Laura Munro has called Colorado home for over 20 years, but was born and raised in New Orleans. After attending high school and college on the East coast she packed her bags and headed for the mountains of Colorado thinking she’d only stay for the summer. Once she decided that working as an educator was her true passion she went back to school to get her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and an Endorsement in Bilingual Education. Laura began her teaching career at the preschool and elementary levels. Through out her career she has served in a variety of capacities across some of the state’s leading school districts. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she’s been an Instructional Coach, ESL Director, and a Director of Student Achievement for Diverse Learners. Laura has an entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and focus to ensure the academic success for the children attending Centennial, A School for Expeditionary Learning. When she’s not at Centennial Laura loves mountain bike, cook, read and have adventures in the Colorado mountains with her husband and two young daughters.
Emily Volkert has been rowing with Centennial’s CREW and community since 2016. Over the years, Emily served as an instructional coach and reading support teacher at Centennial. Emily’s education journey has also included teaching children and adults to ride horses as a wrangler at a dude ranch, English to K – 8th graders in Patagonia, Chile, 5th graders in Nashville, Tennessee, and 3rd grade bilingual students at Newlon Elementary in Denver Public Schools. Emily has also been a literacy specialist for DPS. She has a B.A. in International Affairs, Environmental Studies and Economics and a M.A. in Teaching, Learning and Leading and an M.A. in Instructional Leadership. She is passionate about fostering independence and a sense of wonder to enable kids and communities to succeed. Outside of Centennial, Emily enjoys cooking and hiking with her husband, learning to play the guitar and gardening.
Erin came to Centennial from Charleston, S.C. where she has lived most of her life. Her passion for education has been a lifelong journey which began while volunteering at The Boys and Girls Club and also while teaching karate. Erin received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of Charleston following which she began teaching in the Charleston County School District. She soon became intrigued with using hands-on instructional strategies in the classroom. This inspired Erin to return to the College of Charleston and obtain a Master’s degree in Science and Math. After completion of graduate school she transitioned out of the classroom into an instructional coach role. When Charleston County School District was awarded a Race to the Top Award to implement a competency-based personalized learning framework, she served as the demonstration coach and teacher for the district. Erin is excited to trade beaches for mountains as her family relocates to the Denver area.
Tonia (Tone-ya) is not a Colorado native, but she has lived in Colorado for over a decade. After graduating from high school, indecision in declaring a major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire prompted her to make a change, and a move out west! Through her experience teaching young children to ski in Steamboat Springs, she discovered that her love of working with children was actually more than that, she had a true passion for teaching young children. Tonia decided to resume her college studies but this time with a clear focus and, with a wedding and a baby along the way, graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Early Childhood Education from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Tonia prioritizes teaching the “whole child” and embraces teaching content and social-emotional wellbeing in unison. Constructivist theory and research-based teaching methods are the foundations of Tonia’s teaching. She looks for ways to create wonder and a love of learning in her classroom everyday, and she values students’ families as teaching partners. Outside of teaching, Tonia enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, her 3 year old daughter, Emma, and her chihuahua, Dolce. She relishes in opportunities to explore and learn new things, making her preferred reading list a stack of scientific journal articles. She regularly practices yoga and has recently started volunteering with Project Worthmore, supporting refugees and their families.
Michelle has been at Centennial since 2004, and enjoyed every bit of it. This is my second year with ECE-3 and I truly love working with the little ones. “A smile a day goes a long way”, is my motto. When I’m not at school I enjoy spending time with my daughters and pets.
Veronica is from El Paso, Texas and moved to Denver in 1997. She earned her BA in Spanish with a licensure in elementary education from Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2003. She has been teaching for 12 years, most recently at Harrington Elementary in Denver, and has experience teaching first, fourth and fifth grade. During her free time Veronica enjoys being outdoors, cooking and hanging out with her loved ones.
Jamie was born and raised in Colorado. She has 2 girls and has been married for 30 years. When she’s done organizing Centennial’s staff and finances, and making sure the school is stocked up with supplies, she enjoys cooking and reading.
Chris (pictured center) is very excited to be part of the Crew! He grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and received a degree in history from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he also ran on the varsity track and cross country teams. He is currently working on completing his masters in critical pedagogy at the University of Colorado Denver and is working to complete an Early Literacy Certificate via Guided Reading Plus classes. Chris loves working with students and sharing his love of learning. Outside of teaching, he enjoys reading and continues to run competitively.
My name is Amy DeFusco, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut, with my brother and our very large extended family. I lived there until I was 18 and decided to move to Colorado. I have been working in Early Childhood since 2011, and when I decided to become a special education teacher, I moved back for a short while to finish college and be with my family. When I earned my Early Childhood Special Education degree, my husband and I decided to move back to Colorado so I could continue teaching. We have been back in Denver since 2015. I live in Denver with my husband Mark. We have 2 dogs, Lucy and Moura and 1 cat, Neymar. I enjoy being outside & spending time with my friends and family.
Kelly began her teaching career through teaching English abroad and then joined the Denver Teacher Residency Program. She has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Colorado Denver and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. Kelly has been teaching in DPS since 2014 and is grateful to be a part of the Centennial community. She believes in the transformative power of education and is passionate about serving and instilling a love of learning in her students, as well as empowering and advocating for underrepresented communities. In her free time, Kelly enjoys doing yoga and going on little adventures with her husband and daughter.
My name is Carol Ewald, and I am excited to join the Centennial crew for this school year as a new teacher. I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland before moving to Cleveland, Ohio where I received my bachelor’s degrees from Baldwin Wallace University. I have been living in Colorado for 4 years now and it truly feels like home. Outside of work I can most likely be found in the mountains with my fiancée and 15-year-old husky. I am currently completing my master’s degree in early childhood special education at the University of Northern Colorado. I have always been passionate about working with young children and promoting inclusive practices for all students. I am excited to work with each of my students to meet their needs to help them grow and succeed in every environment.
Lauren originally hails from Iowa, and has recently happily settled in Denver after living in different corners of the country, most recently DC. After teaching at a private school in NYC for two years, Lauren moved to the San Francisco area, where she taught in a high school class for students with emotional and behavioral challenges. She earned a Masters in School Psychology at San Francisco State University and then a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in School Psychology at George Mason University in Virginia. Lauren worked as a psychologist in Fairfax County Public Schools for three years. She and her husband moved to Denver two years ago, and she spent last year working at Math and Science Leadership Academy, another public elementary school in DPS. Lauren enjoys working with diverse learners and helping families support their children’s social-emotional development. Lauren loves to travel to visit friends and family, as well as spend time exploring Denver and the surrounding area with her husband and energetic two year old son.
Emily is very excited to be part of the Centennial Crew! Emily earned her BA in Communication Studies and her Master’s in Teaching from the University of San Francisco. Emily has taught kindergarten for five years, and ECE at Centennial. She enjoys sharing her love of learning with her students. When not in the classroom, Emily loves hiking, running, spending time with her friends, and traveling.
Stacy was raised in NW Denver and was a student at Centennial when it opened in 1976. She went on to Skinner, North, and received a degree in Architectural Drafting. Stacy has been married to her husband for 35 years, after meeting him when they were both students at Skinner Middle School. When Stacy isn’t assisting our families at Centennial, she is very active swimming, biking, running, and hiking and spending time with her adult children.
Betlihem’s family is originally from a small country in Africa called, Eritrea but Colorado has always been home. As first generation, I earned my undergraduate in Public Health and International Relations in 2015 from CU Denver and I plan to continue my education in Early Childhood Development. One thing I have come to know about myself is how passionate I am in caring for others. I love working with children because I always have a blast and everyday is different. It is so exciting to see their faces light up when learning. In my spare time, I love traveling and spend time with my family and friends. I am so grateful to be a part of this crew!
Hi! I’m Nancy Gutierrez. My family is from Jerez, Zacatecas, a small town in Mexico. I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado where I earned my B.A in Elementary Education with an endorsement in ESL. I have had the pleasure of teaching at Centennial for 6 years. I student taught in 2nd grade then ended the year teaching kindergarten. I taught K/1 multiage for three years and taught a loop of 2nd and 3rd grade. I have also worked as an interventionist in kindergarten, fourth, and fifth grade. I love playing basketball, working out, reading a good book, traveling to Mexico, and spending time with my family and friends. My desire is to ignite a passion for learning into each kiddo I comes across and help their hearts grow.
Lisa earned her undergraduate for education at Regis University and her Masters Degree in Linguistically Diverse Education at the University of Colorado Denver. Lisa has taught at Centennial A School For Expeditionary Learning for almost her whole teaching career! She is excited to make learning engaging and meaningful for her students. She loves how enthused the children get when they learn something new. Lisa loves teaching the younger students and enjoys teaching Kindergarten and looping to First. When Lisa is not teaching, she loves being around her friends, family, and animals!
Lauren was born in Boulder and grew up in the Boulder area. She went far from home and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Elementary Education. She is a lifelong learner who feels blessed to have spent almost her entire career at Centennial. This is Lauren’s seventh year being part of Centennial’s CREW. Spending her days with fourth and fifth graders fills her heart. Lauren believes in building deep relationships with her students so they too enjoy learning and believe in themselves. During her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, playing with her dog, Bowie, and getting lost in a good book.
Mira is a Colorado native who has lived in Denver for over 20 years. After studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver and earning her BA in Communications with an emphasis and minor in Early Childhood Education and a Colorado teaching license in Early Childhood Education, she began her teaching career as a first/second grade and kindergarten teacher in Douglas County at an Expeditionary Learning school. When her first son was born, she began her own family childcare home and preschool in NW Denver, Great Heights Preschool. In her time as teacher, director and owner of Great Heights, she had a second son, earned her Reading Specialist MA from Regis University and developed lifelong relationships with children and families in the neighborhood. After running the program for seven years, she was ready to work again with colleagues and mentors who could push her thinking and help her grow professionally, so she joined Denver Public Schools as an Early Education Partner. In her partner role at Denver Public schools, she grew in her ability to coach and facilitate adult learners and got to see some of the inner workings of a large urban school district but missed connecting directly with children and families. Her two boys, Dylan and Sam are now age 11 and 10 and she spends her free time with them and her husband, visits with friends and family, enjoys time in nature in the mountains and time at home watching movies, and planning her next great adventure.
Grace grew up in Kansas City, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, she moved to Denver to pursue a career in teaching as a Math Fellow at Centennial. Grace went on to earn her Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado Denver and is excited to be teaching at Centennial. Outside of school, Grace loves to spend time outside, running and climbing with friends and family.
Raychel was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Louisiana State University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. After graduating, she spent two years working with the homeless population in New Orleans to connect individuals to housing and health services. In 2013, she made the journey west to Denver and began working at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. In seeing the effects of a lack of education and opportunities for homeless populations, she decided become a teacher in 2015. Raychel completed the Teach for America program and also earned her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado Denver in Universal Design for Learning. She is so excited to continue her role as CREW leader at Centennial. She is passionate about classroom culture and believes that every child should have choice and opportunity in life to be successful and happy. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her husband and friends, cuddling her cats, music, skating, cooking, traveling, and all things fun!
Sam has been a Centennial Crewmate since 2018 and previously worked as our school’s Educational Counselor/Restorative Practices Coordinator. Sam earned her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Denver, specializing in Child and Youth Development and K-12 Education. Before joining the Centennial Crew, Sam worked in Jefferson County Schools and as the Children’s Services Specialist at a local transitional housing community for single-parent families exiting homelessness. Sam is passionate about supporting students as they discover their inner strengths and unique identities and empowering each to find success and happiness here at school. When she’s not at work, you can find Sam playing in the mountains, taking any chance she can get to see a concert at Red Rocks, and trying to keep up with her daughter.
Andy grew up in Minnesota and moved to Colorado for the first time in 2001 to serve as an Americorps VISTA member. He moved to Northern Ireland in 2004 to work with Habitat for Humanity and then returned to Colorado in 2007. Andy spent most of his pre-teaching career working with nonprofit organizations in the areas of health and human services and early childhood development. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) and joined the staff after completing the Boettcher Teacher Residency in which he apprenticed with a master teacher right here at Centennial. Andy, his wife, and their two children live in the Centennial neighborhood and both kids are students at Centennial. In his free time, Andy loves to read, ride bikes (mountain and road), travel, and goof around with his kids. His teaching philosophy revolves around creating a classroom of lifelong learners. “The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned, but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.” -Eric Hoffer
Shari Marcely (PE) – I have been fortunate to live my dream and my passion for 15 years in the Denver Public School District as a Physical Education teacher. The athletic gifts that I have been given led to a full athletic scholarship in softball and allowed me to earn a teaching degree in K-12 Physical Education. A softball tournament led me to the love of my life and my husband of 17 years, Marty. Our mutual love for sports were passed on to our two sons (Shayne- 15 and Riley- 11) who couldn’t be loved more and continue to keep us busy with their own athletic pursuits including hockey, baseball, golf, basketball and lacrosse. When I am not spending time with the family on or off the field, you can find me at the rink enthusiastically pursuing my passion and trying to keep my balance on the slippery surface of the ice playing hockey.
Katie moved to Colorado in 2011 after teaching ECE-12th grade art for five years in New York State. She earned her BFA from Alfred University and her Masters in Education from Walden University. Katie enjoys working with her students outside of her art room coaching the Girls on the Run Program, working with Centennials running club and facilitating multiple after school Art Clubs. When she is not at school, Katie enjoys coaching CrossFit and gymnastics, running, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, sewing, drawing and adventuring in the sunshine.
Michelle is excited to be a part of the Centennial Community! This is her sixth year teaching in Denver Public Schools after 12 years of teaching and traveling abroad. Michelle started her teaching career at the bilingual John F. Kennedy School in Berlin, Germany. She taught Kindergarten and looped up to teach First Grade to a wonderful group of bilingual children. After two years Michelle relocated to Singapore, where she taught First Grade for five years at Singapore American School. The next adventure for Michelle was a year off traveling and exploring India, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Jordan, and re-connecting with friends and family in Berlin and the US. The next four years took Michelle back to Europe, teaching Second Grade at the International School of Prague. Michelle lives a full life, balancing her love for teaching with cooking, biking, reading, skiing, paddling, playing games, eating pie, and spending time with her cat.
Haley is so excited to be part of the Centennial Crew! Haley grew up in Glenwood Springs and earned her B.A. in Communications from the University of Colorado Boulder and her M.A. in Elementary Education from Regis University. Haley strives to empower learners by creating a compassionate and effective learning environment that fosters a sense of wonder and supports all learning styles. During her free time, Haley enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, practicing yoga, skiing and spending time with her family, friends, fiancé and their dog, Riley.
Monica Osborn-O’Dowd is thrilled to be part of the Centennial Community and part of the Crew! Being with children and nourishing their sense of wonder and excitement to learn brings joy to her day. Monica has lived in the Denver area for the past three years. Before coming to colorful Colorado, She lived in California and grew up in New Mexico where she earned a B.S. and M.A. in Elementary Education and an Ed. S. in Educational Leadership. During her teaching career, Monica has taught primarily multi-age classes, in grades kindergarten through fourth. She has also had the pleasure of teaching Early Childhood Education students at California State University Channel Islands. Monica enjoys traveling, art, playing with her dog, and spending time with her husband and his four wonderful children.
Josie was born in Denver on Lowry Air Force Base. She grew up in Colorado Springs where she attended UCCS (CU-Colorado Springs) and earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Management. Josie spent ten years in marketing, working closely with curriculum, which inspired her to take the plunge into teaching. In 2015, Josie earned her Master’s degree in Education and Elementary Curriculum. She is so excited to be part of the Centennial Crew, teaching alongside some of the most committed educators and fascinating students Denver has to offer. When she’s not in the classroom, Josie spends time with her awesome husband Dave and their two hilarious kids, Conrad and Rosemary. The Pack family enjoys pizza nights, living room dance parties, and pretending to sleep in.
Michelle was born and raised in Colorado, growing up in Boulder. She currently lives in southeast Denver with her daughter and doggie. She earned her bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University in Business Administration. After having such a wonderful experience with her daughter during elementary school, Michelle knew that her calling was to work with young children. She started her teaching career as an ECE Paraprofessional for DPS and completed her student internship last year and received her Teaching License in Early Childhood Education in May of 2014. As a life-long learner, her goal is to complete her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Her expeditionary learning philosophy is believing that children learn by doing and that she is to guide students along this life-long journey with care, compassion and respect for their diverse learning styles. Addressing individual differences increases the potential for learning and creativity in each student. In addition to working with children both during and after school, Michelle loves to hang out with her beautiful daughter and dog and enjoys swimming, reading, meditation and eating chocolate.
Claire is excited to be joining the Centennial CREW this year! Claire grew up in Buffalo, NY, and just moved out to Denver from Boston. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Mathematics with a minor in Special Education from Boston College in Massachusetts. After graduation, Claire worked as an Americorp member with City Year Boston and then as a resource teacher in the Boston Public School. Claire has a dog named Annie and she is her adventure buddy! Outside of school, Claire loves reading, dancing, skiing, hiking, camping, and hanging with friends and family.
Laura is excited to be part of the crew at Centennial. She is passionate about providing high quality authentic learning experiences for children and empowering them with the positive skills they need to succeed in school and in life. Laura grew up on a small farm in northeast Iowa and moved to Colorado shortly after graduating high school to become a nanny. She has over ten years of experience as a lead preschool teacher in the Denver metro area. She received her BA in Early Childhood Education from Regis University in 2015. Laura lives in Wheat Ridge with her husband and their dog Roxie. They have have two children in college, both studying to be teachers. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, swimming and sewing.
Nicole (Nic) Savinar is a Colorado native. Her, her husband, her two sons and her black lab Chauncey live in the Highlands and absolutely love the neighborhood. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She then attended the University of Phoenix to complete her Master’s degree in Elementary Education and then onto Regis to complete her Linguistically Diverse Education Master’s degree. She is a lifelong learner who jumps at opportunities to grow and evolve as a person and an educator. This is her seventh year being a part of Centennial’s CREW and she couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this wonderful community. Nic’s favorite part about teaching is building relationships with her students, their families, and the community. She believes that she can make a difference in the lives of her students by fostering creativity, developing character, and having the mindset that all students can succeed. She is a diehard Broncos and Buffs fan! During her free time, Nic enjoys traveling, running, skiing, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends and family.
Hi, my name is Elise and I am the school nurse. I am excited to be a part of the C.R.E.W. at Centennial! My favorite thing to do in Colorado is go camping. My family also spends a lot of time creating new things, whether it be games, recipes, or toys. This summer I plan to renovate our backyard. If your child has a chronic medical condition or a health concern and we have not spoken yet, please email or call me so that we can set up a time to discuss their needs. My goal is to team with you to ensure everyone’s health and safety while they are at school. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!
Erica earned her BA in behavioral science, with a minor and licensure in elementary education, and an emphasis on linguistically diverse education from Metropolitan State University in 2013. She has experience teaching first, second, and third grade, and has been involved in Montessori and traditional education for over 18 years. As a mother of five children and one grandchild, Erica has an understanding of many perspectives. She is ecstatic about teaching second grade at Centennial since children are her greatest joy. During her free time, Erica enjoys hiking in the mountains with her family, and reading great books. She and her husband also get great pleasure from being a part of what their children love to do including dance, theater and sports.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, Cindy followed her sense of adventure and moved west. She taught Kindergarten in Cherry Creek for ten years 10 years and then went on to earned her Masters in Library Science from the University of Denver. Cindy was the librarian at Brown Elementary School in DPS for seven years. In addition to working at Brown, she has been working with Expeditionary Learning as a research librarian creating book lists and curriculum text to support the Common Core ELA curriculum. She is looking forward to working at Centennial and supporting Expeditionary Learning’s dynamic curriculum that fosters the growth of all students. In her free time she enjoys reading, running, knitting and spending time with her husband, daughters and crazy dogs.
Jessica has been teaching in DPS since 2014. Jessica graduated from the Stanley British Teacher Preparation Program and has a Masters in Human Learning and Development with a concentration in Early Literacy at UCD. She also has a background in environmental education. Jessica loves teaching because she is able to help instill a love of learning, and sense of curiosity and wonder in children. Hands-on, expeditionary learning is her passion!! Jessica’s hobbies include exploring the outdoors with her family and finding time for yoga!
Nicole continues to enjoy being a part of the Centennial community! She has worked in the field of education in various capacities. She has working in the areas of school culture, community building, social/emotional learning and youth development. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Ms. Tembrock earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communications and psychology from the University of Denver and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University. Outside of work, Nicole enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially in the outdoors!
Robyn’s belief in Expeditionary Learning is reflected by the quote: “Students do work that is good for the mind, good for the soul, and good for the world.” Over the past eight years, Robyn has fallen in love with her role as an educator, teaching age groups ranging from first through fifth grade, with a most recent role as a first grade teacher at Centennial. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Manchester College in her home state of Indiana, Robyn felt a pull towards Denver, where she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was inspired by the students she met and received her teaching license from the University of Northern Colorado and is earning a Master’s in Linguistically Diverse Education at University of Colorado at Denver. She believes the Expeditionary Learning model is how she would have wanted to learn as a child, and it nurtures a sense of wonder and exploration and enables children to contribute to their community in meaningful ways. Outside of school, Robyn loves cooking, swimming, reading, and spending time with her family, friends, and two dogs, Raleigh and Chico. Students hear many stories about her four-legged babies!
Kate was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She began her education in DPS and always dreamed of becoming a DPS teacher herself. Kate graduated from Boston University with a degree in Elementary Education. She believes in a whole child approach to education and that building relationships with students is one of the most important things you can do in a classroom. Kate is so grateful to be a part of the amazing Centennial crew!