Faculty Bios


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Seedlings

Susan Skokan

Susan Skokan

Seedlings Lead Teacher

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.

Education
LiveWays early childhood teacher certification - May 2014
Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy - May 2016
Currently in Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Training - Graduation July 2019
Early Childhood Teacher certification - May 2008
MSU Fine Art Major – emphasis Photography, second emphasis English Writing
WECAN Continuing Teacher Education with Nancy Blanning and others - countless hours

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

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.

Currently Susan is in her 3rd year of teaching home school kindergarten and parent & child classes and adores both of these dynamic programs. Festivals and connections with families are the highlights of the years!

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.

Ashley Mendoza

Ashley Mendoza

Buttercups Classroom - Assistant, Preschool

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 is currently in the Sound Circle II training for her Waldorf Certificate in Early Childhood. With time permitting, Ashley plans to open up her own Waldorf-inspired, in-home daycare.

When not at work, Ashley spends her free time listening to music, going to concerts, watching movies, crochet, hiking, working out, traveling, sight see and visit what beautiful adventures Colorado has to offer.

Ashley is always excited for a new school year and happy to be back in preschool assisting in the Buttercups. Ashley also feels blessed and appreciative for having the opportunity being the ECE Licensing Director. She loves working with the wee little ones and watching them grow.

Joy Wegs

Joy Wegs

Sweet Pea Classroom - Lead Teacher, Preschool

joy.wegs@jeffco.k12.co.us

“Auntie Joy” is the Lead Teacher in the Sweet Peas classroom, and an integral part of MPCS's Early Childhood Leadership Team. Auntie Joy has been here since MPCS arrived on this campus. She brings her ALL to her classroom, her Administration role 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 - at Lakewood High School and Ember who is in 5th grade at Mountain Phoenix), a wife, and a yoga instructor. She holds a BA in Outdoor Recreation and Leadership, and a two-year degree in Early Childhood Education. 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. She also holds her Waldorf Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from Sound Circle.

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 and thriving 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 - Assistant, Preschool

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

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. 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.

Jennifer Dennehey

Jennifer Dennehey

Dandelions - Assistant, Preschool

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Melinda Howard

Melinda Howard

PreK Float

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Elizabeth McCune

Elizabeth McCune

Bluebird Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

elizabeth.mccune@jeffco.k12.co.us

Ms. Liz is excited to be the teacher of the Bluebirds 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.

Shana Robertson

Shana Robertson

Bluebird Classroom - Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Alex Esarey

Alex Esarey

Sunflowers Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

alexandra.esarey@jeffco.k12.co.us

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 attended the West Coast Institute of Anthroposophy in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, and completed 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!

Erica Knox

Erica Knox

Sunflowers Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Melissa Windram

Melissa Windram

Honey Bees Classrooms - 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 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!

Tatyana Hope

Tatyana Hope

Honey Bees Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Bettina Huber

Bettina Huber

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

KG Float 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 cooking and learning about the health, environmental, and ethical benefits of plant-based cuisine. She has been a volunteer mentor with "Vegan Outreach" for three years, assisting people to transition to a vegan lifestyle. Additionally, she is a volunteer with the non-profit organization "Sea Shepherd", as she is passionate about sea life and ocean conservation.

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.

Ms. Lindsay

Ms. Lindsay

Chickadees Classroom - Lead Teacher, Kindergarten

Photo and bio coming soon.

Leah Hickler

Leah Hickler

Chickadees Classroom - Assistant, Kindergarten

Leah was born and raised in Durango, Colorado. Denver has been her home since she met and married her love in 2000. They now have 3 children Colton, Caelee, and Cora and two Maltese doggies. Their family loves crafty indoor activities and being outside as much as possible hiking, swimming, walking, running, biking, climbing, paddle boarding, yoga, snowboarding, and gardening. They choose a whole food plant-based lifestyle and use sustainable practices whenever possible because we love animals, our environment, and our earth. They have been at Mountain Phoenix since the beginning and have seen it get better and better over the years. She loves Mountain Phoenix and has been a very active volunteer before becoming an assistant teacher last year.

Elementary School

Bethany Lightfoot

Bethany Lightfoot

Classroom Teacher - 1st Grade

bethany.lightfoot@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 - First Grade

kathryn.gigantiello@jeffco.k12.co.us

Michele Ford-Kuntz

Michele Ford-Kuntz

Classroom Teacher - Second Grade

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.

Christa Valdez

Christa Valdez

Classroom Teacher - Second Grade

christa.valdez@jeffco.k12.co.us

Christa Valdez is a native of northern New Mexico and moved to Denver in 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Prescott College and completed her Waldorf Certification through Antioch University New England with an emphasis on early childhood and elementary education. Additionally, Christa went on to complete a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on teacher leadership through Concordia University. She currently holds a Colorado State Initial Teacher License. Christa began her Waldorf teaching career in 2010 and has gained experience teaching in both private and public Waldorf schools, having worked most recently as a class teacher at the Denver Waldorf School. Her favorite aspect of being a Waldorf teacher is that every school day the teachers and students are co-creating an inspiring and enriching learning experience together

Eric Ebert

Eric Ebert

Classroom Teacher - Third 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 - Third Grade

michelle.hollandsworth@jeffco.k12.co.us

Michelle came to Waldorf education after teaching 11 years in public schools. She felt committed to teaching at a charter school that offered public Waldorf education to a diverse group of children. In order to fulfill this mission, she continued her education and added to her previous degrees, in civil engineering and library science, a Waldorf teaching certificate from Rudolf Steiner College. Now she is enjoying her second journey through grades 1-5 with her class.

Michelle embraces the idea that Waldorf teachers are invited and required to be lifelong learners. The Waldorf curriculum gives her new learning opportunities each year as she moves up through the grades with her class. She enjoys challenging herself to discover and expand who she is as a person. Over the years she has seen her work transform from one of teaching to that of healing and inspiring children by seeking first to understand, and then to be understood.

Michelle is happily married and has two amazing adult children. She likes reading good books in a hammock, exercising at sunrise by practicing yoga or bicycling, and growing delicious vegetables in her garden. A deep respect for the earth and a strong connection with nature often take her to peaceful woods near a beautiful stream to relax and rejuvenate on the weekend.

Alissa Minatta

Alissa Minatta

Classroom Teacher - Fourth 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 has completed her Waldorf Teacher Certification program and is eager to continue learning alongside the students each year.

Cara Olivenza

Cara Olivenza

Classroom Teacher - Fourth 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 - Fifth Grade

eliza.bethany@jeffco.k12.co.us

I have been here with my fifth-grade class since their first, after being a third grade assistant at Shining Mountain in Boulder. I have Waldorf Teacher Certification from Antioch University and a BFA from NMSU. Prior to teaching I worked mostly in the visual arts and very early on was a NOLS instructor. When the oldest of my two daughters was an infant I joined a parent group that evolved into the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in Connecticut, where I was a founding board member. The influence was life-long though we moved away before the grades began. My children still managed to thrive going to public schools, with a very fortunate cast of inspired teachers and administrators. I love that Mountain Phoenix is both a public and a Waldorf based school. Our mission blends together all of my strongest interests, including a deep commitment to addressing the great challenges of our times. Enabling our children to take this further with a sense of individual purpose and reverence as adults is our primary task. My happiest moments are greeting each of them at the door in the morning, knowing the many activities and discoveries that lie ahead.

Olivia Filion

Olivia Filion

Classroom Teacher - 5th Grade

olivia.filion@jeffco.k12.co.us

Photo and bio coming soon.

Middle School

Alma Tisher

Alma Tisher

Classroom Teacher - 6th Grade

alma.tisher@jeffco.k12.co.us

Photo and bio coming soon.

Ada Thomas

Ada Thomas

Classroom Teacher - Sixth Grade

ada.thomas@jeffco.k12.co.us

Eowyn Ciccone

Eowyn Ciccone

Classroom Teacher - Seventh 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, 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.


Ydi Alonso

Ydi Alonso

Classroom Teacher - Seventh Grade

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.

Joshua Anander

Joshua Anander

Classroom Teacher - Eighth Grade

joshua.anander@jeffco.k12.co.us

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

Brian Williams

Brian Williams

Classroom Teacher - Eighth Grade

brian.williams@jeffco.k12.co.us

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

Specials

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.

Danneyl Gorbold

Danneyl Gorbold

Spanish Teacher

Photo and bio coming soon.

Wendy Ray

Wendy Ray

Elementary Math Interventionist

wendy.ray@jeffco.k12.co.us

Wendy has been interested in Waldorf education since living on a farm in Pennsylvania with graduate students who were studying biodynamic farming. Later, as a parent to a Waldorf kindergartener, she continued learning about anthroposophy in a Steiner study group in the home of her daughter’s teacher, Lois Hartman. Wendy’s diverse background includes a Master’s degree in Applied Anthropology, six years working as a postpartum doula (specializing in multiples) and spiritual counseling. Most recently, Wendy worked as a first and second grade classroom assistant at Mountain Phoenix. She loved providing support to the teacher and the students, but particularly found that she loved working closely with individuals providing academic support.

Wendy is very passionate about the idea that anyone can do math and that we can all do hard things, even if there is a bit of struggle involved. This is how we grow! She loves helping children look at math from many different points of view until together they find an angle where it begins to make sense. She looks forward to making math fun and growing alongside her students.

When not in the classroom, Wendy enjoys being the parent of a MPCS eighth grade daughter, cooking and learning new recipes, meeting friends for coffee, reading and taking walks.

Kim Bishop

Kim Bishop

Elementary Math Interventionist/ESL Teacher

kim.bishop@jeffco.k12.co.us

Kim Bishop was born in Denver, and has been teaching since 2000. She has a BA in Psychology and Elementary Education and a Master´s degree in ESL & Bilingual Education from the University of Colorado Boulder. She lived abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica and Guadalajara, Mexico for more than 5 years. She has been working for the past 7 years at Mountain Phoenix in various roles, and is very excited to be doing Elementary Math intervention, Spanish homeschool classes, ESL teaching, and helping out wherever needed. Kim loves salsa dancing, babies and kids, and travel. There is no place she would rather be than Mountain Phoenix, except maybe a tropical beach.

Samantha Chung-Yew

Samantha Chung-Yew

Middle School Math Specialist

samantha.hampton@jeffco.k12.co.us

This is my 6th year of teaching middle school math and my 9th year in education. I grew up in what is now known as the highlands of Denver with my mother and my three siblings. I went out of state to Rutgers University of New Jersey for college to gain some experience of being on my own and gain new perspectives. When I returned to Denver, I immediately began working in schools and loved it so much that I pursued teaching full time. I just recently got married this summer and my family now consists of myself, my husband Jean-Paul, and my two dogs.

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!

Megan Aikman

Megan Aikman

Handwork Assistant and Homeschool Handwork Teacher

Michelle TheoHarris

Michelle TheoHarris

Handwork Assistant

Jo Ann Hammond

Jo Ann Hammond

Handwork Assistant

In 2018, Jo Ann will be changing her assistant hat (or shall we say apron). She will be moving from the ECE department to the Handwork team. Jo Ann is excited for this new opportunity to combine her passion for fiber arts with her enjoyment of guiding children as they learn and grow. She’ll miss the seeing the little ones every day, but is looking forward to working with the older children as they expand their knowledge and skills.

Jo Ann holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University as well as a Master of Arts degree in Speech and Language therapy from the University of Denver. For many years, Jo Ann provided speech and language therapy services in bot h public school and private clinic settings. Several years ago she added the ECE accreditation and taught in public and private preschool programs. She even taught on this property back when it was Foothills Academy.

Her history with Waldorf education began when MPCS moved to this campus. She discovered a wonderful teaching philosophy and loving community that fit into her own pedagogy. She has attended several WECAN conferences and other continuing education opportunities over the years since. Jo Ann completed the Foundation Studies through the Center for Anthroposophy, in 2016.

When not at work, Jo Ann can be found spending time with her loving husband, her adult children and all of their pets. She enjoys bicycling, camping, gardening, handwork, reading, art, music and travel.

Lynn Pollitt

Lynn Pollitt

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 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.

Eve Panning

Eve Panning

Orchestra Teacher

eve.panning@jeffco.k12.co.us

Eve Panning is an accomplished musician and educator with a passion for various styles of music. Eve began taking violin and piano lessons at the String Academy at Indiana University when she was just six years old. She was also exposed to a rich culture of traditional folk music that was an integral part of life in the small town she lived in with her family. Social gatherings revolved around music, from potluck get-togethers to the Tuesday night jam session in the Walmart produce department. These gatherings allowed Eve to experience the joy and community created by music, as well as develop a repertoire of fiddle tunes. This community of music provided a springboard for the Panning Family Band -also known as FiddleFire- that became a large part of Eve's life. Performances included the National Fiddle Contest in Weiser, ID, appearances as guest artists with the Grand Rapid's Symphony, and opening for Cris Cagle and Depue Brothers' concerts. The family also performed as the headline band at contradance weekends throughout the midwest.

Eve continued to be active in the classical world. During college, Eve studied classically with Mihai Craioveanu at Hope College in Holland, MI. During this time she had numerous performance opportunities, including solo performances with the Hope College orchestra, performing in showcase concerts, presenting recitals, and even performing at a TEDx event. She also performed as a section violinist with the Holland Symphony, where she was a featured soloist after winning their concerto competition. While in college, Eve studied music education as well as violin performance. As she observed, taught, and traveled with student groups, Eve developed a passion for helping young musicians interact with multiple genres.

Immediately upon graduating, Eve underwent an extensive audition process and was selected as a member of Barrage 8, a choreographed, high energy string troupe. With Barrage 8, Eve completed tours of Europe, the United States, and Canada, and recorded an album with the group at a live-in studio in London, Ontario. Along with opportunities for performing and recording, work with Barrage 8 continued to fuel Eve's passion for education. She served as a Courtesy Faculty Member and Artist in Residence at Florida Gulf Coast University, and led clinics in string programs across the United States. Most recently, Eve travelled to China with the Hollywood Film Music Orchestra to perform at a film festival in Nanjing.

In her spare time, Eve enjoys horseback riding, reading, hiking, and camping. She has spent multiple summers working on a guest ranch in Wyoming, where she developed and implemented a Kids' Program, provided musical entertainment in the evenings, and had as many adventures as possible. She is excited to explore Colorado and be a part of the Mountain Phoenix Community.

Melanie Vigil

Melanie Vigil

Band Teacher

melanie.vigil@jeffco.k12.co.us

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 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

Photo and bio coming soon.

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.

Amy Bremenstuhl

Amy Bremenstuhl

Special Education Teacher

amy.bremenstuhl@jeffco.k12.co.us

Jena Roach

Jena Roach

Interventionist

jena.roach@jeffco.k12.co.us

I started working in Jefferson County school district in December of 2002 as an elementary assistant. I 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. I also started taking any training that was available through the district in reading/writing intervention. I eventually transferred into the Teacher Education program at Regis University. My main goal in education has always been to learn to help my 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.

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