Faculty Bios


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Seedlings

Susan Skokan

Susan Skokan

Seedlings Classroom - Lead Teacher, Parent/Child

susan.skokan@jeffco.k12.co.us

Susan has been working with children in early childhood since January 2007. She has been immersed in Waldorf Education and involved in MPCS since the summer of 2011. She also ran a licensed child care and home preschool from summer 2012 to Summer 2014. She has been a lead teacher in summer camps at the Denver Waldorf School. She has two sons who attend MPCS.

ducation
LiveWays early childhood teacher certification – May 2014
Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy – May 2016
Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher certification- July 2019 through Sound Circle
Early Childhood Teacher certification – May 2008
MSU Art Degree – emphasis Photography, minor English Writing
WECAN Continuing Teacher Education with Nancy Blanning and others – countless hours 2011 - present

Loves: Children and their discoveries, their point of view. Art and creating art, being outside, water, music, poetry, nature, family, real conversations, thoughtfulness, yoga.

Why Auntie? Part of the LifeWays approach to children is that school is first an extension of home and family. Your children are warmly welcomed here.

Susan started teaching at MPCS in 2011. From 2016-2021 she taught home school kindergarten. She founded the Seedlings Program in 2016 and continues serving infants, toddlers and parents. Festivals and connections with families are the highlights of the years!

ECE

Joy Wegs

Joy Wegs

Program Director of Early Childhood

jwegs@jeffcoschools.us

As the Program Director for Early Childhood, "Auntie Joy" is here to help, hold and assist in anyway she can! She has been an integral part of Mountain Phoenix since the school moved to this campus in 2011. She is thrilled to wrap her arms around the entire Early Childhood Department and various committees throughout our campus. She proudly calls MPCS her home away from home!

Along with being an Early Childhood Director and Teacher, she also has a random degree in Outdoor Recreation (rafting anyone?), as well as a certificate in Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Outside of Mountain Phoenix, Joy loves spending time teaching and practicing yoga, hiking with her family and snuggling up her pups.

Robin Brough

Robin Brough

Buttercups Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

robin.brough@jeffco.k12.co.us

Robin is the lead teacher in the Buttercups Pre-K class. She has been at MPCS since 2012. Robin loves the community, families and staff at Mountain Phoenix.

She graduated from Naropa University with a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and a focus on Visual Arts and Traditional Eastern Arts. Robin also has graduated from the Foundations program through the Center for Anthroposophy and has completed the Lifeways Training of North America. Robin has her Waldorf Teacher Certification from Sophia's Hearth in Keene New Hampshire. Her certification specialized in studying the child in from birth to age seven - the foundation of the early childhood teacher's work.

Robin truly loves working in the nursery and the best part of her job is spending time with all of the littles that are filled with wonder each day. She considers it to be a true gift to spend time with such young innocent souls who bring so much joy and laughter to her life! In her free time Robin loves to travel to visit with family and friends spread around the country, hike, and spend time in the sunshine at the beach whenever she can.

Janet Romero

Janet Romero

Buttercups Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

Ashley Bernier

Ashley Bernier

Sweet Peas Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

ashley.bernier@jeffco.k12.co.us

Born and raised in South Texas, Ashley thought the retail world was the path for her until she did a complete turnaround and leaned towards child education. She felt the need to do something meaningful and rewarding; therefore, Ashley went back to school and changed her major.

Ashley first started working with infants to kinder age 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. There Ashley worked with the youngest ages of 6 weeks to 2 years. She learned the ways of an in-home daycare setting, building the experience and knowledge of early childhood. After 3yrs of working at the in-home daycare, a new home was calling in Colorado. In May of 2015, Ashley proudly graduated with her Associates in Early Childhood Education and holding a Director’s Certificate from Red Rocks Community College. She also holds a Waldorf Certificate in early Childhood from the Sound Circle II training program in Seattle, Washington. With time permitting, Ashley would love to open up her own Waldorf-Inspired, in-home daycare.

When not at work, Ashley enjoys spending her free time with her husband traveling, sightseeing, jamming to some good ol classic oldies, playing dominos, watching movies and exploring the beautiful Colorado scene. But what Ashley really misses and loves to be at, is the beach. Nothing beats those ocean waves.

As each school year begins, Ashley always looks forward to meeting new families and seeing many returning families, even the families she has worked with her first year at Mountain Phoenix. She is always happy and ready with her apron on, assisting in the Buttercups preschool classroom. She loves working with the little ones watching them grow and being able to be a part of the experience. Ashley also feels blessed for having the opportunity being a part of the Leadership Team as the “Head” for the ECE Program.

Ayelen Baliva

Ayelen Baliva

Sweet Peas Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

ayelen.baliva@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jennifer Wendland-Diaz

Jennifer Wendland-Diaz

Dandelions Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

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 13 years including teaching in a small community school in Mexico for three years that integrated festivals, nature experiences, and the arts within the curriculum. Jennifer has completed her Waldorf Teacher Training, and she also started another Waldorf Training, Nurturing the Roots. Jennifer has a passion for developmentally-appropriate and arts-integrated education and looks forward to bringing Waldorf Education to the charter school movement. She has two sons at Mountain Phoenix, one going into fourth grade and the other second grade.

Joan Scherry

Joan Scherry

Dandelions Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

Joan is originally from St. Louis Missouri. She and her family moved here in 2018 which is when her children started school at MPCS as a 4th and 6th grader. Joan's introduction to Waldorf education was when her kids were toddlers, and about 4 years after leaving her career in traditional early childhood education. She has loved living here and being a part of the MPCS community.

Joan joined the MPCS faculty as the Dandelion’s assistant teacher in 2020. Her passions are crafting, spending time in the mountains (especially soaking in the hot springs) and learning about quantum physics.

Elizabeth McCune

Elizabeth McCune

Bluebirds Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

elizabeth.mccune@jeffco.k12.co.us

"In 2011, my 3rd grader, 1st grader, Kindergartner, Pre-schooler and I all started school together at Mountain Phoenix. It has carried each one of us on the journey of a lifetime. Coming from a background in Marriage and Family Therapy, I relish the opportunity to work in collaboration with families of every form as well as revel in the joy that comes from working everyday with young children who constantly bring me love, laughter, challenge and innate wisdom. I was fortunate to complete my Waldorf Teacher Certificate through Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California in 2015.

My husband, affectionately known as Farmer Chris (he often has a supporting role in the many farm tales I tell the children), and I run Roost Farms in Wheat Ridge. I love quiet mornings feeding the animals and long walks around the neighborhood. Supporting children and families and building community is a passion of mine. My colleagues and my experience as a parent and teacher at MPCS is an immense source of gratitude and joy in my life."

Danett Hernandez

Danett Hernandez

Bluebirds Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

danett.hernandez@jeffco.k12.co.us

Bettina Huber

Bettina Huber

Chickadees Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

Growing up in Germany Bettina graduated from the Ludwig-Maximillians-University in Munich/Germany with a doctorate degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2005. She met her husband Alastair who made his way down from Calgary to Denver during an internship with a veterinary clinic in 2004. To end the hardship of a long distance relationship the two of them decided to get married in 2006 and to settle down together in Denver. Since then Bettina has been at home, raising her two children (Ellen and Myles) and accumulating a bunch of animals. She has been deeply involved as a parent in our school since September 2011 when the Wheat Ridge campus opened and her daughter Ellen started preschool.

Bettina experienced Waldorf education during her own childhood and she feels very thankful that Mountain Phoenix offers a piece of home and German culture for her and her family. Bettina loves to be outside in nature and thinks that a big part of her love for Waldorf education is the ability to connect children with nature and the flow of the season over the year. She believes that following the rhythm of nature and it’s natural changes is a great source of grounding and slowing down to reflect in our daily life and in our today’s fast paced society.

In her free time Bettina likes to craft and create, she believes that the process of making art and being creative improves children’s (and adult’s) physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and is therefore essential in early childhood education.

She also likes gardening, spending time with her family, dogs and chickens and traveling especially when trips involve adventures, lots of nature, camping and hot springs.

Bettina started working as a kindergarten classroom assistant in 2016 and is very excited to continue the journey with the Chickadees this year!

Leah Hickler

Leah Hickler

Chickadees Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

leah.hickler@jeffco.k12.co.us

Leah Hickler is a Colorado native and has 3 kids that have all been at Mountain Phoenix since the school opened in 2011. Her son is moving on to high school this year and her girls are in grades 3 and 6. This is Leah's 6th year teaching at the school, most of that has been in the Chickadees classroom. My loves outside the classroom include my family, yoga, hanging with friends, hiking, reading, and traveling.

"We love the school so much. The campus is beautiful, the teachers are amazing, and the growth I have seen in my children through Waldorf teaching has been everything I had hoped for." This is my

Melissa Windram

Melissa Windram

Honey Bees Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

melissa.windram@jeffco.k12.co.us

Melissa could not be more thrilled to be the Lead Teacher of the Honey Bees Kindergarten, and truly feels this opportunity to be a lifelong dream fulfilled and her living destiny.

In addition to teaching the Honey Bees, Melissa is a mother of three children whom have/will go through the program at Mountain Phoenix. 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!

Shana Robertson

Shana Robertson

Honey Bees Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

shana.robertson@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jacqueline Votanek

Jacqueline Votanek

Sunflowers Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

jackie.votanek@jeffco.k12.co.us

Sarah Spica

Sarah Spica

Sunflowers Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

sarah.spica@jeffco.k12.co.us

Elementary School

Olivia Filion

Olivia Filion

Classroom Teacher - Grade One

olivia.filion@jeffco.k12.co.us

Olivia moved to Colorado in 2017 to attend the University of Denver, and earned her Masters in Elementary Education the following year. Olivia began teaching 3rd grade in the Denver Public School system, but since she found the Mountain Phoenix Community School in 2019 she has fallen in love with the Waldorf curriculum. Here, Olivia has been able to integrate her interests in exploring the outdoors, cooking, knitting, and art into her classroom. She is excited to continue her journey with MPCS throughout the grades in the primary years.

Katherine Comstock

Katherine Comstock

Classroom Teacher - Grade One

katherine.comstock@jeffco.k12.co.us

Katherine was born and raised in Colorado. She has received her Early Childhood Degree
and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Endorsement. When not teaching, Katherine enjoys baking, drawing, hanging out with her dog, walking, and listening to music.

Alissa Minatta

Alissa Minatta

Classroom Teacher - Grade Two

alissa.minatta@jeffco.k12.co.us

Alissa has lived in Colorado her entire life and in her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, snowboarding, and spending time with friends and family. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with an Elementary Teachers License and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Alissa values Waldorf education because it is a holistic approach to teaching that strives to develop every aspect of the child. Through this work, a life-long love of learning and strong, meaningful relationships can be instilled in children as they continue on their path of growth. Alissa has completed her Waldorf Teacher Certification program and is on her second loop of teaching 1st-5th grade. She is eager to continue learning alongside the students each year!

Kate Grigsby

Kate Grigsby

Classroom Teacher - Grade Two

kate.grigsby@jeffco.k12.co.us

Maggie Forbes

Maggie Forbes

Classroom Teacher - Grade Three

maggie.forbes@jeffco.k12.co.us

Maggie grew up in the coastal New England town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood development from UNCW. She first encountered Waldorf education during her studies, and immediately fell in love with Waldorf's methodology, specifically as it relates to the developmental needs of children. In 2017, she began her teaching career, first in Hawaii as a founding teacher of an art-integrated charter school, then a class teacher and homeschool mentor at a Waldorf/forest cooperative. She is constantly inspired by children’s curiosity, joy, and enthusiasm and enjoys learning so much from her students each day. Maggie is deeply committed to creating balance in education and honoring the natural wonder of childhood. She will complete her Waldorf certification at the West Coast Institute in Canada this year.

Eric Ebert

Eric Ebert

Classroom Teacher - Grade Three

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.

Kathryn Gigantiello

Kathryn Gigantiello

Classroom Teacher - Grade Four

kathryn.gigantiello@jeffco.k12.co.us

From Southern New Jersey, after graduating from college,Katie moved to Colorado in 2015 due to her great love for the mountains and getting out in nature! It’s a perfect match for some of her favorite hobbies: hiking, skiing, and horseback riding. She also enjoys yoga, relaxing at home, and spending time with her husband, Terry, two cats, Lily and Jem.

Katie holds a B.A. in Theatre and a Master's Degree in Elementary Education (K-6th) from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. She previously worked as a preschool counselor at the YMCA in Estes Park for a summer and then worked in DPS for 2 years before discovering and falling in love with Waldorf Education. Katie started at Mountain Phoenix with a 4th grade class and carried them through Grade 5 before looping back down to Grade 1. As a Waldorf teacher, she is drawn to the holistic approach to teaching, the integration of arts throughout the curriculum, the ability to be creative, and the opportunity to build strong relationships with students and their families.

Cara Olivenza

Cara Olivenza

Classroom Teacher - Grade Four

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.

Michele Ford-Kuntz

Michele Ford-Kuntz

Classroom Teacher - Grade Five

michele.kuntz@jeffco.k12.co.us

Michele Ford Kuntz: In 1999, Michele moved to Denver from Seattle, and after working in the corporate world for several years, and soon realized her true calling and passion in life to teach and inspire children. Michele holds an undergraduate degree in Theater from the University of Washington, as well as a Master’s degree 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.

In 2016, Michele completed Foundation Studies through the Center for Anthroposophy, then began working towards Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher certification through Sound Circle Center for Anthroposophy in June of 2017. After teaching various methods and grades from Pre-K 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 and is inspired by the innovation behind offering Waldorf methods in a public setting. Michele is very excited to bring her passion for the arts to her teaching and is an active part of the Mountain Phoenix community.

In addition to being a teacher, Michele has two children who attend MPCS, and a loving husband. She also enjoys reading, visiting museums, handwork, camping, and travel.

Amy Garnsey

Amy Garnsey

Classroom Teacher - Grade Five

amy.franzgarnsey@jeffco.k12.co.us

After earning her BS degree in elementary/early childhood education from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Amy served in the Peace Corps in Haiti. She then spent 13 years in public schools in Florida, teaching pre-K, ESOL, first grade, and reading.

Becoming a mother rocked her world and she was overjoyed to find in Waldorf an education that fully meets and nurtures all parts of the precious beings we are entrusted to parent and teach. She worked for 10 years as a founding parent and then teacher at Sea Star Waldorf School, completing teacher training at Antioch New England in 2012.

Seeking a Waldorf high school for their daughter, Amy and her family moved to Colorado in 2016. She is thrilled to be experiencing the four seasons and the wonderful extremes of landscape and weather, and finds joy in family time, hiking, yoga, singing, and dances of Universal peace. She visited Mountain Phoenix wondering how her varied teaching experience might come together to serve children and was grateful to find such a warm and dedicated community here. Amy is looking forward to supporting children as an Interventionist, and to working in collaboration to bring this gift of Waldorf education to so many.

Upper School

Tanner Krauth

Tanner Krauth

Classroom Teacher - Grade Six

Ada Thomas

Ada Thomas

Classroom Teacher - Grade Six

ada.thomas@jeffco.k12.co.us

Ydi Alonso

Ydi Alonso

Classroom Teacher - Grade Seven

ydi.alonso@jeffco.k12.co.us

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 - Grade Seven

eowyn.ciccone@jeffco.k12.co.us

Eowyn has served as a middle school and high school teacher and educator for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Secondary English Education from SUNY New Paltz, National Board Certification, 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. Eowyn is passionate about 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 completed her first year of Waldorf Teacher Training, in May of 2018, and looks forward to continuing her education in this area.

Joshua Anander

Joshua Anander

Classroom Teacher - Grade Eight

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 - Grade Eight

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.

Rachel Riccio

Rachel Riccio

Upper School Math Teacher - Grade Seven and Eight

rachel.riccio@jeffco.k12.co.us

Rachel is from Fair Haven, New York and currently resides in Colorado with her husband, twin 2nd grade girls and their dog, Holly. She has a BS in Elementary Education from Susquehanna University and is drawn to the Waldorf learning platform by the integration of intellectual, practical, and artist instruction that is woven through the curriculum.

When she is not teaching, Rachel loves spending time with her family and friends, hiking, painting and traveling.

Aaryn Munson-Price

Aaryn Munson-Price

Upper School Math Teacher - Grade Six

aaryn.munson-price@jeffco.k12.co.us

Special Subjects

Cecilia Alban

Cecilia Alban

Spanish Teacher - Primary School

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 fifth 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 18 countries in Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia. 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.

JoAnn Hammond

JoAnn Hammond

Handwork Teacher - Primary School

Joann.hammond@jeffco.k12.co.us

JoAnn has enjoyed working at MPCS since its beginning at the Wheat Ridge Campus. Many enjoyable years were spent in the ECE department. This will be her 4th year in the Handwork department which provides the opportunity to combine her passion for fiber arts with her enjoyment of guiding children as they learn and grow.

Valuing the developmentally appropriate and arts integrated program offered by a Waldorf approach to education, JoAnn appreciates bringing nature, stories and imaginations to lessons, the holistic approach to teaching that strives to develop every aspect of the child and is inspired by the innovation behind offering Waldorf methods in a public education setting.

JoAnn holds a BS in Communication Disorders from Colorado State University and a MA in Speech-Language Therapy from University of Denver, 1983, a Major Foundations Studies Certificate through the Center for Anthroposophy as well as an Early Childhood Accreditation Lead Teacher Certification.

Spending time with her husband, grown children and extended family, JoAnn also loves to knit, spin yarn, quilt, garden, hike, camp, snorkel and travel. She has lived in Colorado most of her life and continues to enjoy its natural splendor.

Jessica Atkinson

Jessica Atkinson

Handwork Teacher - Grades 4-8

jessica.atkinson@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jessica has been making clothes since she was 10 years old, and loves everything about the fiber arts. She has a passion for sewing, embroidery, macrame, weaving, knitting, and crochet. With a Bachelor’s in Fashion Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we are excited for Jessica to be able to share her knowledge and experience for this art form here at Mountain Phoenix.

In her spare time, you will find her making clothes as well as camping and hiking around Colorado and New Mexico.

Eliza Bethany

Eliza Bethany

Handwork Assistant

eliza.bethany@jeffco.k12.co.us

This will be her eighth year at Mountain Phoenix. Eliza received her Waldorf Teacher Certification from Antioch University and a BFA from NMSU. Prior to teaching, she worked mostly in the visual arts and very early on was a NOLS instructor. When the oldest of her two daughters was an infant, she joined a parent group that evolved into the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in Connecticut, where she was a founding board member. The influence was life-long, though Eliza and her family moved away before the grades began. Her children still managed to thrive going to public schools, with a very fortunate cast of teachers and administrators, spiced with a dash of head, heart and hand at home. Eliza loves that we combine both worlds here at Mountain Phoenix. Her happiest moments are greeting each of the children at the beginning of class, knowing the many joys and discoveries that lie ahead.

Melinda Howard

Melinda Howard

Art Teacher - Grades 4-8

melinda.howard@jeffco.k12.co.us

Melinda first became curious about Waldorf when her oldest was a baby and she was researching different pedagogies. Obviously, Waldorf was the clear winner! With a 6th grader, 3rd grader and a newborn, she has been a parent for 7 years and has loved being a part of the community. As the new Art Teacher, she is very excited for a fresh start in a supportive, collaborative environment.

Though she grew up in Michigan, Melinda has lived in Denver for the last 20 years. She has earned her Art Degree from Western Michigan University and Masters Degree in Education from University of Denver. She taught for 11 years at Columbine High School, 1 year for Cherry Creek Elevation, and most recently taught middle school art at Alameda Junior High.

Melinda enjoys hiking, camping, snowboarding, photography, knitting, and reading. She and her family also enjoy traveling and discovering new places in Colorado to explore.

Dustin Munger

Dustin Munger

Orchestra Teacher

dusty.munger@jeffco.k12.co.us

From the Western Slope, Dustin attended Colorado Mesa University where he received his BA in Music Education and Guitar Performance. When he’s not in the Orchestra Room teaching and tuning instruments (we are so grateful for this gift!), he can be found playing, hiking, camping and cooking.

Melanie Vigil

Melanie Vigil

Band Teacher

melanie.vigil@jeffco.k12.co.us

Mattie Stemper

Mattie Stemper

Games Teacher - Grades 4 - 8

Mattie.Stemper@jeffco.k12.co.us

Mattie Stemper is excited to be in her second year leading the Games department and will be teaching grades 3-8 this year. She has been working with MPCS students for five years now, from early childhood through middle school. Her goals for Games class are to develop each student's inner strength/will forces, confidence, build comradery between students, and for them to find joy in movement...while having lots of FUN!

Currently, she is starting her fifth year of a five-year training in Spacial Dynamics with Jaimen McMillan. The training includes Spacial Dynamics exercises and philosophies, Boethmer gymnastics, Pentathlon training, circus arts, archery, games, and hands-on postural alignment techniques.

Mattie grew up with a deep love for dancing. In high school she majored in dance at a performing arts school in Memphis, TN and went on to receive her bachelor's degree in dance at Columbia College in Chicago. She then moved to Gunnison, CO and taught ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, and conditioning for dancers for three years and started her own modern dance company.

Her son, Dylan, is in his fifth year at MPCS and is currently in seventh grade. In her spare time Mattie enjoys spending time with her family and two dogs, going to the mountains, hiking, soaking in hot springs, and practicing what she is learning in Spacial Dynamics.

If you have any questions, concerns, or expertise in any sport or movement activity that you would like to share with our students please contact her at extension #325 or by email at Mattie.Stemper@jeffco.k12.co.us.

Aaryn Munson-Price

Aaryn Munson-Price

Games Teacher - Grades 1 - 3

aaryn.munson-price@jeffco.k12.co.us

Lively Arts Homeschool

Lynn Pollitt

Lynn Pollitt

Homeschool Program Director

Lynn.Pollitt@jeffco.k12.co.us

From the moment Lynn came to MPCS in 2016, as a substitute teacher, she knew she was home. She feels that her nearly 50-year career of working with and for children and families has come full circle. The Waldorf philosophy and way of teaching is in alignment with everything she feels and believes about teaching.

Lynn is certified in early childhood education, has a Bachelor's degree in English and sociology from Peru State College and is certified in developmental movement through the Waldorf Movement for Childhood program. Lynn has also completed the Building Bridges Waldorf teacher program through the Center for Anthroposophy and Antioch University.

She has two grown children and three granddaughters. In her spare time she likes to travel, read, garden, and play with her two Schnauzers- Friskin and Button.

Erica Knox

Erica Knox

Homeschool Teacher - Kindergarten

erica.knox@jeffco.k12.co.us

Ann Dennehy

Ann Dennehy

Homeschool Teacher - Kindergarten

jennifer.dennehy@jeffco.k12.co.us

Erin Cathcart

Erin Cathcart

Homeschool Programs Coordinator

erin.cathcart@jeffco.k12.co.us

Solomon St. John

Solomon St. John

Homeschool Teacher - Grades 1 & 2

solomon.st.john@jeffco.k12.co.us

Lauren Infusino

Lauren Infusino

Homeschool Teacher - Grades 3 & 4

lauren.infusino@jeffco.k12.co.us

Megan Aikman

Megan Aikman

Homeschool Teacher

maikman@jeffcoschools.us

Megan came to Colorado nearly 20 years ago when she and her husband heard the siren song from the east coast. She grew up in Maine, received her B.A. in Latin and Classical Studies from Brandeis University, and later earned her masters from CU Boulder in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology. After working in museums for numerous years, her original plan to teach through exhibit programming took a different turn after the birth of her two children, both Mountain Phoenix students.

The love of fiber arts runs strong in Megan’s blood. Both grandmothers were craftswomen; one a Home Economics teacher in the 1950’s, and the other taught Ms.Aikman the nearly lost art of tatting when she was 2 years old. Megan taught herself to knit when she was 10 and hasn’t stopped since. She is adept at knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, embroidery, and hand sewing.

Megan is thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Homeschool Practical Arts program, as well as assist with the full-time grades students.

Karen Eberle-Smith

Karen Eberle-Smith

Homeschool 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.

Student Support

Jamie Pittock

Jamie Pittock

School 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.

Amanda Clayton

Amanda Clayton

School Social Worker/Psychologist

Corrina Blake

Corrina Blake

Restorative Practices Liaison

corrina.blake@jeffco.k12.co.us

Corrina has been working with children for over 23 years. She has 2 children of her own that have been attending MPCS for the last 6 years and she is entering my fourth year of working at the school. Corrina has been intrigued by Waldorf education and its values since first learning about it in 2004. She truly believes that it is important to educate our hearts and hands just as much as our minds.

As a 6th generation Coloradoan, Corrina grew up in north Denver and Arvada and loves to camp with loved ones!

“I enjoy being part of such a wonderful community and feel so fortunate to be a part of the amazing things we accomplish here.”

Jena Roach

Jena Roach

Literacy Specialist

jena.roach@jeffco.k12.co.us

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. Jena also started taking any training that was available through the district in reading/writing intervention. She eventually transferred into the Teacher Education program at Regis University. Her main goal in education has always been to learn to help her students to become better readers and writers.

I have taken multiple trainings through the school district and on my 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 dealing 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. I also took the Jefferson County training for Elementary Cognitive Coaching in 2009. A couple of years ago I was able to attend the training with Integrated Listening Systems (ILS), an auditory processing remediation tool, and was also trained in F.A.S.T., a systematic phonics-based program. I additionally trained in using Every Child a Writer, a K-12 writing program. This summer I received an additional training with Read Naturally.

I started working at Mountain Phoenix in August of 2012 as an Interventionist, the second year that the school was in Wheat Ridge. This starts my 18 year in Jefferson County and I feel very fortunate to have found such an interesting place to work.

Mary Taylor

Mary Taylor

SPED Learning Specialist - Kindergarten & Primary School

mary.taylor@jeffco.k12.co.us

Mary started her teaching career at a Waldorf preschool in Boulder in 1995 and came full circle to find her home at Mountain Phoenix in the fall of 2021. Having taught special education in Jeffco for 19 years, she was thrilled to find a school that focuses on supporting the whole child and celebrating differences.

Growing up in Virginia, Mary’s first degree was IT Management at James Madison University. After traveling around the world with her sister from ‘91-’93 and volunteering to teach in Nepal, she returned with a passion for educating children. She earned her teaching degree at Metro State in Denver and found her soul’s path in helping students grow academically and emotionally, as well.

When she’s not working, Mary loves spending time with her family, hiking, skiing, meditating, dancing, and traveling. Any time in nature, especially near water, and viewing wildlife is blissful!

Gardner DesRoberts

Gardner DesRoberts

SPED Learning Specialist - Upper School

Danielle Small

Danielle Small

Speech Language Pathologist

danielle.small@jeffco.k12.co.us

Danielle was drawn to Mountain Phoenix with an appreciation for the focus the school has on meeting students where they are and encouraging their personal growth within a supportive and collaborative community. This feeds into her passion for her work as a Speech Pathologist as she enjoys seeing a student progress and watching their confidence soar throughout the school year!

Danielle loves spending time with her family, whether it's hiking, fishing or swimming. She and her husband have been married for 13 years and share two children, ages 5 and 2.5, and two young dogs! With 4 little ones in the house, it is always noisy, but they wouldn't have it any other way!

Sydney Chandler

Sydney Chandler

Speech Language Pathologist Assistant

Leigh Jardine

Leigh Jardine

Learning Specialist - Primary School

Leigh first discovered and fell in love with Waldorf education when her youngest daughter was three. At the time, she worked as a graphic designer but knew she needed a career change. A series of life events that year led her to enroll in the Waldorf Teacher Training program in Eugene, Oregon. Three years later, Leigh received her Waldorf ECE certificate and she and her daughters moved to a small town in Wisconsin where she worked as an assistant in the Waldorf school’s kindergarten and ran a process art studio, offering classes and workshops for the community.

Leigh has received a Bachelor of Science degree in Individualized Studies, with a minor in English Rhetoric and Professional Writing and worked as a Literacy Tutor for Colorado Reading Corps (an AmeriCorps service position). From there, she chose to dedicate the remainder of her work life to supporting students with special needs. She recently graduated from University of Colorado Denver with a Masters degree in Teaching Special Education, and an Elementary endorsement.

Leigh is excited about the dovetailing of Waldorf Public Education within Jeffco public schools, the best of both worlds, where she brings her warmth, enthusiasm, open heart and curiosity with her to school every day.

When she is not teaching, Leigh enjoys spending time with her beautiful grown daughters and their partners, cooking, singing and listening to music, reading and spending time in Nature. She is a lifelong learner, ever curious about the incredible universe that surrounds us.

Wendy Ray

Wendy Ray

Math Specialist

wendy.ray@jeffco.k12.co.us

Wendy was looking for a Waldorf school for her young daughter and was thrilled when MPCS opened shortly before her daughter’s first grade year. Wendy volunteered weekly in her daughter’s classroom, and eventually was hired as a classroom assistant. This job evolved into Wendy’s dream job as a math support/math interventionist for Mountain Phoenix. Wendy is passionate about showing every student that math is accessible, doable and can even be interesting and fun. Wendy loves the creative aspect of allowing children to see that there are often many paths to finding the solution to problems. She aims to teach children to believe in themselves and that a little bit of persistence goes a long way.

Wendy loves reading on her sunny porch, cooking healthy food, taking walks and slow runs and is learning to play pickleball. On the top of the list, however, is traveling and spending time with her high school daughter.

Erinn Oliver

Erinn Oliver

Math/Literacy Interventionist

erinn.oliver@jeffco.k12.co.us

Erinn has spent 2/3 of her life working with children. She started as a volunteer at the YMCA in the nursery and teaching swimming lessons. At 14, she was put on payroll, and worked there for over 10 years. After high school, she pursued her teaching degree, while continuing as the Nursery Supervisor at the Y. She earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis in Elementary Education, and spent the next 7 years working in various educational roles including ECE, SPED, and K-5classroom teacher throughout Jeffco.

In doing some additional Early Childhood coursework, Erinn learned about Waldorf, and fell in love, primarily due to the arts integration, and the whole-child approach to education. From there, she dove into learning about as much as she could about Rudolf Steiner’s teachings. She then went on to become a mama, and was blessed with 10 glorious years at home with her babes. As they neared school age, she felt even more enamored with the Waldorf approach, especially as she considered education from a mama’s point of view! She found Mountain Phoenix, and enrolled her children in the homeschool program, where her young twin daughters loved it so much they said “they wanted to go every day… not just Fridays!” She continues to feel so grateful to be integrated in the Mountain Phoenix learning community, as both a staff member, and proud parent of 3 daughters, who attend the lower grades.

Erinn loves teaching because of the connection and rapport she is able to build with children. She feels that kids offer such a different perspective, and see everything through such a magical lens of wonder and simplicity. The opportunity to connect with and support children in their growth and learning is an investment that she feels is paid in spades daily. When Erinn isn’t at work, you can find her soaking up time and sunshine with her “girlsquad”- daughters who are 10,10, and 6. As a Colorado native, she also enjoys good food, craft beer, reading, live music, hiking, and adventuring.

Hope Abens

Hope Abens

Math/Literacy Interventionist

hope.abens@jeffco.k12.co.us

Hope is thrilled to be a part of the thriving community at MPCS. Originally from Sheridan, Wyoming, she received her BA in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education from the University of Wyoming and a MA in Culturally Linguistic Diverse Education from the University of Colorado Denver. She now resides in Arvada, with both children attending Mountain Phoenix. Hope was drawn to MPCS for herself and her family by the whole child approach to education through the Waldorf philosophy. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, meditating, scuba diving, dancing, and healthy living.

Caroline Rose

Caroline Rose

Occupational Therapist

caroline.rose@jeffco.k12.co.us

Anna Leighton

Anna Leighton

Therapeutic Support Teacher

anna.leighton@jeffco.k12.co.us

As a Waldorf graduate herself, Anna feels that Waldorf education has enriched her life in so many ways and wants to be a part of creating the Waldorf experience for the children at MPCS. With a BS in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado and a MS in Therapeutic Education from Sunbridge College in NY, she began her career in Waldorf education in 2009 and continues to learn and be inspired by the students.

Anna has 2 children at Mountain Phoenix and are all excited to be part of such a wonderful community.

Sam Perez

Sam Perez

Student Support Teacher - Upper School

sam.perez@jeffco.k12.co.us

Sam joins the Mountain Phoenix community from San Antonio, Texas. His undergraduate degree is in multidisciplinary studies, concentrating on business, psychology, and communication. He is applying for a master’s degree in literacy education from the University
of Colorado in Denver.

Prior to his teaching career, Sam held a variety of positions. These include; the manager of a baseball complex, the lead counselor for a K-6 summer camp, the head of the after-school department, and most recently, the manager of his family’s coffee shop back in Texas. Sam first heard about MPCS from his uncle, also an employee at Mountain Phoenix. After a 3-week stint in December 2020, Sam was invited to return for the 2021 spring semester as an In-House Guest Teacher. He has since signed on as the Upper School Student Support Teacher for Mathematics. Sam also manages the 8th grade Team Sports elective, and 8th grade after-school math support.

In his free time, Sam enjoys playing softball and golf, reading, and white-water rafting. He also enjoys playing video games online with his friends in other states. Sam’s parents and youngest brother live in San Antonio. They visit Colorado frequently, since it is now home to over half of the extended family. Sam’s second youngest brother is a senior at the University of Denver.

For major inspiration, Sam looks to the mountains. For daily inspiration, he looks to his
colleagues. The Mountain Phoenix community has taught Sam all he knows about Waldorf
education, and he appreciates that. Since starting at MPCS, Sam has learned finger knitting, remembered the joy of singing, and begun his own vegetable garden at home. He is grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team.

Nicole Rohnke

Nicole Rohnke

504 Coordinator/GT Liason

nicole.rohnke@jeffco.k12.co.us

Liz Hartman

Liz Hartman

Primary School Curriculum Support Coordinator

elizabeth.hartman@jeffco.k12.co.us

Although she's a fourth generation Coloradan, Liz moved to Eugene, OR after graduating from Colorado State with a degree in biology. The Waldorf Teacher Training was a profound experience, and she loved the Pacific Northwest so much that she decided to stay. After teaching Grade 1-3 at Corvallis Waldorf School and finishing up a full cycle at Eugene Waldorf School for Grades 4-8, she spent the next eight years as a stay-at-home mom to her three daughters, who all now attend Mountain Phoenix. The family moved back to Colorado to be closer to all the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Right as her youngest child was old enough to start full day preschool, the Curriculum Support Coordinator position at MPCS was created. Liz was thrilled when she got the position since she gets to combine her love of Waldorf pedagogy with supporting teachers. She continues to maintain that it's the best job ever.

When she's not at work, Liz enjoys cooking, baking, knitting, painting, reading, and gardening when she's at home and loves running and hiking out in nature. Happily, her children love the same things so her house is always a very busy place!