Kindergarten

GINA NICOLETTA-BUDLER
KINDERGARTEN TEACHER – MARIGOLD KINDERGARTEN

Gina is always happy to welcome new families to Mountain Song and has been with the school since it opened its doors in 2013.

In the early part of her marriage to her husband Michael; she traveled the country working on numerous organic farms where she learned how to grow food, care for animals and live in community.

Gina is a trained art teacher for students K-12 and is currently enrolled in the Nurturing the Roots program which focuses on therapeutic work with young children.

When not in the classroom Gina enjoys time with her family, hiking, gardening and soaking up the Colorado sunshine.

STACIE WARREN
KINDERGARTEN TEACHER – SUNFLOWER KINDERGARTEN

Greetings, beautiful Mountain Song community! I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow with you and your children! It is with great joy that I look forward to each day immersed in the nurturing environment that Waldorf philosophy emanates.

Colorado Springs has been my home since 1988. It is here that I have raised a family of three daughters, ages 22, 19, and 9. I started college in 1993 and have been attending in one form or another ever since. My interests are broad, and I love to learn. As a result, I have a very diverse educational background from computer information systems to chemistry to health and wellness, but my primary emphasis has always remained in teaching, specifically early childhood. I find such joy and enlightenment in how each child embraces his or her world with such totality of emotion and enthusiasm.

Although my path primarily consists of teaching special education preschool through 3 rd grade in a public school setting, I believe all I have experienced and learned has led me to seek a more holistic approach to teaching. As such, learning Waldorf principles has been more of a “coming home” sensation rather than simply learning a new teaching style. It has been a significant and welcomed lifestyle change for me and my family.

Away from school, my interests include spending time with my daughters, working on our 115-year- old cottage in Cheyenne Canyon, practicing yoga, hiking, camping, cooking, and reading. I am also learning to play guitar and learning more about organic gardening.

Thank you for welcoming me into the Mountain Song community!

JENNIFER GRIMMETT
KINDERGARTEN TEACHER – DAFFODIL KINDERGARTEN
Elaine Mayberry_KindergartenAssistant
ELANIE MAYBERRY
KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT
Katie_Carrillo_KinderAssistant
KATIE CARILLO
KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT
Laura_Rocca_KindergartenAssistant
LAURA ROCCA
KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT
MYRRHREN MALONE
KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT
JENNIFER qUILON
KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

Class Teachers

AMY SIEBERT
1ST GRADE TEACHER
SARA FELDMAN
1ST GRADE TEACHER
ELLIE ARZATE
2ND GRADE TEACHER
JOAN DONATI
2ND GRADE TEACHER

KATHRINE SMITH
3RD GRADE TEACHER

I grew up in a small Kansas town. I am the oldest of four children – a younger brother and two younger sisters, which put me in the unique position of learning how to care for small human beings from a very young age. Those years of being a big sister helped me learn patience, forced me to develop a sense of humor, and taught me empathy.

My parents introduced me early to stories and books. My father made up outrageous tales, while my mother would read and re-read picture books until I’m certain she could recite them verbatim  Much of my childhood was spent in the local library where I enjoyed many an hour searching for the best books, devouring stories, and daydreaming about the adventures I had just experienced. That love of stories and literature has remained with me my entire life, and I feel so fortunate to be able to share that passion with my students

I have been married for more than 20 years to Jason, who works in legal publishing. We have two children, Madeline and Claire, along with a lazy tabby cat named Hazel. In my free time I am a voracious reader, enjoy crocheting, daydreaming, and spending time with my family.

EVA MANZ-JACKSON
4TH GRADE TEACHER

DEBBIE ELLINGTON
5TH GRADE TEACHER AND HOMESCHOOL TEACHER

Debbie earned her degree in Forestry and loaded up her belongings in a truck to seek work in Colorado. She landed a job on a surveying team and surveyed the foothills of the Rockies for Jefferson County. From there she moved on to the Open Space Department where she worked on designing trail systems for newly acquired parks. Despite having found her dream job, she moved to Divide Colorado because of her husband’s job transfer. With an entrepreneurial spirit, she started an interior plantscaping business with accounts in Colorado Springs. After building and growing the business for 11 years, she sold it to a couple who are still in business here in Colorado Springs. As her two boys grew, she decided to sign on as a substitute teacher to contribute to the household income. This is how she discovered her love for teaching and led her to seek licensure with the state. She taught in the Woodland Park District for 8 years. She has worked with children in an after school community service club for seven of those years instilling in them the importance of helping your community. Her love of environmental education led her to directing the environmental YES Club at her school through the Catamount Institute. Seeking alternatives to public education led her to Mountain Song School. She has been a part of the community teaching the second semester of second grade this past year. Debbie believes that school is such an integral part of a child’s life and should be a place that they love to come to each day. She is excited to be a part of the Mountain Song community. She is looking forward to building a wonderful relationship with her future students and familie

SHANNON LANG
5TH GRADE TEACHER

I like to refer to myself as, “Ohio grown.” I was born in Canton, Ohio and lived in the Buckeye State for 25 years before “the mountains of the west” beckoned me to make a pioneering move with my best friend. Growing up, I was actively involved on the YMCA swim team and begged my parents to put me in every art class offered at the public library. Over time, I discovered my desire to be a teacher and eventually “unearthed” my love for the outdoors. I graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. I received some of my most valuable professional development from the summers I spent as a camp counselor at Camp Nuhop, a weekly residential summer camp for children with special needs and as an assistant field-guide at Passages to Recovery, a wilderness therapy program for adults recovering from addiction. Shortly after moving to Colorado, my urge to swim again introduced me to the world of triathlons. I began training for a sprint distance triathlon and five years later I was completing my first full Ironman distance event (140.6 miles!). I began my teaching career with three years as a fourth grade teacher, followed by six years as a third grade teacher, and then three years as a first grade teacher in public education before I discovered Waldorf education. During my eager and enthusiastic research of Waldorf education, it quickly became apparent to me that I am truly a Waldorf teacher at heart. The journey ever since has felt like I’m emerging from the forest into a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and I’m beginning to run, skip and leap my way towards “home.” I have always believed that “learning” occurs through meaningful experiences that are connected to personal relationships built on respect, trust, and love.  I am both honored and ecstatic to be a part of the Mountain Song Community School’s family.

NANCY CARSON
6TH GRADE TEACHER

ALISIA MCCABE
6TH GRADE TEACHER

The eldest of four sisters, Alisia shares life-long experience with children and ongoing learning. Home schooled through sixth grade and then attending both charter and public schools in Colorado Springs, Alisia then moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, she spent time as a social worker in El Paso and Teller Counties before realizing her passion for teaching. Looking for nontraditional educational methods, she received her Lower Elementary certification at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Alisia spent three years as an assistant in a public Montessori classroom working and forming relationships with first, second and third grade students.

She served our community as a long term substitute at Mountain Song Community School while growing in Waldorf methods and pedagogy. She could not feel more excited to take this important journey with her students.

Alisia enjoys being outdoors, running, poetry, eating sushi and just about anything that gives her time with her husband and daughter. She also loves being with children as they make their own discoveries.

NATHANIEL DOLCE
7TH GRADE TEACHER

Mr. Nathaniel Dolce is joining us as the new Redwood 7th Grade teacher. Mr. Dolce has been with Mountain Song for a year already as a teaching assistant, and he demonstrates strength, resiliency, rigor, leadership, and the ability to form strong encouraging relationships to students and families. He holds a B.A. in history, and he is currently finishing his teaching licensure program at UCCS. We are delighted with the gifts, presence, and academic rigor he brings to the class as a middle school teacher.

REGINA TAFOYA
7TH GRADE TEACHER

JESSE ROCHETTE
8TH GRADE TEACHER

SHANNON LEIFER
HOMESCHOOL TEACHER

Hello Mountain Song, my name is Shannon Leifer and I am a homemaker/home school mother of 3 beautiful children.  My husband and I have lived in Colorado for 14 years. In the early years of our marriage we lived in the mountain valley of Vail, CO where I was a licensed Montessori pre-school teacher.  When our children came of school age we decided to keep them home and it was at this time I stepped into a Waldorf kindergarten classroom.  I emerged myself into the Waldorf pedagogy, reading books by Steiner and attending Waldorf At-Home workshops at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, CO and the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA.  I also helped organize a small Waldorf co-op where families with young children came together once a week to share circle time, stories, handwork and play. We were fortunate enough to have the Roaring Fork Waldorf School in Carbondale close to share in their festivals and parent-child classes. We moved to Colorado Springs 3 years ago and I continue to home school using Waldorf inspired curriculum.  It has been a true blessing watching my children grow and being able to attend to each of their individual temperaments. Home schooling and Waldorf have become our way of life and as a family we enjoy spending time together escaping into the mountains, hiking, playing games, reading, cooking and sharing life. I am very excited to bring my love and knowledge of the Waldorf pedagogy to the home school enrichment classes and look forward to being a part of the community at Mountain Song.

CLAUDIA MARTIN
HOMESCHOOL TEACHER/LIBRARIAN/GIFTED EDUCATION

I am a Colorado native, fortunate to have grown up in the Four Corners area. I received a BA in English from Colorado College, and raised my own family in the mountains near Florissant. A love of living close to nature fueled many important choices of my life:  living and teaching in a remote community in the Costa Rican rain forest for two years right after college; using daily hikes in nature for thirty years as the best therapy for my son who has autism; and teaching for twenty-five years in a small mountain community at Columbine Elementary School and Woodland Park Middle School, where outdoor education was a top priority.  In addition to my beloved Colorado, I’ve lived in upstate NY, Illinois, and Gainesville, Forida where I received an MED in education and taught at the University of FL Lab School.   My life passions include my family and friends, teaching, the arts, travel, history, healthy living, sustainability, learning, nature, and new experiences.  I am now a partially retired teacher, giving me time to volunteer at hospice, work as a sandtray art therapist, pursue a story collecting project, and work as a Home School Enrichment teacher at Mountain Song Community School.

As a teacher, I value facilitating individual children’s growth by honoring their wonderful uniqueness, while simultaneously building a caring classroom community committed to a harmonious whole.  The relationships I have built with my students over the years are some of my most treasured and ongoing friendships; children enrich my life and teach me as much as I do them.  I love the excitement of learning new things, and I try to model and communicate that excitement to my students through hands-on multisensory experiences, storytelling and literature, and the arts.  I am new to specific Waldorf education practices but not to the philosophy behind them, having helped found a Camphill community in Northern Colorado for adults with developmental disabilities.   However, the more I read about Waldorf practices, the more I realize I’ve been a Waldorf teacher all along.  I homeschooled my own daughter for many years in order to meet her unique needs as she grew into the artist and naturalist she is today, so I understand the benefits and challenges of homeschooling.   I look forward to further Waldorf training, collaborating with my colleagues, and working with parents as partners in their children’s education.

Special Subject Teachers

DEANNA BRAY
MUSIC GRADES 1-5

Deanna Bray grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada – “the land of living skies.” Her love for music and for children led her to attain a BMus and BEd with a concentration on elementary music from the University of Saskatchewan. Soon after graduation, her adventurous spirit beckoned her to explore other parts of North America. With her newfound skills in hand, she taught music to children in Mexico for four years and, after that, in San Diego. She recently moved to Colorado Springs to begin a new adventure with her husband and two children. Teaching music at a Waldorf charter school is her ideal music position, and she is so excited to begin this journey with Mountain Song.

LESLIE CONRAD
INTERVENTIONIST, LITERACY SUPPORT GRADES 1-4

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

I moved to the mountains of Colorado in 1976 after graduating from high school in Texas.  While working in Dillon, I met my husband.  We moved to Ft. Collins, where I went to CSU and received my Bachelor of Science degree.

We lived briefly in Nebraska, but moved back to Colorado in 1988.  I ran a preschool out of my home in Woodland Park for six years while my four children were small.  When my kids entered school, I began teaching in public school.  I have taught preschool, kindergarten, first, second and fourth grades, and the gifted and talented program.  Along the way, I received my Master’s Degree in reading.

When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me reading!  I love to read, and love to teach children the magic of reading.

MIKE HARRIS
MUSIC GRADES 6-8

I love music and am thrilled with the opportunity to impart that love to the children and young people at Mountain Song Community School. I am deeply grateful for the life I have enjoyed as a professional musician, private piano and voice teacher, private and charter school music teacher, worship leader, choir director, orchestra conductor, dramatic musical producer and organizational consultant. And, I am delighted to bring this experience to Mountain Song Community School and to become its middle school Music Teacher. My family and some wonderful music educators instilled in me this lifelong love of music and I look forward to passing that on to another generation of budding young musicians.

ELI pEAKE
MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH TEACHER

BRANDY ROBINSON
HANDWORK TEACHER

Ms. Robinson finds great joy in her work with children and continues a passionately filled journey teaching and inspiring students of all ages. She is dedicated to educating the child through reverence, beauty, and creativity through the practical arts. Ms. Robinson is ever in awe with the capacity children hold for learning and how they express their experiences through creative endeavors.

Ms. Robinson holds a background in visual and fiber arts and continues her education through the Waldorf-Steiner lens as well as traditional college and self education. She particularly enjoys the Humanities, History, World Geography and is cultivating a connection to the maths.

Having held positions on educational boards in both the private and public sectors as well having five years of classroom teaching experience, Ms. Robinson holds a great appreciation and compassion for the diversity brought together through the parents and teachers as a living partnership for the intensional education of the child.

When not teaching, one might see Ms. Robinson on her bicycle enjoying the early morning air, hiking, tending her chickens, or enjoying a great cup of coffee. A little known fact: Ms. Robinson is Gnome Maker and six of the seven continents are homes to her magical creations.

NICOLE SVENSON
INTERVENTIONIST GRADES 4-8

Hello!  I am so excited to be a part of the Mountain Song Community School community!  My name is Nicole Svenson and I am the Math & Reading Interventionist for Grades 4-8.  I would like to tell you a little bit about myself.  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1993 from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.  The following year, I earned my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in Reading from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  I have been both a Title I Reading Teacher and a classroom teacher.  This is my sixteenth year of teaching.  I took a couple of years off from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother to my two daughters.  My family and I moved to Colorado from Illinois about five years ago and we love it here!  In my free time, I love to spend time with my family (we LOVE the Dollar Theatre), crocheting, reading, cooking and baking gluten free food, as well as doing home improvement projects.  I look forward to meeting you all!

ORALIA VENZOR
SPANISH TEACHER GRADES 6-8

Oralia is a dancer, an artist, and a teacher. She is a bicultural and bilingual native of Chihuahua Mexico. She grew up in Colorado Springs and has always lived in both the U.S. and Mexico. Oralia graduated from CU Boulder with a  Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs. After graduating from college she became more actively involved in the Mexikayotl, heart of the Mexican people, Movement. The Mexikayotl Movement is a movement of people dedicated to the study and preservation of the Mexican culture and traditions.

Oralia has traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Mexico, and South America studying native art and culture. She has been an ancestral dance performing artist for over twenty years and has facilitated workshops and participated in cultural festivals internationally. Oralia is a member of the storytelling dance troupe Azteca Art Colorado-based out of Denver. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Chicano Humanities Arts Council gallery in the Denver arts district, where she performs annually for their Dia De Los Muertos event. One of her greatest accomplishments has been joining the Peace and  Dignity Journeys spiritual run in 1996 where she ran from ALburquerque N.M. to the great pyramids of Teotihuacan just outside of Mexico City.

Previously, Oralia worked for District 11 as a reading tutor and also served as a community liaison for the Spanish speaking families. Oralia is a professionally trained interpreter. In addition to teaching at Mountain Song, she also teaches and interprets at the Globelink Language Center, located downtown.

While traveling, Oralia discovered the Yucatan Peninsula and has made this part of the country her seasonal home. She is very excited to be back at Mountain Song teaching mIddle school this year! Since enrolling her son at the school five years ago Oralia has fallen in love with the Waldorf philosophy and pedagogy. She strongly believes in nurturing the nature of each student by teaching to the thinking, feeling and willing aspects of their being. She is looking forward to using her diverse knowledge and talents in creating rich cultural educational experiences for the students.

MARIA WEBB

SPANISH TEACHER GRADES 1-5

 

My name is María G. Webb.  I am from North of Mexico.  I came to USA 25 years ago.  I graduate from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature,  I continued studying abroad in Granada, Spain to get my Master in Spanish,  I am in the educational field since 19 years ago, teaching students of all ages (K-University).  I am a born writer.  I wrote more than 200 poems and short stories, some of them had been publish in “La Carta” magazine of TAMIU. I also wrote some articles in Suite101.net. I love the arts and all different style of expressions, reason why I participate in recitals and plays at TAMIU.  When I was a kid I want to be an actress but circumstances did not give me the chance to do that.  Still I had that in mind, and I accomplish that goal in my adult stage by being part of a movie “Milagro Movie” where my character was the antagonist. I moved to Colorado 5 years ago.  I was working as a Spanish teacher in Pueblo with students K-8.  I am extremely excited to work in Mountain Song School.  The Waldorf philosophy is a fantastic method to stimulate the imagination and creativity of the students.

ADAM WRIGHT
AGRICULTURE ARTS

Mr. Wright is a remarkably well-rounded professional who synthesizes his deep love for teaching with his passion for sustainable agriculture, writing, and the arts. He earned a BA with Highest Honors in Journalism and Dramatic Art (a double major) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and two master’s degrees from Iowa State University – an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment, and an MS in Sustainable Agriculture. As an elementary school gardening teacher in North Carolina, Mr. Wright developed a successful program of arts-based garden projects, coordinating with teachers to create cross-disciplinary curricula and integrated projects. Since then, he has worked on more than two dozen farms throughout the world, employing organic, sustainable, and biodynamic practices, and has developed and delivered numerous educational workshops and culinary classes in diverse settings

He incorporates theater and storytelling in teaching and has studied with master storytellers in Great Britain, among other places. His articles on sustainable agriculture and culinary arts are published in numerous print and online platforms, and he was named a Julia Child Foundation Food Writing fellow in 2015. He has also written and produced an interactive children’s play with an accompanying curriculum plan about food and agriculture. At Iowa State University, he served as an instructor in Speech, Composition, and Creative Writing courses. Throughout his various teaching capacities, Mr. Wright has consistently forged innovative educational approaches. In addition, he has worked in policy arenas, including with the USDA and a government organization in New Zealand.

Grades Assistants

Griffin_Olson_Assistant(1)
GRIFFEN OLSEN
1ST GRADE ASST/
AG ARTS ASST
Tiffany_Maniates_Assistant
TIFFANY MANIATES
1ST GRADE ASST/ADMIN ASST/LIBRARIAN

 

iEEDA BANACH
2ND GRADE ASST

ANI ROSE WHALESWAN
3RD GRADE ASST/PARAPROFESSIONAL

 

Special Education Teachers

LAUREN MARTINEZ
SPECIAL EDUCATION COORDINATOR AND TEACHER

I am thrilled to be part of the Mountain Song teaching staff this year and I look forward to meeting new colleagues, parents, and students. I grew up in Ohio and attended Ashland University for my bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Since then I have taught in Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico K-12 Special Education. I am married and my husband, Albert, is also in the field of education. I have two beautiful children, Emma Rose and Matthew, who keep me busy at home when I’m not teaching. Reading is my number one hobby. I also enjoy listening to music and going for walks or hikes outside

ANGELA STRICKLER
SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve at Mountain Song! It is a joy to be surrounded by fellow teachers that share a genuine care and love for children. I grew up in a family of teachers, so I guess you can say, “It’s in my blood.” I have been working my way west; born in New Jersey, moved to Illinois (where I received my degree in Special Education at Illinois State University) and then on to Colorado. I moved here in 1996, and since nature is my playground, I am peacefully settled. Colorado is my home with my husband of 22 years, and three beautiful daughters that are my joy.

After teaching Special Education for 4 years, I became a founding teacher at a local charter school and taught mostly 2nd grade for 13 years (total) with an 8 year break to be home with my girls and homeschool a bit, all the while learning and growing in my passion for helping those with special needs. I had the opportunity to serve adults with cognitive disabilities and spent countless hours researching methods for helping struggling learners. My philosophy is summed up in a quote from Helen Keller as she grew older. She said, “I cannot stop to grow old while there is so much work to do, and so many children to help.” My heart has always been for the struggling learner and I am thankful to have this opportunity at Mountain Song. Your child is valuable to me!

mICHAEL kATZENBERG
SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER

© 2019 Mountain Song Community School Public Charter School. Mountain Song Community School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or age in its programs and activities.

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