Faculty Bios


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Seedlings

Susan Skokan

Susan Skokan

Seedlings Lead Teacher

auntiesusanmpcs@gmail.com

Susan has been involved in the Mountain Phoenix Community since the summer of 2011. She has taught preschool, kindergarten, ECE and Grades before and after care as well as run a toddler program on campus. She has worked with children full time since 2007. After two years successfully running her own licensed, mixed-age home preschool; she was thrilled to return to Mountain Phoenix in 2014. Currently she is the school’s Parent & Toddler teacher and Lead Home school Kindergarten teacher.

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 attended countless hours of teacher in-service training facilitated by Nancy Blanning. She completed Waldorf Foundations training through the Center for Anthroposophy in 2016. 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 enjoyed volunteering in one of the 3rd grade handwork classes and is working on becoming better friends with knitting and crochet. She is inspired by these rhythmic yet dynamic days.

Over the summers of 2015 and 16 she has been a lead teacher at Denver Waldorf’s summer camp, building connections and friendships between our schools.


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! As the years pass, 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

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. She is currently working on obtaining her Waldorf Teacher Certification at Sophia’s Hearth in Keene New Hampshire. She will be studying the child and family in the first three years - the foundation of the early childhood teacher’s work.

Robin is also a mama to a three year old at who will be starting preschool at MPCS this year. 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.

Asha Chandra

Asha Chandra

Buttercups Classroom - Classroom Assistant

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!

Sarah Jackson

Sarah Jackson

Sweet Peas Classroom - Classroom Assistant

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

Mountain Dandelions - 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. In addition to being close to complete with her Waldorf Teacher Training, she has 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 third grade and the other first grade.

Christine Swann

Christine Swann

Mountain Dandelions - Classroom Assistant

Ms. Christine holds a BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland. She first learned about Waldorf Education there and immediately knew that she wanted to pursue it further. Upon graduating, she began working as a kindergarten assistant at a Waldorf public charter school in Portland, OR during its inaugural year.

After spending 8 years at home raising her own two daughters, Christine returned to the classroom here at MPCS to share the beauty and rhythm of Waldorf education with more young children. This will be Ms. Christine’s second year assisting in the Dandelions preschool classroom. In her free time, 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 Sunflower Class at Mountain Phoenix Community School. 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.

Jo Ann Hammond

Jo Ann Hammond

Sunflower Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarden

Jo Ann (Auntie Jo Ann) is very excited to be embarking on her seventh year as part of the Mountain Phoenix Community and the Early Childhood Education team. She has been a classroom assistant for three of those years, a substitute lead teacher for one and now a classroom assistant again. 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. For several years, Jo Ann provided speech and language therapy services in both public and private settings. She has completed the Foundations Study program through the Center for Anthroposophy, as well as several Waldorf continuing education programs. Jo Ann enjoys the rhythm, beauty and “magic” of Waldorf education. It’s exciting to watch children learn and flourish through the whole child focus of the Waldorf curriculum.

Jo Ann is married and has two grown children. In her spare time she loves enjoying and exploring nature with her family and all of their pets.

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 is attending the West Coast Institute of Anthroposophy in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, working towards gaining her AWSNA, WECAN, and IASWECE (International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education) recognized Waldorf Early Childhood Certificate. Additionally, she attends the monthly WECAN study group in the Denver area. 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

Honey Bees Classrooms - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

missmelissamorningglories@gmail.com

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 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!

Bettina Huber

Bettina Huber

bettina.huber@jeffco.k12.co.us

Honey Bees Classroom - Assistant, 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 Honeybees this year!

Kathy Peters

Kathy Peters

Honey Bees 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

Chickadess Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

msandreaskindergarten@gmail.com

Ms. Andrea is thrilled to be the lead teacher in the Chickadess 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. Then Ms. Andrea was an assistant at MPCS 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 Chickadees.

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.

Laura Powderly

Laura Powderly

Chickadees Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

Laura (Miss Laura), has been a part of the Mountain Phoenix community for the past six years. Her children are both thriving students in the 3rd and 6th grades. Waldorf education was new to her upon her children entering the school, but has become a way of moving in the world for her family. Through volunteering, participating in festivals, and seeing her children grow in this wonderful community, she is thrilled to be a part of the everyday rhythms in the Chickadee classroom with Ms. Andrea.

Staying at home with her children for past years has prepared her for the roll of nurturing assistant. She loves the meaningful work and the satisfaction that it brings. Originally hailing from Mansfield, Texas, Laura has lived in Colorado for the past 18 years. She studied at The University of Oklahoma in Visual Communications and has a deep love of the arts. For the past 3 years she has worked independently as a personal trainer and is grateful for the opportunity to bring her energy and focus to the children.

Laura is married and enjoys hiking, skiing, camping, and exploring the natural world with her family and dog.

Elementary School

Eric Ebert

Eric Ebert

Classroom Teacher - First 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.

Michelle Hollandsworth

Michelle Hollandsworth

Classroom Teacher - First 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.

Alissa Minatta

Alissa Minatta

Classroom Teacher - Second 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.

Cara Olivenza

Cara Olivenza

Classroom Teacher - Second 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.

Eliza Bethany

Eliza Bethany

Classroom Teacher - Third 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 - Third 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.

Bethany Dilda

Bethany Dilda

Classroom Teacher - Fourth 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. She is happy to be back in the Mountain Phoenix Community and excited to continue exploring, learning, and growing with her students.

Kathryn Gigantiello

Kathryn Gigantiello

Classroom Teacher - Fourth Grade

Kathryn.Gigantiello@jeffco.k12.co.us

Bio and picture coming soon.

Lauren Koutavas

Lauren Koutavas

Classroom Teacher - Fifth 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!

Ashley Tieman

Ashley Tieman

Classroom Teacher - Fifth Grade

ashley.tieman@jeffco.k12.co.us

Ashley is a recent Colorado transplant, born and raised outside of Cincinnati, OH, with teaching experience in Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado.  She comes to the classroom with great passion for education and a drive to instill a love for learning in all students. 

In her spare time she enjoys hiking, singing and dancing, landscape photography, and loving on her two Great Danes – Charlie and Bailey.  Ashley is going into her 5th year of service in education having previously been an ESL coordinator and teacher for grades K-12 (as well as adult learners), a READ Act teacher for grades K-3, as well as a math and science teacher for 6th grade.  She possesses a BA in English Literature from Wright State University and an MA in TESOL and Sociolinguistics from Old Dominion University. 

Ashley comes to Waldorf education after sensing a disparity between the methodology being used in schools and the growth in individual children.  She looks forward to meeting each student at their level and addressing education to the individual growth and needs of the child.  Ashley will begin Waldorf teacher training this year and is grateful and excited to be a part of the Mountain Phoenix community!

Middle School

Joshua Anander

Joshua Anander

Classroom Teacher - Sixth 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 - Sixth 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.

C.J. Hawk

C.J. Hawk

Classroom Teacher - Seventh 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.

ElizaBeth Wildemaan

ElizaBeth Wildemaan

Classroom Teacher - Seventh Grade

Elizabeth.Wildemaan@jeffco.k12.co.us

ElizaBeth Wildemaan earned a bachelor's in elementary education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1993, Waldorf certification from Antioch New England Graduate School in 2001, and a masters in organizational psychology from the University of the Rockies in 2013. She has been a Waldorf teacher for 13 years, and has 3 years of administrative experience in Waldorf charter schools.

ElizaBeth has two grown sons. She enjoys knitting, watercolor painting, gardening, and reading, mostly fiction of dubious literary merit.

Picture coming soon!

Ydi Alonso

Ydi Alonso

Classroom Teacher - Eighth 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 - Eighth Grade

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, 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. 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 is also pursuing her Waldorf Teacher certification through the Center of Anthroposophy and Antioch University New England in New Hampshire

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 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.

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.

Lynn Pollitt

Lynn Pollitt

Games Teacher and Homeschool Program Coordinator

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, has a Bachelor's degree in English and sociology from Peru State College and completed training in developmental movement through the Waldorf Movement for Childhood. Lynn is currently enrolled in Building Bridges program for Waldorf teacher education 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.

Miriam Bijkerk

Miriam Bijkerk

Orchestra Teacher

miriam.bijkerk@jeffco.k12.co.us

Miriam was born in The Netherlands. When she was 10 years old, she moved to Germany. In both countries, she attended Waldorf Schools.

She earned her Bachelor of Music from the Rotterdam Conservatory (major: classical double bass) and Masters in Arts Administration from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. After finishing her degrees, she worked as performing musician, music teacher, administrator in the arts sector and as management consultant.

In 2011 it was time for a change and she moved with her husband and almost two children to the US. She spent the first few years in Boulder, earning her Masters in Music performance from CU Boulder. Besides teaching at MPCS, Miriam currently plays double bass with two professional orchestras: the Boulder Chamber Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra.

Melanie Vigil

Melanie Vigil

Band Teacher

melanie.vigil@jeffco.k12.co.us

Bio and photo coming soon.

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.

Mattie Stemper

Mattie Stemper

Games Lead

Mattie.Stemper@jeffco.k12.co.us

Mattie Stemper is the newest member of the Games Department, but not new to
Mountain Phoenix Community School (MPCS). She has been working with MPCS students from early childhood through middle school over the past three years. She will now lead the Games department and will be teaching grades 4-8.

Currently, she is completing her third 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.

With her extensive training and experience, she plans to introduce a circus arts program, folk and social dancing, gymnastics, Boethmer exercises, lots of new games, mindfulness techniques, team building activities, and yoga.

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 fourth year at MPCS and is currently in sixth 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 listed above.

Jessica Wolf

Jessica Wolf

Middle School Math Program Coordinator

jessica.wolf@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jessica holds a bachelor degree in Mathematics and Studio Art, as well as a Masters in Secondary Math Education.

Having moved to Colorado from her home state of New York just this summer with her husband and dog, Jessica could not be more excited to join the MPCS team and dive into the CO lifestyle! Jessica brings seven years of experience working with Middle school students, and a passion for teaching mathematics through discovery, hands-on learning, and games! When not teaching, Jessica loves trying new restaurants, paddle boarding, and bookbinding!

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.

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.

Amy Garnsey

Amy Garnsey

Interventionist

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.

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.

Neve Siegfreid

Neve Siegfreid

Occupational Therapist

nsiegfre@jeffco.k12.co.us

Ms. Neve joined MPCS in the 2017-18 school year. She received her master’s degree in Applied Science with a specialty in Occupational Therapy in 2003 from Colorado State University. Neve has over ten years of experience as an occupational therapist working in pediatric home health serving children birth to twelve. Prior to becoming an occupational therapist Neve worked in human resources in training and development.

In her spare time Neve enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

Melissa Kacel

Melissa Kacel

Student Support Coordinator

melissa.kacel@jeffco.k12.co.us

Bio coming soon.