michele has two children who attend MPCS, and a loving husband. She enjoys reading, knitting, bike riding, and travel.

Ashley Mendoza

Ashley Mendoza

Sunflower Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

ashley.mendoza@jeffco.k12.co.us

In 2010, Ashley decided to take a complete turnaround in her career from retail to child education. She wanted to do something meaningful and worth her time; therefore, Ashley went back to school and changed her major.

Ashley started as a floater working with infants to preschool in a Montessori School in East Plano, TX. She became close with the assistant director who asked Ashley to work alongside her, in her own in-home daycare with the ages infants up to 2 years. Ashley was thrilled and wanted to learn more working with someone who had the knowledge and experience. She continued to work at the in-home daycare until she moved to Colorado in June 2013. Ashley is a happy graduate of 2015 finishing her Associates in Early Childhood Education and Director’s Certificate from Red Rocks Community College. She plans to continue her education soon going for her bachelor’s in human development and family studies or in child development. With time permitting, Ashley plans to open up her own Waldorf-inspired, in-home daycare.

When not at work, Ashley spends her free time being a child’s advocate and volunteer for MACA (March Against Child Abuse), which is a non-profit organization. She is proud to be a child’s voice and take a stand for those in need. In her spare time, Ashley likes to go hiking, challenge herself in fitness workouts, watch movies, go to concerts, crochet, sight see, travel, and visit what beautiful adventures Colorado has to offer.

Ashley is always excited for a new school year and happy to the Sunflower’s classroom assistant for a second year. Ashley also feels blessed and appreciative for a new opportunity as the ECE Licensing Director. She loves working with little ones and learning from them as she watches them grow.

Liz McCune

Liz McCune

Bluebird Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

bluebirdkindergarten@gmail.com

Ms. Liz is excited to be the teacher of the Morning Glory AM Kindergarten class. In her pre-kid years she worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist, but more recently she has spent the past two years as an assistant in the Kindergarten and loved it so much that she began the teacher training program at Rudolf Steiner College this past summer. Ms. Liz was introduced to the “magic” of Waldorf education through seeking to find a fitting pre-school program for one of her own children. She and her family landed at a Waldorf-based home preschool, and life since then has never been the same. Waldorf education inspired a renewed love of childhood, magic, and learning!

Ms. Liz is also a MPCS parent – her four children all attend the school (5th, 3rd, 1st, and Pre-K). Their family has chickens, bees, and a new, much bigger than expected, puppy. Originally an Ohio Buckeye, she is married to a Colorado native. Liz lived previously in Albania, Texas, Mississippi, Scotland (her 2 boys were born there), and back in Ohio, before settling down in Denver 5 years ago. In her spare time, Liz can be found...wait, what’s spare time? Her most recent achievement: winning the Blue Ribbon at the Denver County Fair for her 9 grain bread (she mills the flour)! Lately, her (nighttime) dreams include crock pots and wool roving.

Alex Esarey

Alex Esarey

Bluebird Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

Ms. Alex is thrilled to be teaching at Mountain Phoenix! With a Bachelors in Social Work from Asbury University, Alex feels passionate about bringing holistic education to her students. She has been teaching in Early Childhood settings since 2011, including forming and leading a spirited PreK classroom in Seattle. Prior to 2010, she was walking alongside adolescents in multi-cultural and therapeutic environments, including working with Roma (gypsy) youth in Romania. Alex aspires to attend the Sunbridge Institute and gain her Waldorf teaching certificate. In the meantime, she attends the monthly WECAN study group. During her free time she loves practicing needle felting, reading a good mystery with a cup of tea, or listening to bagpipe music. Look closely on the MPCS playground on a rainy day, and you might see Ms. Alex splashing in a rain puddle alongside her students!

Melissa Windram

Melissa Windram

Morning Glory and Moon Flowers Classrooms - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

missmelissamorningglories@gmail.com

Melissa could not be more thrilled to be the Lead Teacher of the Half-Day Morning Glory Kindergarten and truly feels this opportunity to be a lifelong dream fulfilled and her living destiny.

In addition to teaching the Morning Glories, Melissa is a mother of two children Liam (age 10) and Maya (age 8) whom are enrolled as third and fifth graders here at MPCS. When Melissa and her husband Billy found Mountain Phoenix, they found home; finally a school and community that support an education and core value system that is in-sync with the beating of their own hearts. Here, she found a place where childhood is honored and preserved and feels so blessed to be a part of fostering this magic.

Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado. Presently, she is on the path of obtaining her Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Certification having completed the first year of Foundation Studies through the Center of Anthroposophy and is looking forward to continuing this journey of higher learning throughout this year. She began her teaching career in a nature-based preschool program on the Sunflower Farm where she found her passion for connecting children with nature. She now finds herself fully devoted to fostering the inherent wonder within each child by allowing them time and space to play freely among the trees, the puddles, fields and stones. And this is why when not at school, you may find her and her family (hubby, kids, dogs, and sometimes even Leo the cat) in places where mountains, mud, streams, trees and open sky reside. Having lived in Colorado now for 16 years, she could not be more grateful for this magnificent backyard the state offers. She also loves to trail run, cook, read, plant flowers, create, and spread joy!

Kathy Peters

Kathy Peters

Morning Glory Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

With a Master’s Degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from New York University, and as a former Recreation Therapist, Kathy feels passionately about the importance of play in the development of the whole child. A lover of the visual arts, she also studied Art History in Florence, Italy, for a semester as part of her undergraduate work. Kathy is grateful that a Waldorf education provides a developmentally appropriate curriculum and learning environment for children to flourish, and recognizes that the rhythms and opportunities for imaginative play and creativity are the building blocks for our Preschool/Kindergarten children to develop as whole human beings.

In her free time, Kathy enjoys preparing healthy, organic meals for her family, and learning about health and environmental issues. She has been a member of the Denver Holistic Moms Network since 2008, and is an active member of two local vegan community groups. Kathy's family attended the very first school orientation of the Wheat Ridge MPCS campus back in 2011, and have been grateful to be part of the community ever since. "Ms. Peters" is thankful to be given the gift of being a part of a child’s journey at MPCS, and her goal is to be worthy of imitation in a natural, loving, and creative environment.

Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson

Skylark Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

msandreaskindergarten@gmail.com

Ms. Andrea is thrilled to be the lead teacher in the Skylarks classroom. In 2005, Andrea completed her Masters in Elementary Education at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She then moved to Beulah, CO, and taught at a small community school until her first child was born. She then taught in a pre-k class in Golden for two years. Last year, Ms. Andrea was an assistant in the Skylark classroom and fell in love with the class and the Waldorf method. It felt like coming home to her, and she is overjoyed to lead the Skylarks.

Ms. Andrea has two daughters who attend Mountain Phoenix. Isabel is in second grade, and Hazel is in kindergarten. Andrea’s path to Mountain Phoenix was paved by her search for an education for her own children. She has personally experienced the effects of a Waldorf-inspired education and wholeheartedly believes in this method.

Andrea loves to hike, bike, and do yoga. She also knits, gardens, and plays (a little) guitar. However, spending time with her husband, daughters, and her shaggy dog (Magpie) is her very favorite way to spend a day.

Elementary School

Alissa Minatta

Alissa Minatta

Classroom Teacher - First Grade

alissa.minatta@jeffco.k12.co.us

Alissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an Elementary Teacher License. She values Waldorf education because it is a holistic approach to teaching while integrating arts throughout the curriculum. Instilling a life-long love of learning in students and building strong, meaningful relationships within the Mountain Phoenix community is essential to Alissa’s teaching philosophy. She is a native to Colorado who enjoys painting, hiking, traveling, playing tennis, and spending time with family. Alissa recently began her Waldorf Teacher Training at Gradalis in Salt Lake City, Utah and is eager to continue this journey.

Lydia Koprowski

Lydia Koprowski

Classroom Assistant - First Grade, Ms. Minatta

Lydia and her family moved to Colorado in 2013 from Cleveland, Ohio. Waldorf came into her life when her oldest daughter started attending The Spring Garden Waldorf School and Lydia worked in the school store. She has an Arts and Sciences degree from Tri-C as well as a theater background, and taught after-school theater programs for kids in North East Ohio. Last year Lydia had the opportunity to assist in the first grade as well as substitute teach almost every grade and specials class at Mountain Phoenix.

Cara Olivenza

Cara Olivenza

Classroom Teacher - First Grade

cara.olivenza@jeffco.k12.co.us

Cara grew up with a love of learning and nature. She graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Environmental Studies. She worked as a naturalist and outdoor science educator in many beautiful places, including Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Denali National Park, Teton Science School, and Keystone Science School. After she met her husband, she worked as a librarian and classroom paraprofessional in Fort Collins while earning her Masters in Elementary Education. She taught sixth grade Earth Science at a middle school in Thornton. After she had her daughter, she worked part-time as a special education reading interventionist in several Jeffco elementary schools. Cara then became the Program Specialist at Jeffco’s Windy Peak Outdoor Lab in Bailey, living with her family on the school campus. Cara loves the attentiveness to the development of the whole child, building community, and connection with the natural world in Waldorf education. She recently began her Waldorf teacher training.

Jack Cape

Jack Cape

Classroom Assistant - First Grade, Ms. Olivenza

Jack is a self-proclaimed 'Waldorf kid through and through!' He grew up attending the Hartsbrook School in the rolling hills of Western Massachusetts, and loved the emphasis the educational philosophy places on nature and the performing arts. He attended Earlham College where he studied International Relations and Environmental Studies, and worked at the local preschool. Since graduating college in 2013 he has held contracts with a number of different youth organizations, such as Circus Smirkus in Vermont, Widjiwagan Outdoor Learning in Minnesota, and YMCA Camp Santa Maria here in Colorado. He also spent several months working in the field of tourism and exploring the beautiful country of Guatemala. Jack enjoys traveling, hiking, swimming, spending time with his wonderful friends, cooking his famous bacon mac n' cheese, and, in his limited spare time, writing his first novel! He is incredibly excited to be joining the Mountain Phoenix team here in beautiful Colorado!

Eliza Bethany

Eliza Bethany

Classroom Teacher - Second Grade

ebethanysclass@gmail.com

Eliza graduated from the Antioch Waldorf Teacher training program in July of 2013. She has been a class teacher assistant in third grade with a master Waldorf teacher at Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder this past year. Eliza first learned of Waldorf education when her oldest daughter was an infant and she joined a parent group that evolved into what is now the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in Newtown, CT, where she then became a founding board member.

Eliza has been an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School and has a BFA from New Mexico State University. She also has a life-long passion for multi-cultural studies and human development. Waldorf Education provides a lively context for all her interests.

Rory Dushman

Rory Dushman

Classroom Teacher - Second Grade

rory.dushman@gmail.com

I grew up in up-state NY and the North suburbs of Chicago. I find joy in exploring nature and spent a majority of my childhood summers lakeside in the North woods of Wisconsin. Through the years I grew a passion for working with kids in experiential and innovative learning environments. I graduated from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with an Elementary Education Degree and Middle School Endorsements focusing on Language Arts. My excitement in teaching math helped me discover more ways to engage students in our Geometry Lab. While in school I spent a summer interning for Sesame Street Workshop in their Educational Research Department. I explored experiential ways of teaching reading, writing, and math skills to the early grades.

My favorite educational experiences have included my Wilderness First Responder course through NOLS; teaching water skiing and downhill skiing; head song leading with guitar; and teaching outdoor education at the Keystone Science School. I love getting lost in a good book, playing soccer, disc golf, running, and anything that involves the grass between my feet.

Jennifer Mathewson

Jennifer Mathewson

Classroom Assistant - Second Grade, Mr. Dushman and Ms. Bethanny

Jennifer has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Elementary Education and is a certified Elementary and Special Education teacher. She has been a teacher in grades 1-2, as well as a reading specialist, prior to taking time to raise her own children (now aged 14, 12, and 10) at home. She enjoys gardening, camping, and
snowboarding, and is thankful to be able to raise her family in such a beautiful state. Jennifer is also a Jazzercise instructor. She looks forward to returning to the classroom as an assistant in 2nd grade. She will be splitting her time between the two 2nd grade classrooms with Ms. Bethany and Mr. Dushman.

Bethany Dilda

Bethany Dilda

Classroom Teacher - Third Grade

bethany.dilda@jeffco.k12.co.us

Bethany grew up primarily in small-town Colorado, where she developed a love of knitting, hiking, gardening, poetry, drawing, and an enthusiasm for the world at large that continues to this day. Drawn to Waldorf education through the various arts, an integrated approach, and an opportunity to form long-term relationships with students and their families, she completed two years of full-time Waldorf Teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in 2011 and 2016. She also graduated with a BA and teaching certification in Elementary Education from Adams State University in 2015. While she is happy to be back in Colorado, and feels incredibly privileged to join the Mountain Phoenix faculty and community, she is most excited to spend the year guiding, making, building, and learning with an abundance of third graders.

Rob Erwin

Rob Erwin

Classroom Teacher - Third Grade

rob.erwin@jeffco.k12.co.us

Mr. Erwin is a former civil engineer but found his true passion in teaching. His education experiences include whole person, experiential, outdoor education, and of course, Waldorf education, He combines all of these in a nurturing community that empowers each child to discover his or her own special gifts and talents. Mr. Erwin has taught for nineteen years, in kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms and has his Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado, Denver. He enjoys gardening, hiking, spending time with his family, and adores his granddaughter, Lana.

Melissa Kacel

Melissa Kacel

Classroom Teacher - Fourth Grade

melissa.kacel@jeffco.k12.co.us

Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and has been a teacher for six years. She discovered Waldorf Education while looking for a school that resonated with her parenting style and philosophy, and was soon led to Mountain Phoenix Community School. She recently attended the Art of Teaching Third Grade in Waldorf Education at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA.

Lauren Koutavas

Lauren Koutavas

Classroom Teacher - Fourth Grade

lauren.koutavas@jeffco.k12.co.us

Lauren is a Colorado native, born and raised on the Front Range. She brings her natural curiosity to explore the outdoors into the classroom. She enjoys hiking and backpacking, photography, writing letters, spending time with family and her two dogs, Benny and June. Currently she is learning to play mandolin, and hopes to eventually bring that love into the classroom. Lauren going into her fourth year in education. She went back to school to get her teacher certification within a few years of completing her undergraduate studies in Women and Gender Studies and Biology at CU Boulder. Since then, she has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade in the public school setting. In May of 2016, Lauren completed a Master’s in educational psychology, with a concentration in human learning and development. It is with this background that she decided to continue her own career journey and become a part of Waldorf education. Waldorf intrigues her because it combines developmentally appropriate curriculum, arts education, and life skills into a beautiful and enriching experience, for both student and teacher alike. She has recently completed her first summer of Waldorf teacher training in Salt Lake City, Utah and is thrilled to join the Mountain Phoenix community!

Christa Valdez

Christa Valdez

Classroom Teacher - Fifth Grade

christasclass@gmail.com

Christa is a native of Northern New Mexico and is happy to be making a life for herself and her son in Denver. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education through Prescott College. Christa completed her Waldorf Certification through Antioch University New England with an emphasis on Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She went on to complete a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Teacher Leadership through Concordia University. She has experience teaching in both private and public Waldorf schools and is happy to bring Waldorf Education to all children. Christa loves photography, painting, gardening, handwork, African Dance classes, classical music, theatrical plays, and spending time with her son and her dog Jupiter. Her favorite aspect of being a Waldorf teacher is that every school day the teachers and the students are co-creating an inspiring and enriching learning experience together.

Michelle Hollandsworth

Michelle Hollandsworth

Classroom Teacher - Fifth Grade

michelle.hollandsworth@jeffco.k12.co.us

Michelle comes to Mountain Phoenix with twelve years of teaching experience, ten of which are in Jeffco Public Schools as a teacher librarian, most recently at a bilingual school. Her path to Waldorf education has been a recent one, but she feels that many of her life experiences have been leading in this direction. She brings a love of storytelling, nature, and music, which includes singing and playing the piano, guitar, electric bass, recorder, and pentatonic flute. Michelle is receiving her Waldorf Teaching Training at Rudolf Steiner College in California. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and her Master’s degree in Library Science from Syracuse University. She has her teaching license in New York and Colorado. Michelle is married and has two grown children. She enjoys doing yoga, reading, bicycling, and gardening. She is excited to be joining Mountain Phoenix where she can combine her experience in public education with her love of Waldorf education.

Middle School

C.J. Hawk

C.J. Hawk

Classroom Teacher - Sixth Grade

christine.hawk@jeffco.k12.co.us

CJ has a Colorado State Teacher license in Elementary Education and has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies. She has been an educator for over 10 years and was a founding teacher of a cooperative charter school in San Diego. CJ recently completed the Art of Teaching Grade 5 in Waldorf Education at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California.

CJ has a passion for helping her students develop a lifelong love of learning, stewardship for the environment, and respect for diversity. She looks forward to bringing this through Waldorf Education into the charter school movement.

Eric Ebert

Eric Ebert

Classroom Teacher - Sixth Grade

eric.ebert@jeffco.k12.co.us

Eric holds a B.A. degree from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, and an M.A. in Waldorf and Integrated Day education from Antioch New England Graduate School. His transformative experience at St. John’s convinced him of the value of a liberal arts education. He has worked to bring that sort of experience to children in a number of settings, including private and public Waldorf-methods schools. A strong believer in the lessons Nature has to teach, he is particularly happy to return to the mountain west.

Ydi Alonso

Ydi Alonso

Classroom Teacher - Seventh Grade

ydialonso@gmail.com

Ydi brings over 16 years of experience in the field of education. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in English as a Second Language as well as Master’s degree in Reading. She began her career as an Academic Advisor at the college level. She has over 12 years of teaching experience in grades 3-7. Her love for nature and exploration as well as the performing arts are a part of what she enjoys sharing with her students in the classroom. Ydi first learned about Waldorf Education during her undergraduate work where she focused her senior thesis on Rudolf Steiner, thus sparking her enthusiasm for bringing this approach to students in her classes. Ydi attended the Art of Teaching grade 7 at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA this summer to support her preparations for the upcoming school year & is planning to begin her formal Waldorf Education Certification in the summer of 2017.

Eowyn Ciccone

Eowyn Ciccone

Classroom Teacher - Seventh Grade

eowyn.ciccone@jeffco.k12.co.us

Eowyn has served as a middle school and high school educator for over 19 years in private, public, and Waldorf schools. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Secondary English Education from SUNY New Paltz, is a National Board Certified Teacher, and has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Supervision from UNC Charlotte.

Eowyn values a rich curriculum and guiding students toward self-knowledge. Her teaching practice cultivates a sense of beauty for life and helping students reach their greatest potential. 

She looks forward to bringing this practice forth through Waldorf Education within the charter school movement. Eowyn enjoys yoga, cross country skiing, metaphysics, reading, writing, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets! Eowyn is thrilled to join the Mountain Phoenix Community and looks forward to beginning her Waldorf Teacher training next summer!

Joshua Anander

Joshua Anander

Classroom Teacher - Eighth Grade

joshua.anander@jeffco.k12.co.us

Josh grew up in Connecticut and spent several years in the Pacific Northwest before settling in Colorado. He graduated from the University of Washington with an emphasis in history and earned his teaching credentials through a partnership with Regis University. He has been teaching for over 10 years and has been at Mountain Phoenix since the Wheat Ridge campus opened. Josh loves the Waldorf approach, especially the integration of the arts into the everyday curriculum and the emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving. He has attended many wonderful Waldorf continuing education programs and has loved incorporating new methods into his classroom. He is excited to share Mountain Phoenix with his two children who are presently in elementary school here. When not teaching, Josh likes to spend time with his family enjoying the outdoors and taking in a baseball game.

Brian Williams

Brian Williams

Classroom Teacher - Eighth Grade

brian.williams@jeffco.k12.co.us

Brian has his Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education Language Arts and has been a Middle School teacher and Language Arts Department Chair for several years. He also has enjoyed teaching and coaching cycling and soccer. He recently attended the Art of Teaching Grade 8 in Waldorf Education at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA.

Specials

Kelli Cahoone

Kelli Cahoone

Chorus and Spanish Teacher

kelli.cahoone@jeffco.k12.co.us

Kelli Cahoone was raised in the Denver area and attended the "Open School" in later high school years where she discovered a love for Spanish after a family stay in Mexico. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish and Creative Writing from Metro State University and studied for a semester abroad in Seville, Spain. After college she spent four years in Chile and Argentina teaching English and playing music with local musicians. She has taught Spanish for over 20 years and at all levels including College and preschool.

She discovered Front Range Waldorf School by accident in 2005, where she was hired to teach Spanish as well as other subjects and spent two years working, studying, and observing grades 1 to 4 under wonderful mentors like Lois Hartman. She came to Mountain Phoenix in 2010 with her daughter starting the first grade.

Kelli also studied classical piano as a young child for about 6 years and then took it back up in later years and taught herself accordion in Buenos Aires. She there also began a singing/songwriting career and goes by the name "Kal Cahoone" as a musician and has recorded a number of albums under this name and others. She has performed in local venues with many talented musicians and enjoys singing. Kal also sings with a Russian Orthodox Choir and enjoys theater and dance. Kal is thrilled for the opportunity to teach chorus this year and is currently in pursuit of certification in Werbeck Training for the Voice.

Cecilia Alban

Cecilia Alban

Spanish Teacher

cecilia.alban@jeffco.k12.co.us

Cecilia was born in La Rioja, Argentina. She is a lawyer, and her first language is Spanish. She moved to Denver in 2009 when she married her husband. When she lived in Argentina, she worked in the Senate and taught International Law in the University. Cecilia has been teaching and working as a Spanish tutor for 5 years. This is her second year as a Spanish teacher at Mountain Phoenix. She always says that this is the most rewarding and enjoyable work that she has ever had. Working with children, she has the opportunity not only to teach Spanish but to share Latin American Culture through the use of storytelling, songs, plays, and even recipes that she used with her mom when she was a child.

Cecilia and her husband enjoy traveling to different countries and learning about other cultures, food, and people. She has visited 25 states in the US and many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America. She loves to cook, knit, bake, and read, but teaching Spanish is one of her favorites activities.

Cecilia believes Mountain Phoenix is a great school and feels that she is working with amazing people. She hopes she can continue to be part of MPCS for many years to come.

Liza Cole-Brant

Liza Cole-Brant

Handwork Teacher

liza.brant@jeffco.k12.co.us

Liza is a second-generation Waldorf teacher. She began her Waldorf journey attending City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she developed a passion for the fiber arts. She attended Naropa University and holds a BA in contemplative psychology with a double minor in education and visual arts. She enjoys bringing art to the classroom and inspiring children to create and appreciate beauty. Liza is thrilled to be MPCS’s new Handwork teacher! Let’s knit!

Michelle TheoHarris

Michelle TheoHarris

Handwork Assistant

Photo and bio coming soon.

Janell Ince

Janell Ince

PE Teacher

303.728.9100

Born and raised in Texas around the Houston area. I had a passion for horses. I rode in trail rides, raced barrels, did pole bending rings, pick up rider, and posted the colors for the drill team. I was also very active in girl scouts. I enjoy crafts, animals and crocheting. I ski, golf, and swim and play with my 2 grandsons when I can.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in English and Health & Physical Education from Stephen F. Austin University in Texas and later my Masters in Education. I began by teaching high school English but eventually got a physical education position in Louisiana. I later got a middle school physical education position in the public school system as head of the women’s department in a brand new middle school and coached several sports.

I moved to Oklahoma and taught there, then California and finally in Colorado. I have taught 4th grade in a Montessori school and I have taught 5th grade in a Carden system. I trained for Waldorf under Edmund Knighten twice and loved it.

I have four wonderful children, 2 boys and 2 girls who work hard and are successful and 2 beautiful grandsons.

I work on several events at the school but the Pentathlon is by far my passion. This is due to my extensive track background. I also excelled in swimming and diving.

To sum everything up, “I LOVE MY JOB”

Lynn Pollitt

Lynn Pollitt

Games Teacher

rakin5378@gmail.com

From the moment Lynn came to MPCS as a substitute teacher, she knew she was home. Now as the new games teacher for grades 1-3 and home school, she feels that her nearly 50 year career of working with children and families has come full circle. She feels that the Waldorf philosophy and way of teaching is in alignment with everything she feels and believes about teaching. And that is marvelous!

She is certified in early childhood, has a Bachelor's degree in English and sociology from Peru State College and is currently working on a Master's degree in creative writing. She also completed training in games through the Movement for Childhood at the East Aurora Waldorf School in NY.

Lynn started her journey to MPCS in Wichita Ks, as a preschool teacher and along the way she worked as a camp director for Campfire Girls, and a religious education director.

When she moved to Nebraska, she served as the Youth and Family Director for the YMCA in Lincoln, NE and the outdoor education coordinator for YMCA Camp Kitaki and Lincoln Public Schools.

Taking a detour to the corporate world she worked in marketing and communications for a Fortune 500 company and then management development and training for First National Bank of Omaha.

She then traveled back to non-profit work as the Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts of Nebraska. Her final role before retirement was in service to children and families as the director of the domestic violence and sexual assault program for the YWCA of Omaha.

The mountains called and she had to go; retiring to Colorado three years ago. Retirement wasn't for Lynn so she got her substitute license and with the encouragement of her friend, Mrs. Ince, she found her way to MPCS.

She has two grown children and three granddaughters. In her spare time she leads the music at her church in the mountains, likes to go jeeping, play with her dog Friskin, help in the family woodworking business and be a re-enactor for the Gilpin County Historical Society.

Haley Scheuerman

Haley Scheuerman

Band Teacher

haley.scheuerman@jeffco.k12.co.us

Haley Scheuerman has loved music since an early age--she grew up listening to her Mother and Nana play piano for years before finally asking for lessons in the third grade. In Middle School, Haley began playing the flute and the oboe, and eventually went on to receive her Bachelors Degree in Instrumental Music Education from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Haley taught Middle School Band for six years at Lake Asbury Junior High School in Green Cove Springs, FL, where the band grew from 35 students to over 130, and consistently received Excellent and Superior ratings in performance. During that time, Haley performed with the Clay County Community Band as principal Oboist, taught private oboe lessons, and taught Yoga classes at Out the Box Mind Body Studio in Orange Park, FL. In 2014, Haley was chosen LAJH’s Teacher of the Year. Later that year, Haley was accepted into the University of Colorado Boulder’s Masters of Music Education program, prompting her move to Boulder, CO. In May 2016, Haley graduated with her Masters and accepted her new position at Mountain Phoenix Community School! She is very excited to learn as much as she can about Waldorf principles and to interact with new students and colleagues.

Justino Perez

Justino Perez

Orchestra Director and Lower Strings Specialist

justino.perez@jeffco.k12.co.us

Justino Perez studied piano with Dr. Daniella Mineva, cello with Carol Jacobson, and composition with Dr. J. Brian Post at Humboldt State University. At Humboldt State he was the recipient of the Van Duzer Scholarship and Fulkerson Scholarship, was President of the Music Club and a Presidential Scholar, and graduated with academic honors. At HSU Mr. Perez had the honor of developing and teaching his own music theory lab courses, under the provision of Dr. Cindy Moyer, and has been a Theory and Cello instructor for The Porterville Intensive Strings Workshop. Justino has also studied Composition with renown composers Stacy Garrop and David Rakowski. In his past, Mr. Perez has participated in the Fresh Inc. festival for new music, and he premiered two new works including "Trio for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano," at The Ravinia Music Festival, as well as "I Just Lost to Myself at Hide and Seek," written for The Eclipse Trio. He also frequently premieres works with many ensembles from The Humboldt Symphony College of the Redwoods Concert Band, and The Vipisa Trio. Justino Is an active member of The National Association of Composers and has been featured by the association on concerts. Justino has been the principal cellist for the Humboldt Symphony and has performed in other ensembles such as The Eureka Symphony, The All Seasons Orchestra, and The Humboldt Light Opera Company. Recent composition master classes include working with Dr. Chen Yi. Justino is also a private cello and composition teacher.

Ella Weiss

Ella Weiss

Upper Strings Specialist

yenlik.weiss@jeffco.k12.co.us

Dr. Yenlik (Ella) Weiss holds advanced degrees in Violin Performance and has over fifteen years of experience teaching strings in individual, group, ensemble, and orchestral settings. Ella graduated with honors from the National Kurmangazy Conservatory in her native Kazakhstan and came to the US to study on a full scholarship in 1997. She completed her Master of Music in Violin Performance in Cleveland and received her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Ella is a passionate teacher dedicated to helping her students succeed and achieve their best. In Los Angeles, she taught string classes and orchestras at the Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA), a non-profit organization with the mission to provide and promote music in disadvantaged schools. She also taught at Renaissance Arts Academy, an award-winning, public, charter school for the Performing Arts in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is Artistic Director, teaches strings, and conducts orchestras at Golden Music in Golden, Colorado.

Ella maintains contracts with the Boulder Philharmonic, Redlands Symphony, and San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with Opera Colorado, Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra, Santa Barbara Opera, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, Riverside Symphony Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, Colorado Music Festival, Marina del Rey Symphony, and Aspen Choral Society, and served as Associate Concertmaster of the Colorado Mahler Festival, Boulder Philharmonic, and Boulder Chamber Orchestra. She has performed with Sir Elton John and Sarah McLachlan, was a featured soloist for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra, Aurora Symphony, performed on Colorado Public Radio, and performed numerous chamber solos in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Karen Smith

Karen Smith

Art Teacher

karen.eberle-smith@jeffco.k12.co.us

Karen came to Mountain Phoenix while in search of a school that was a good fit for her son Riley. She found that and more. She discovered a wonderful, loving community with a teaching philosophy that fit right in with her own pedagogy. Karen has more than 20 years of experience teaching art to children of all ages. Much of that time was working with students in non-profit organizations. Karen believes art helps students to become life-long lovers of learning.

Karen is a multimedia artist who periodically shows her art in the Denver metro area. As an artist, she is constantly learning new materials and styles for creating her art. Her undergraduate studies were in sculpture and modern dance. She graduated from SUNY Potsdam in New York State, and she spent a year studying at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston and a semester abroad in England. Karen recently completed her Masters of Arts in Arts Education at University of Northern Colorado. Her thesis explored what curriculum best creates questioning learners.

When she is not making art or sharing her love of art with others, Karen can be found spending time with her husband and two children. She also loves gardening and plans someday to learn to play the guitar.

Laura Babb

Laura Babb

Art Assistant

Laura has a Master’s in Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Education. She recently was a classroom assistant at the Austin Waldorf School where she also was enrolled in the local Waldorf Teacher Training program for one year that included Foundation Studies. She is excited to be returning to CO where she has lived before and assisting Karen in her Art classes.

Elizabeth Uppenbrink

Elizabeth Uppenbrink

Eurythmy Teacher (K-3) & Chorus Teacher (5-8)

elizabeth.uppenbrink@jeffco.k12.co.us

Elizabeth Uppenbrink came to Waldorf education through her children, who attended the Suncoast Waldorf School in Palm Harbor, FL. She was hired to teach music there in 2008 and taught there for two and a half years. Then, when she met eurythmy, she decided to go back to school for eurythmy! She received her eurythmy diploma in 2016 from Sound Circle Eurythmy in Boulder. She also has a BA in music and a minor in German from the University of Rochester, including coursework at the Eastman School of Music. She appreciates having the opportunity to teach eurythmy and chorus this year at Mountain Phoenix.

Miriam Bijkerk

Miriam Bijkerk

Orchestra Teacher

Miriam was born in Holland and grew up in Germany where she attended a K-13 Waldorf School. She moved to the US in 2012. She earned her Bachelor of Music from the Rotterdam Conservatory, Masters of Music from CU Boulder, and Masters in Arts Administration from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Miriam currently plays with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra.

Special Education

Beate Hybinette

Beate Hybinette

Special Education Teacher

beate.hybinette@jeffco.k12.co.us

Beate joins us at Mountain Phoenix as a Special Education teacher. She brings an incredible passion to helping children overcome their learning struggles and reach their full potential, along with a unique background that includes highly specialized training in both holistic and academic intervention strategies.

Beate graduated with her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Design from CCU with a thesis capstone project on educating parents of children with learning difficulties and disabilities about a variety of intervention techniques that are available for their children, and how these can be applied in the most effective way to help the child flourish.

Her training includes: Neuro-Motor Readiness training in education at the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology (INPP) in Chester, England, working with Sally Goddard and Peter Blythe, PhD.; Advanced Practitioner training with Integrated Listening Systems (iLs), an auditory processing remediation tool, and her CNHP; F.A.S.T., a systematic phonics-based program approved by CDE (Colorado Department of Education) for the new READ act; Read Naturally, a research-based reading fluency and comprehension program; Every Child a Writer, a fantastic K-12 writing program adopted in many school districts throughout Colorado; as well as a variety of Math intervention techniques.

Beate holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades, and has tutored 2nd through 10th graders. She works with neuromotor readiness training and auditory remediation in private practice primarily during the summer. Her philosophy is that it is imperative as a Special Education teacher to understand the developmental background of the whole child in order to meet children where they are in the developmental process. When intervention strategies are applied in the most appropriate order, helping children is quicker, more effective, and longer lasting. Holistic methods alone, however, are not sufficient enough by themselves when a child has to catch up academically, and so it is also crucial to apply the most effective academic intervention strategies to help children close the academic achievement gap they face in the classroom.

Lin Welch

Lin Welch

Special Education Teacher

lin.welch@jeffco.k12.co.us

Lin grew up in upstate New York on the Canadian border with her four brothers. Her education began in business, and she received her A.A.S. 2-year degree in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting. After working several years in the business world, Lin decided to become a teacher.

She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a B.A. Degree in Special Education. She currently has three endorsements in Special Education. Lin has worked as a Special Education resource teacher as well as a classroom teacher with children from preschool through eighth grade.

Early in her life, Lin encountered Waldorf Education at the first Waldorf school in Colorado in Greeley. She completed her Waldorf Teacher training in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. She has taught Kindergarten in private Waldorf Schools as well as in another Waldorf Charter.

Lin has developed and incorporated Waldorf therapeutic remedial work throughout her teaching career. She has an M.A. degree in Transpersonal Counseling and Education from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, post master’s course work in Dance Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and post master’s course work in Applied Psychology from the University of Santa Monica in California. This is Lin’s fifth year mentoring Lakota teachers at the Lakota Waldorf School at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This is her second year at Mountain Phoenix Charter School.

All in all Lin has been teaching for 27 years. Waldorf education and therapeutic support for children has been her passion and her life’s work. She has a wonderful 26-year-old daughter who was educated in Waldorf Schools and who graduated from Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, Colorado.

Karen Beach

Karen Beach

Special Education Reading Specialist

karen.beach@jeffco.k12.co.us

Karen graduated from Colorado Christian University with a degree in Elementary Education with teaching credentials through the University of Colorado. In addition, she has an added Endorsement in Special Education. Her specialty is in Reading development and she holds a certification in teaching Orton Gillingham based Dyslexic intervention. She also has training in iLs (Integrated Listening Systems), Phonological Awareness: A Linguistic Process, Every Child a Writer, Read Naturally, Fundations (Wilson Program) and Screening for Dyslexia. Karen has enjoyed teaching for over 18 years and has taught in all grades K – 8.

Karen loves doing intervention with the kids and she loves seeing their confidence grow as they acquire skills that make them successful in school! As she learns the “Waldorf ways” she has found some wonderful and amazing ideas that she loves and is passing those on to her daughter who is starting her first year in teaching! In her spare time, she loves spending time with her four grandkids. She thinks the saying, “grandkids are better than kids” is true!

Jena Roach

Jena Roach

Interventionist

jena.roach@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jena was born in Oklahoma, and her family moved to Colorado when she was a little over a year old. They lived in Grand Junction until she was nine, and then they moved to Colorado Springs. Jena has lived in California and Kentucky as well. She moved to Arvada when she got married and has enjoyed living in her community. She is married and has three daughters, two dogs, and one bird.

Jena started working in Jefferson County school district in December of 2002 as an elementary assistant. She wanted to learn more about being a teacher, specifically in the area of special education for reading, and began by taking classes at Red Rocks Community College as part of their para to educator program. She also started taking any training that was available through the district in reading/writing intervention. After Jena graduated from the “Rock,” she transferred into the Teacher Education program at Regis University. Her main goal in continuing her education was to learn to help her students to become better readers and writers. She has never wanted to be a classroom teacher, as she enjoys so much working with small groups of students as an Interventionist.

Jena has taken multiple trainings through the school district and on her own in the remediation of reading difficulties, which includes the Wilson Reading System; Fundations; Text Savvy, a comprehension program; Remedial Reading and Linguist Remedies beginning through advanced; programs for at risk children with specific reading and writing difficulties, such as dyslexia; Read Naturally, a research-based reading fluency and comprehension program; Teaching Reading and Writing K-6th grades; Developing Metacognitive Skills; DRA2 assessment; and DIBELs. She also took the Jefferson County training for Elementary Cognitive Coaching in 2009. Last year she was able to attend the training with Integrated Listening Systems (ILS), an auditory processing remediation tool, and was trained in F.A.S.T., a systematic phonics-based program. She also trained in using Every Child a Writer, a K-12 writing program.

Jena started working at Mountain Phoenix in August of 2012 as an Interventionist, the second year that the school was in Wheat Ridge. She has enjoyed learning about the Waldorf method through a variety of books, on line reading, and MPCS's team of great teachers. She feels very fortunate to have found such an interesting place to work.

Jamie Pittock

Jamie Pittock

Counselor

jamie.pittock@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jamie has worked supporting kids and families for more than ten years and has a degree in human development from the University of Kansas.

Jamie believes that no one needs to be stuck in a negative space or is ever past being able to change. She loves the energy and the atmosphere at Mountain Phoenix and is grateful for the opportunity to support our students and families.