Special Education Teachers
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 ten years and have worked in DPS in different capacities for the past eight. 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. I feel truly lucky to work at the Denver Green School which fosters an incredibly inclusive environment for students with different needs. I am constantly inspired by our gifted staff and enthusiastic students. In my free time, I enjoy reading, rooting on our local sports teams, and, of course, spending time in our beautiful mountains.
Heidi Kinsella, MILD MODERATE SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER
Hello! I’m extremely grateful to join the talented and fun DGS primary team as the special education teacher.. After having taught special education for 10 years at a Denver youth treatment center and in Jeffco schools, I took several years off of full-time teaching to focus mostly on raising my three children. Most recently, I have enjoyed teaching adults in the school of Education at Regis University, and I also taught special education at Highline Academy. I find absolute joy working with students to find their learning styles and strengths in order to reach their potential. Outside of work, I love being with my family, and I enjoy being active by jogging, practicing in yoga, hiking, and snowboarding. I am also greatly looking forward to participating in active learning opportunities outdoors with my DGS students.
Maren Jorgensen, MIDDLE SCHOOL MILD MODERATE SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER
I am originally from Davenport, Iowa but have lived in Denver for 15 years. I have been working as a special education teacher in Denver Public Schools for seven years and love teaching supporting students and their families. I received my Bachelor's degree from Colorado Christian University in 2004 and went to work in the non-profit sector for five years before going back to school to get my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. I received my teaching license and special education credentials through the Denver Teacher Residency and DU. When I am not teaching, I love hiking, camping, or fishing in the mountains with my Great Pyrenees, Baxter. I love the mission and vision of the Denver Green School and am thrilled to be a part of this amazing staff and community.
Colleen Washburn, Autism Teacher
I am thrilled to be entering my second year at Denver Green School as a teacher in the Autism Center Program. I grew up in Michigan and attended Albion College where I obtained my BA in Speech Communications. I then attended Rutgers School of Law - Camden where I earned my JD and continued to practice law in Philadelphia and New Jersey. After spending time volunteer teaching throughout law school and in my legal career I decided to pursue my passion to become a special education teacher and moved to Colorado where I earned my MAT in Special Education from Metropolitan State. While my path to become a teacher may seem unorthodox it has made me a strong advocate and passionate teacher for my students. Outside of school I am an avid yogi, hiker and traveler.
EMILY COUSINS, AUTISM TEACHER 3-5
I am thrilled to be entering my sixth year at the Denver Green School and my fourth year as a lead teacher in the Autism Center. I grew up in Colorado, ventured out to Portland, OR to complete my B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Lewis & Clark College, and completed my Masters in Special Education from Metropolitan State University. I come from a family of educators and have worked with students with disabilities for almost ten years in both educational and community-based settings. When I am not teaching and taking classes, I enjoy yoga, hiking, or simply relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book. Through my close relationships with students I have learned an immeasurable amount about the power of empathy, self-acceptance, and determination. I cannot wait to spend another year growing as a learner and teacher at DGS!
Lana Von Tersch, Gifted and Talented
I currently work as the half-time Gifted and Talented Specialist at DGS. When I started teaching, I taught fourth and fifth grade for twelve years. I slowly was introduced into Gifted and Talented education when I was a classroom teacher and I pursued this path in education.
Teaching at DGS allows me the opportunity to work with students in all grade levels. I truly appreciate the enthusiasm that is brought along with all students that are eager to learn.
I am a native of Denver and I am also a graduate of Denver Public Schools. When I'm not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband and my son.
Amanda Knezovich, Math Interventionist
I am so excited to take on the role as our first Math Interventionist at Denver Green School. I love math and hope to bring that same passion into our students' lives. Last year, I made the move to Denver and took on a fourth grade math/science position in DPS. Before that, I taught outside of Chicago for three years in fourth grade and coached soccer at the local high school. I graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in Elementary Education (K-6) with an endorsement in middle school. When I'm not at school, I love playing and coaching soccer, being outdoors, trying new restaurants, and traveling! I look forward to what this year will bring.
Liz Pattison, Elementary School ELA Teacher
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. This year is my 4th year teaching at DGS, and 1st year as part of the ELA team. As an elementary English Language Acquisition (ELA) teacher, I am excited to support our English Language Learners as they grow their linguistic skills.
Liz Dawson, Elementary School ELA Teacher
As a Colorado native, I grew up playing outside and learning how to take care of my surroundings. After attending CU Boulder for a psychology degree and an elementary education certification (and for more outdoor play time), I decided to utilize my Spanish skills to teach in a bilingual 2nd grade classroom and adored fostering development in kids who were learning two languages simultaneously. It was my honor to be an advocate for Spanish-speaking families and to watch kids blossom as I received a certification to teach children learning a second language. I then taught in Englewood for three years and decided I wanted to return to DPS to focus on language development. I am thrilled to be at Denver Green school, where I can simultaneously teach ideals of sustainability in our beautiful state and utilize my passion for teaching English Language Learners every day. Go Dragons!
Paula Zendle, Middle School ELA Teacher
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by parents who relished academics and cultural activities. My childhood was filled with learning from books, musicals, and weekend international festivals. In high school, I enjoyed studying Spanish and participated in a family stay in Valencia, Spain. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, I worked in technology sales and marketing for IBM for thirteen years. When my children entered public schools, I began teaching after-school Spanish classes and volunteering to tutor a wide variety of learners. This experience motivated me to earn my Masters in Education. With my husband and children, I enjoy skiing, camping, and hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I have enjoyed teaching at Denver Green School for the last five years, and I look forward to inspiring another group of English Language Learners and dedicated readers at Denver Green School to love learning and to appreciate our natural surroundings."