Elementary School Teachers

Sydney Schoonmaker, ECE Teacher, DGS 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!


I have been with DGS for four years.  Previously I was a student mentor and a student teacher in a DGS Kindergarten classroom. I am currently completing a Master's within Education and Human Learning and Development with a focus on Early Literacy Acquisition through the University of Colorado. I am originally from West Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland in 2010.  I relocated to Colorado in 2012 after volunteering with DGS through AmeriCorps and falling in love with the school.  I now live in Sedalia, Colorado on a bison ranch with my husband, CJ, and two adorable puppies, Ellie and Bo. When I am not at school I love reading, hiking, trying new recipes, and lots of coffee. I am so excited for another year in Kindergarten and cannot wait for our many adventures ahead! 

Kristen Wagner, Kindergarten Teacher, DGS PARTNER

I am beginning my seventh year of teaching and am very excited to begin my second year the Denver Green School.  I am a midwestern transplant and attended Purdue University to obtain my Bachelor's in Elementary Education.  I moved to Colorado shortly after graduating and taught in Golden for five years.  I spent four of those years in kindergarten and loved showing children how exciting it is to learn.  My love of the early childhood years inspired me to go back to school for a Master's degree in Educational Psychology with a focus in Human Development.  When not at school I love to experience everything that Colorado has to offer with my husband Corey.

Alicia Smith, 1st Grade Teacher

Originally from Kansas, I studied photography, Spanish, and creative writing at Prescott College. The ecologically inspired mission of Prescott College along with the majestic natural surroundings of Arizona invoked in me the responsibility to live a healthy and sustainable life in order to protect both the planet and the health of our future generations. Since then many diverse and fateful steps have brought me to my current position as a Student Mentor at The Denver Green School where I hope to inspire and support both the love of learning and ecological stewardship among our students. In addition, I am extremely honored to be a part of such a dedicated and unique team of educators who truly care about making positive change in the lives of our youth.

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.

Jessica Kirchbaum, 2nd Grade Teacher

My name is Jessica Krichbaum and this is my third year teaching second grade at the Denver Green School! Before moving out to Colorado I taught within the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) teaching the first grade in Chicago, Illinois at UNO Soccer Academy. I graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a degree in Elementary Education, Special Education, and a Reading Specialist License. I guess you can say I have always had the "teacher gene". This was only confirmed for me during experiences in high school. I am so happy to be a part of the DGS community doing the only job I could ever see myself in! 

Emily Detmer, 3rd Grade Teacher


I am a Denver native and so excited to be working at DGS! My first year at DGS will be my fourth year teaching in Denver. I received my undergraduate degree from The University of the South Sewanee and my graduate degree from the University of Colorado Denver. After my senior year at Sewanee I came back to Denver and did my Intern Teaching year with the Stanley British Primary School Teacher Preparation Program. I was fortunate to intern in Aurora Public Schools and Denver Public Schools. After that year I worked in two different Denver Public Schools before joining DGS. My family and I are huge CU Buffalos Football fans and I am found at the games most Saturdays in the fall. I enjoy cooking, baking, and all things outdoors. I'm excited for another great school year! 

Julie Yonkus, 3rd Grade Teacher

My name is Julie Yonkus and this will be my first year at DGS. I am so excited to be a part of the DGS team! I was born and raised in Chicago, so I love to cheer for the Chicago Bears and White Sox. When I was a senior in college, I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico to complete my Student Teaching. After that, I taught for three years in the Aurora Public Schools, in Aurora, IL. Last summer I left my family back in Chicago and I moved to Colorado and taught 2ndgrade in the Northeast of Denver. Some of my Colorado hobbies include hiking with my husky, camping, skiing, running, mountain biking, cooking, and many more! 

Matt Meyer, 4th Grade Teacher

I grew up in Dallas and I went to college in San Antonio, where I studied Spanish and Political Science. After working at a middle school in Granada, Spain for one fun filled year, I started my teaching career in Oakland. While in California, I taught second, third, and fourth grade. Along the way, I earned my Masters in Education Policy and Leadership from Stanford University. This year, I'm excited to move to Colorado and join the DGS team. When I am not teaching, I like watching college football (Go Card!), riding my bike (much slower than the other fourth grade teacher), and having fun in the mountains.

Travis Ostrom, 4th Grade Teacher

Mr Ostrom, also known as Mr. O,  will be going into a new role as the 4th grade literacy teacher.  Previously, Mr. Ostrom worked for DGS in the roles of Internal Substitute and a kindergarten Student Mentor.  Mr. O. has a background in experiential education with a prior career as an Outward Bound Instructor, leading wilderness expeditions with a focus on character development, Leadership, and Service.  He likes to get his education from colleges with the initials UCD, with a bachelors degree in poetry from the University of California,  Davis and a masters degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver. Outside of school, his affinity for being active and fit is most often expressed through playing ice hockey and racing bikes, but he also led the DGS staff softball team in homeruns last fall. 

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!

Liz Pattison, Internal Substitute

As an advocate of environmental sustainability and service learning, I am delighted to be working at the Denver Green School! I was born and raised in Littleton, Colorado and received my B.S. in Psychology from the University of Denver. During my time there, I participated in service-learning projects both locally in Denver as well as internationally. After graduation, I joined the Peace Corps and hopped a plane to Guatemala, where I worked as an environmental impact specialist and taught English and environmental awareness in elementary classrooms. Among the many amazing take-aways from that experience, I learned that I had a passion for teaching. It was my time in Guatemala that set me on my path as an educator. I am very excited to be joining DGS this year and to have the opportunity to create transformative change as part of an amazing team that is dedicated to engaging learners and preparing them to be leaders of the future.