Frank Coyne, Lead Partner
I have been in education for 12 years. As Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, at DU I oversaw the dynamic partnerships between DU and Denver Public Schools. I attained my B.A. in Human Development and Race Relations from Pennsylvania State University. I also completed a secondary teacher's Certification and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. At the heart of my educational philosophy is the strong belief that students will learn best by "doing"—but not merely doing for the sake of experience, rather I believe that students have a hunger to learn while working to solve problems-problems that matter to them. I believe DGS will provide such relevancy and engagement, and students will be more connected and have huge stake in education and world in which we live. I believe that it is vital to engage teachers and students in the relevant learning that works to solve community problems. Call it service-learning, call it civic engagement, I call it my life's work. I firmly believe we are creating a model that will have positive impacts on a national scale.
Prudence Daniels, Lead Partner
I am elated to join the Denver Green School team as your newest Lead Partner! This year marks my fifteenth school year in Denver Public Schools. I started my career as special educator at Rishel Middle School in southwest Denver. From there I went on to become an instructional coach, assistant principal, and most recently co-lead the DPS Peer Observer Team as part of the our teacher growth and evaluation system. Personally, I am a Denver native raising two wonderful kids with a very patient husband. I love the Colorado outdoors and am proud to join a community that shares my enthusiasm for stewardship and sustainability. Some of my other passions include cooking, running, CrossFit, gardening, and comedy. I have been cheering on the DGS team since the school was in the planning phase and am beyond excited to finally become a part of this extraordinary community. I very much am looking forward to getting to know your students and each of you on our journey together.
Sydney Schoonmaker, ECE Teacher, Partner
I am a Colorado native, born in Boulder and raised in Littleton. After interning and teaching at Boulder Journey School, I finished my Masters in Early Childhood Education in August of 2010. I have loved developing the ECE program here at DGS from the beginning and am always excited to see where we go next! I am so lucky to work at DGS where I can be a part of such an inspiring community of educators, families, and of course, amazing students. Working at DGS has inspired me to learn yoga and start a garden of my very own!
Kartal Jaquette, Lead Partner
My fifth year at DGS will be my tenth year as an educator. In these ten years, I have taught elementary in Boulder, Denver and Uganda. In addition to these varied teaching jobs, I had some diverse child development experiences as a youth. In fact, it was as a 15 year old working at a summer camp in New Hampshire that I realized I wanted to become a teacher. I would describe my educational style as being creative and enthusiastic. My childhood teachers would not be surprised to hear me describe myself as creative and enthusiastic as an adult, but they would be surprised that I have grown to cherish the value of well-organized systems and clear objectives. I am drawn to DGS because my experience in the outdoors has made me a lover of nature. In a larger sense, I see DGS as being my chance to help save the planet that I love. I have two dreams for DGS. The first is that we will create students who are prepared to live successful and sustainable lives. Second, I have already realized that the effort I put into this school comes back to me in the form of serious pride and satisfaction, so I am eager to continue to pour my heart and soul into something that feels so rewarding.
MEGAN MARTINEZ, 5TH GRADE TEACHER, DGS PARTNER
I grew up in Pontiac, Michigan and enjoyed playing soccer, swimming, and running track. I attended Michigan State University where I majored in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education. After I earned my degree, I taught a 3rd grade bilingual class on the Southwest side of Chicago for three years. While teaching in Chicago, I earned my bilingual and ELA endorsement. In 2009 I moved to Monterrey, Mexico to teach fourth grade at the American School Foundation of Monterrey. I had a wonderful time exploring the lively city and traveling. After returning from Mexico I taught in Chicago for another year. I heard about DGS from a family friend and seemed like a dream come true. Then, I applied and was hired, and shortly after I headed west with my two cats! The rest is history! I have truly enjoyed working at DGS because of the community values and dedication to best practice in education. I feel lucky to be here!
ERIN MILLER, MILD MODERATE SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER, DGS Partner
I am a Colorado native and love living and working in the Denver area. I received my Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in Special Education from Denver's own Metropolitan State University. I have worked with students and adults with disabilities for over eight years and have worked in DPS in different capacities for the past six. Prior to my work as a special education teacher I served as a behavioral interventionist for an autism center in Denver, as a speech-language pathology assistant and assistive technology consultant for DPS. Of all of my experience working with people with disabilities, I found my true passion is working with students with autism spectrum disorders. I feel truly lucky to work at Denver Green School which fosters an incredibly inclusive environment for students with different needs. I am constantly inspired by the gifted staff and enthusiastic students. In my free time, I am an avid reader, an aspiring foodie, and an amateur runner/cyclist.
Alissa Mundt, 6th Grade Teacher, Partner
I was born in Seattle, Washington, raised in the Portland, Oregon, and stayed in the I-5 corridor for college, attending the University of Puget Sound. After spending my entire life in the Northwest, I ventured south to begin my teaching career in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After two years in the Red Stick, I was ready for a change. I moved to Denver to continue teaching and then, after five years of teaching, I took a year off and traveled in South and Central America volunteering and learning Spanish. My teaching career took a slight detour when I returned to Denver to attend law school at the University of Denver. After three years of law school I realized that while I enjoyed the legal world, I really missed teaching. I am really excited to be back in the classroom this year, especially at Denver Green School. I look forward to learning from my peers and students, as well as integrating my experiences from outside the classroom to create an engaging and inspiring learning environment. When I am not in the classroom as either a student or a teacher, I love to spend my time running, biking, cooking, hiking, traveling, and doing yoga.
Allen Potter, 6th Grade Teacher, Partner
I am a secondary level social studies teacher and a founding partner of DGS. I graduated from Cherry Creek high school in 1986 and went on to study history at the University of Kansas. I gained a global perspective (as well as competency in both French and Spanish) by spending three years living in Strasbourg, France and Barcelona. In addition to my work with DGS, I am also completing a Master's degree in Global Affairs from the University of Denver. I've been a teacher in Denver for fifteen years, all of them at Rishel middle school. I'm proud of my accomplishments as a teacher, student advisor and coach, as well as the connections and relationships I've built by living right in the Rishel community. I am committed to putting students at the center of their own learning; I believe that this approach (known as Place-Based education) is the key to fostering relevancy in students' learning. When students see the connections between their education and their own lives, they are far more enthusiastic learners. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to create and work in this spirited learning environment.
Jose Piza, 7th Grade, Partner
I am a Cuban-Mexican educator with a passionate interest in what education means for the 21st century learner. As a Cuban-Mexican, I share a love of diversity and have a deep respect for the challenge of learning a language. Spanish is my native language. Through my coursework, as I attained a Masters Degree in Classical studies, I have also studied Latin and Ancient Greek. It is clear to me that language and diversity both involve getting close and personal to effectively translate those concepts into good learning. As an educator, I am new to my field. I worked in the non-profit sector helping families through various education programs. Eventually, I returned to school. I earned a license to teach and began working as a middle school teacher. The age group for me demonstrates an amazing talent for curiosity as they explore the world through a unique blend of youthful play and adult-like intellectual maturity. It is a privilege to work with this age group, and a source of constant joy. As someone concerned with learning in the 21st century, I sense a dramatic change in the world around us. It is evident to most that a digital age filled with new attitudes about the world has emerged. Tomorrow's leaders will require a tool set for success that relies on critical thinking skills, an ability to connect their local world to the global landscape and a love for constant learning as the world around them changes. I can't think of anything more exciting than joining students as they tackle this work or a more perfect location for the work. Go DGS!
Carlos Romero, 1st Grade Teacher
I was born close to the Pacific coast in Oxnard, California but have spent the majority of my life in the Southwest and feel a strong connection to the land. I studied English Literature and Art History at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. One of my earliest educational memories is sitting down and listening to my sister read Richard Scarry books and Little Golden Books to me while we sat on the couch. It was so joyful and fun and instilled in me a true love for reading. And then there is Dr. Murrell, my 9thgrade Latin teacher. He challenged his students to be critical thinkers, to question everything, and to take hold of one’s own learning for the pure sake of cultivating knowledge and wisdom. I keep these and other experiences in mind as I step into the classroom and greet the growing minds and smiles of children. I have been an early childhood and early primary teacher for ten years and strive to instill a passion for learning in my students that they can carry with them inside and outside of the classroom. I believe that Denver Green School is an amazing place that embraces many philosophies that I hold dear as an educator and as a citizen of the world. I am exuberant to be part of a collective that prioritizes the interconnectedness of living systems and promotes responsible citizenship in regard to our environment and community. If I am not at DGS, you may find me hiking, camping, riding bikes with my awesome wife, playing records loudly, or romping with our dogs.
Caitlin Graboski, 2nd Grade Teacher
I grew up on the east coast and earned my BA in Human Development and Spanish at Boston College. After a summer of bicycling across the country to raise money for affordable housing, I pursued my interest in social justice by taking on a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA in San Francisco. A year of inspiring early childhood education work with the non-profit Jumpstart was enough to set my sights on being in the classroom full-time, and I accepted a position as a support teacher at Marin Country Day School. During my time at MCDS, I completed a MA in Teaching at the University of San Francisco. I am thrilled to be a part of the DGS community, a place where I can encourage young students to invite challenges, to change our world for the better, and to be creative and motivated problem solvers. I also enjoy spending time outside: kayaking, hiking, camping and skiing. I love to cook, swing and tap dance, and play the ukulele and guitar.
Travis Balch, 8th Grade Teacher
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I finished my masters in Secondary Education from The University of New Mexico in 2011. The 2015-2016 school year marks my 8th year teaching! My passion for education was ignited through my work and experience in summer camps in Colorado and New Mexico. But my passion for math has always existed. I love teaching math because, more than anything, I see math as the method for understanding the world around us. DGS provides a unique opportunity to blend the study of mathematics and environmental education which is what most excites me about being a teacher at DGS. In my spare time I enjoy traveling, kayaking, hiking, playing hockey and, of course, watching South Park.