Each member of our experienced Faculty is trained by one of the nation’s American Montessori Society-accredited training centers, holds a Bachelor’s degree, and often has further educational training or a Master’s degree. Classroom teachers have at least one Assistant, many of whom also have a Bachelor’s degree or are completing their Montessori internship. All teachers are committed to enhancing their professional development through workshops, classes, and special events.

Rachel Northrop, Director of Early Childhood Education, received her Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She completed her Montessori Primary teacher training at the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs, in Minnesota as well. Rachel has been a supervising teacher for the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). Rachel joined MSD in 2001. Email Rachel at rnorthrop@msd-co.org.

Mary Broeckling, Toddler Teacher, graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a teaching certification in art for Kindergarten through 12th grade from Columbia College. She received her AMS Infant/Toddler Credential from the Seton Montessori Institute in Illinois. Prior to joining MSD, Mary was a lead Toddler teacher at Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston, Illinois. She started her Montessori career in 2005 at Columbia Montessori School in Columbia, Missouri. Mary joined MSD in 2014. Email Mary at mbroeckling@msd-co.org.

Erin Murphy, Toddler Teacher, joined MSD in 2014. Erin took her Montessori teacher training at the Toddler level at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an Elementary Level Colorado State Teaching License. Email Erin at emurphy@msd-co.org.

Valene Rodriguez, Toddler and Early Toddler teacher, has extensive experience leading a Toddler Montessori classroom at Denver area schools, including a home-based education program that travels to pregnant mothers’ homes, transitional housing and homeless shelters to build parenting skills. Valene received her Montessori training from The Montessori Institute in Infancy/Toddler and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education Administration. Valene joined MSD in 2018. Email Valene at vrodriguez@msd-co.org.
Rachel Northrop, Director of Early Childhood Education, received her Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. She completed her Montessori Primary teacher training at the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs, in Minnesota as well. Rachel has been a supervising teacher for the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). Rachel joined MSD in 2001. Email Rachel at rnorthrop@msd-co.org.
Erin Bleichfeld, Primary Teacher, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology as well as two Master’s degrees, in both Social Work and Curriculum and Instruction. She went on to complete training and received both her Early Childhood and Lower Elementary credentials from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Erin joined the MSD community in 2019 after several years of teaching in public Montessori schools. Email Erin at ebleichfeld@msd-co.org.
Kelly Elio, Primary Teacher, joined MSD in 2010. Kelly completed her Primary Montessori training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and her internship at MSD. Kelly grew up in Colorado and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Metropolitan State College in Denver. Email Kelly at kelio@msd-co.org.

Christina Graham, Primary Teacher, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Masters of Science from Colorado State University in Interior Design with an emphasis on Museum Exhibit Design. She has her AMI Primary Montessori Credential from Montessori Casa International. Christina has worked at the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum in addition to her Montessori teaching experience. Email Christina at cgraham@msd-co.org.
Emily Kline, Primary Teacher and Faculty Representative on the MSD Board of Trustees, has her Montessori Early Childhood teaching credential from Montessori Teacher Academy in Indiana and holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education from Ball State University. Emily joined MSD in 2016 after leading her own Primary classroom at Bunche Montessori Early Childhood Center for three years, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Previous to that she worked as a Field Study Educator at the Mtendere Orphanage, Malawi, Africa, teaching special needs students and adults one-on-one, and assisting in literacy lesson plan development. Email Emily at ekline@msd-co.org.
Marissa Poole, Primary Teacher, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She completed her Montessori Primary teacher training at Northeast Montessori Institute at Gordon College in Beverly, Massachusetts. Marissa joined MSD in 2019 after leading her own Toddler and Primary classrooms at Kingsley Montessori School and Oak Meadow Montessori School - both in Massachusetts. Email Marissa at mpoole@msd-co.org.
Anne Hewetson, Director of Elementary Education, joined MSD in 1999 as a Lower Elementary classroom assistant. Since then, Anne worked in Lower Elementary as an intern and co-teacher for 12 years. Anne has a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Puget Sound and her Lower and Upper Elementary Montessori certification from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). Anne has served several terms as the Faculty Representative on the MSD Board of Trustees, was Lower Elementary team leader, and has led the Mentos program, our comprehensive teacher orientation program. She is certified in Responsive Classroom, All Kinds of Minds, 6+1 Traits of Writing, Orton Gillingham + Morphology, and DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). Anne supports MSD students and teachers in the Elementary program in curriculum integration and delivery, program enhancements, and student experience. She works closely with both the Middle School and Primary Level Leaders to ensure smooth student transitions between programs. Email Anne at ahewetson@msd-co.org.
Laura Arellano, Lower Elementary Teacher, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Psychology, with a minor in Spanish from the University of Denver, as well as a graduate certificate in Theology from Denver Seminary. Laura completed her Lower Elementary training from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2015. She previously worked at MSD as an Elementary Assistant/Intern for three years, followed by three years leading her own Montessori Lower Elementary classroom in the Denver area. She rejoined MSD as a teacher in 2019. Email Laura at larellano@msd-co.org.
Laura Goodrich, Lower Elementary Teacher, has recently returned from teaching in Queensland, Australia at Montessori International College in their Lower Elementary program. Laura has her Montessori teacher certification from Montessori Northwest in Washington and her Masters in Montessori Education from Loyola University. She wrote her thesis on the benefits of creative expression in children through metacognitive awareness and social behavior. She has significant experience working as a reading tutor in Texas and also as a sustainable gardener at World Wide Opportunities for Farming in California. Laura joined MSD in 2017. Email Laura at lgoodrich@msd-co.org.
Min Kim, Lower Elementary Teacher, is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology. She is Lower Elementary certified from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies and is fluent in English, Chinese, and Korean. Min has spent time working in Korea and Taiwan for an international education committee. Min joined MSD in 2007. Email Min at mkim@msd-co.org.
Ashley Lapham, Lower Elementary Teacher, has been teaching for 16 years and has diverse teaching experience in both public and private schools. She originally joined MSD in 2015 and taught for two years as a Lower Elementary Teacher before rejoining MSD in 2019. She has a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership from Regis University as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication and Bachelor of Science in Asian Studies from Western Michigan University. Additionally, she holds K-6 Teaching Licenses for both Colorado and California and obtained her Lower Elementary Credentials from Montessori Teacher Education Center San Francisco Bay Area. Ashley is passionate about developing an inclusive environment and engaging students in social emotional learning, community service, and environmental stewardship. Email Ashley at alapham@msd-co.org.
Reghan Lusk, Upper Elementary Teacher, joined us in 2018 from Montessori Peaks Academy in Littleton, where she has been leading her own Upper Elementary classroom for the past two school years. Reghan came to MSD first for the World Peace Game training and camp that we were proud to facilitate last summer. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Reghan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and is Montessori certified at both the Lower and Upper Elementary levels from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Email Reghan at rlusk@msd-co.org.
Christine Putnam, Upper Elementary Teacher, joined MSD in 2016. Christine has a Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from the College of William and Mary, and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and minor in English from Albion College in Michigan. She received her Lower and Upper Elementary credentials from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR). Christine holds a K-6 Colorado Teacher License and previously taught at a classical charter school. Prior to becoming an educator, Christine worked in film and television production. Email Christine at cputnam@msd-co.org.
Alison Silver, Lower Elementary Teacher, has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Art's degree in Elementary Education. She is American Montessori Society (AMS) Montessori Credentialed, Lower Elementary Level. Alison has previous experience teaching second grade for many years. Although Alison has been very involved in the MSD community for several years as a parent, she joined our community as a teacher in 2014. Email Alison at asilver@msd-co.org.
Annie Springer, Upper Elementary Teacher, has a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theatre from Tulane University. Annie holds an International Montessori Teaching Diploma in Upper Elementary Instruction from the North American Montessori Center, British Columbia. She also completed the Friends School Teacher Preparation Program, earning her Colorado State Teaching License in Elementary Education. Annie worked on designing the Middle School program curriculum and was the Middle School Language Arts Teacher at MSD for two years. Annie joined MSD in 2011. Email Annie at aspringer@msd-co.org.
Jennifer Straus, Upper Elementary Teacher, joined MSD in 2003. She is a graduate of Colorado State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany. She also holds an International Montessori Teaching Diploma from the North American Montessori Center, British Columbia. Her experience prior to MSD includes her work as an environmental science education officer for schools in Jamaica, West Indies. Email Jennifer at jstraus@msd-co.org.
Devon Warn, Lower Elementary Teacher, has 11 years of Montessori teaching experience, and is Montessori Early Childhood and Montessori Lower Elementary trained. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts and Humanities. Building on her strong belief for Montessori methods, she collaborated in establishing a Montessori school in mountainous Nepal. Having lived overseas, Devon fosters her students global perspective through experiential activities and song. She looks forward to making every class joyous; igniting the curiosity, independence and responsibility of each of her students through meaningful work; and motivating the young minds of the future. Devon joined MSD in the spring of 2019. Email Devon at dwarn@msd-co.org.
Carrie Ross, Director of Middle School Education and History Teacher, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and Social Sciences from Colorado State University. Carrie holds a Montessori Secondary I and II Credential through the American Montessori Society. She has experience teaching Middle School and has nearly completed her 6-12 Colorado State Teaching certificate. Carrie is an enthusiastic and accomplished equestrian. She joined MSD in 1996 and spent several years as the Assistant Business Office Manager until she joined the Middle School team in 2015. Email Carrie at cross@msd-co.org.
Blake Johnson, Middle School Math Teacher, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Studies (Education, Psychology, and Business) from Winston Salem State University and his Upper Elementary certification from North American Montessori Teaching Center. Blake has taught at both the Upper Elementary and Middle School levels at Washington Montessori Public Charter School for the past five years and has found his sweet spot working with Middle School students in the area of Mathematics. Blake joined MSD in 2018. Email Blake at bjohnson@msd-co.org.
Jillian Linares, Middle School Language Arts Teacher, has a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, Bachelor’s in Education, and a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Connecticut. She is originally from Queens, NY and has previous teaching experience in a Denver Public School, Guamani Private School in Puerto Rico, a 6-12 school in London, and middle schools throughout Hartford, Connecticut. Jillian is an author, athlete, and musician and strives to be a lifelong learner by challenging these passions. She published her first book in 2018, “I Ran Away to Find Myself,” competes in and coaches volleyball, and plays guitar, saxophone, and drums. Jillian joined the MSD community in 2019. Email Jillian at jlinares@msd-co.org.
Joel Richardson, Middle School Science Teacher, has a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a Masters of Education in Elementary Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from the University of Denver. His previous teaching experience includes working at Washington Montessori, a public Montessori charter school in North Carolina, where he taught science, history, and writing, and also served as the Athletic Coordinator for students ages three to fourteen years. Joel worked as a Counselor at Keystone Science School, a place well-loved by MSD’s Upper Elementary program, delivering their well-regarded science curriculum out in the field. Joel officially joined MSD in 2016. Email Joel at jrichardson@msd-co.org.
Magdalena Ortega Neri, Third Grade through Middle School Spanish Teacher, Director of Specials, and Faculty Representative on the MSD Board of Trustees, has a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology, with a Minor in German from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Magdalena joined MSD in 2007. Prior to MSD, she worked as an English and German Teacher at the Técnologico de Monterrey and the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas in her hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico. Magdalena has experience in a public dual-language Montessori program, as well as with Spanish curriculum design. She is passionate about curriculum integration – believing that language should be taught in a meaningful context with a cultural understanding. Email Magdalena at mortega-neri@msd-co.org.
Chris Bangs, Physical Education Teacher, joined MSD in 2007. He graduated from Union College in New York with the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Chris is also a Certified Massage Therapist and an avid outdoor enthusiast. Chris attended a Montessori school when he was young. Email Chris at cbangs@msd-co.org.

Serge Fedorowsky, Librarian, joined MSD in 2019. He received his Bachelor of Science in English, Film & Media Studies, and Music from Ripon College in Wisconsin and obtained his Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Denver. As a librarian, Serge has worked in public, academic, and private libraries in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Ohio. He is excited to bring his passion for learning and educational growth to the school. Email Serge at sfedorowsky@msd-co.org.
Laura Kruegel, Music and Theater Teacher, joined MSD in 2018. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance from CU Boulder and then attained her Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. Laura has been working in New York City for the past three years with students aged 3-14 as a theater teacher and music director. She helped create the curriculum for yearlong company programs at Brooklyn Acting Lab among others and has worked internationally in China, Guatemala, Russia, and Australia. Laura has strong experience directing children’s musical theater, as well as working with children to write and create their own theatrical and musical work. Email Laura at lkruegel@msd-co.org.
Elaina Pignelot, Art Teacher, has a degree in Art with minors in French, Dance, and Interdisciplinary Arts from Gonzaga University. Having grown up as a Waldorf student, she taught at a Waldorf school before coming to MSD in 2017, where she worked as an assistant in Classroom 10. She shined when teaching art history and led art projects with the students in her classroom and is excited to begin her work with all of the students, K-8, at MSD. Elaina brings a passion for helping every child find artistic expression. Email Elaina at epignolet@msd-co.org.
Molly Tronco, Toddler through Second Grade Spanish Teacher, grew up in Denver and received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature and International Business from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. After giving restaurant management a try, she realized that working with children was her true passion and joyfully brought her talents and wonderful nature with her to MSD in the spring of 2018. She jumped right into the groove in our Spanish program laying the important groundwork with the younger Spanish speakers. Email Molly at mtronco@msd-co.org.
Lexi Fickenscher, Urban Farm Manager, graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and has a Masters of Public Health with a focus in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Oregon Health and Sciences University. She owns her own urban farm, Potter Highlands Produce, and before that she helped to create and run Duo Urban Farm that exclusively supplied produce to Duo Restaurant. Lexi volunteered to help start the Urban Farm and officially joined the MSD Staff in 2016. Email Lexi at lfickenscher@msd-co.org.
Caleb Gruber, MSD's Vertical Farmer, has a BS in Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in sustainability from the University of Colorado and a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Koanga Institute in New Zealand. Caleb has a background in hydroponic and aquaponics farming, and experience in outdoor organic market gardening, community supported architecture (CSA), seed-saving, and permaculture. Before joining MSD in 2017, Caleb worked as a farmer at the GrowHaus, a non-profit urban greenhouse supporting the low-income neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea, and as a garden hand at Dart Farms in Berthoud, CO. Email Caleb at cgruber@msd-co.org.
Joo Ree Chu, School Psychologist, serves all program levels at MSD. Joo Ree received her Ed.S. and M.A. in School Psychology from the University of Minnesota and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carleton College. Prior to joining MSD in 2017, Joo Ree worked for the Twin Cities School District for five years. In addition, she has extensive experience in supporting Asian adoptee groups, youth leadership organizations, and student culture clubs. In her previous work with schools, Joo Ree has demonstrated a student-centered approach, which is supported by her commitment to building strong school-family partnerships. She has extensive experience in conducting and interpreting student evaluations, implementing literacy support, providing social-emotional programming, and systematizing professional development. Email Joo Ree at jrchu@msd-co.org.
Dr. Sarah Hraha, Director of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), joined MSD in 2019. Sarah received her PhD in Clinical Psychology and M.A. in Counseling from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL and her B.A. in Education from National-Louis University in IL. She is Montessori certified at both the Lower and Upper Elementary levels. Prior to joining MSD, Sarah was the Director of Emotional Intelligence at the Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, CA. Before that she worked at both the Montessori Academy of Chicago and Fox Valley Montessori as their SEL Program Curriculum Developer and as a Professional Development Facilitator at the Leport Schools, San Diego, CA. Sarah works with Middle School students in forum, health, and on other SEL needs that arise throughout the year, as well as supports the weekly Upper Elementary groups, and the Lower Elementary targeted social groups with Joo Ree. Email Sarah at shraha@msd-co.org.
Tori Virlee, Literacy Specialist, joined MSD in 2015. Tori is a Montessori certified Primary teacher and has a BA in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences from Metropolitan State University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of School Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver. Tori has worked in Montessori schools since 2008 serving various roles from Primary teacher, to Academic Director and in schools from Denver to Albania. During her summers, Tori works with the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies training future Montessorians. Email Tori at tvirlee@msd-co.org.
Julie Bragdon, Head of School, has dual Primary Montessori certifications from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies (MECR) and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities with a minor in Art History from the University of Colorado (Boulder), and a Master of Education degree with an emphasis in Montessori Education from Xavier University. She has served as a field consultant, supervising teacher, and course instructor at MECR, and is a current member of the American Montessori Society (AMS) Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, currently serving as Vice President. She has presented numerous times at the AMS and National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Annual Conferences and served as an accreditation consultant for both organizations. Julie joined MSD in 1993 as a Primary Intern and was a lead teacher in the All Day Primary Program from 1997-2005. She then worked as the Director of Primary Education, before becoming the Assistant Head of School in 2009. Julie became MSD's Head of School in 2018. Email Julie at jbragdon@msd-co.org.
Casey Campbell, Director of Facilities, joined MSD in 2018. Before coming to MSD, Casey worked for 10 years at the Museum of Contemporary Art as their Facilities Manager where he was responsible for the day-to-day building operations and maintenance of the museum. Casey has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Metropolitan State College of Denver and an upcoming show of his work in California. His background in Mixed Media/Fine Art and accompanying knowledge of the creative process in art and design has supported his thoughtful care of our Montessori environment. Email Casey at ccampbell@msd-co.org.
Lydia Desmarais, Director of Human Resources and Auxiliary Programs, joined MSD in 2002. Lydia attended Plymouth State College in New Hampshire and served in the United States Army. Prior to working at MSD, Lydia worked for a children’s publishing company. Email Lydia at ldesmarais@msd-co.org.

Tara Gehrke, Director of Admission, joined MSD in 2005. Tara graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Tara is an experienced Fourth Grade teacher as well as an experienced Administrative Assistant. She also works collaboratively with the other ACIS Admission Directors throughout the school year and looks forward to placing MSD graduates in high schools of their choice. Email Tara at tgehrke@msd-co.org.
Linder Gendron, Assistant Director of Admission, joined MSD in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Family Life Education-Child Development, as well as a Master of Arts degree from Lewis University in Organizational Leadership-Training and Development. Linder has over 10 years of higher education experience and speaks fluent Cantonese Chinese. Email Linder at lgendron@msd-co.org.
Dagmar Haberkorn, Business Manager, joined MSD in 2013. Dagmar graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Accounting. Dagmar has over 20 years working and volunteering in nonprofits including the Colorado Ballet. Email Dagmar at dhaberkorn@msd-co.org.

Kindra Headrick, Director of Communications, holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education from Arapahoe Community College. Prior to joining MSD, she worked as a nanny for six years. She started at MSD as an assistant in the MSD classrooms. Aside from communications, Kindra also coordinates MSD’s After School Enrichment Program. She joined MSD in 2003. Email Kindra at kheadrick@msd-co.org.

Nicole Kimball, Staff Accountant, joined MSD in 2018. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Accounting and Business Administration from Coe College. She also has experience working with the non-profit, Gems of Hope. Email Nicole at nkimball@msd-co.org.

Bryce Peatman, Manager of Campus Safety & Security, received his B.S. in Natural Resource Regulation and Enforcement. This degree required extensive coursework in policing and criminal justice, as well as an in-depth understanding of psychology. He has certifications in Emergency Medical Response, certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute in Introduction to Incident Command System, and training from the Lakewood Police Department in Oleoresin Capsicum Aerosol Projectors and Armament Systems and Procedures focused on Baton. Bryce worked at MSD from January 2015 – January 2018 and rejoined us for the 2019 school year. Email Bryce at bpeatman@msd-co.org.

Ashley Randle, Office Manager, joined MSD in 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English-Film Studies from Colorado College, Colorado Springs. Ashley has experience working for nonprofits, as she previously worked at Rocky Mountain PBS and the Tim Gill Center for Public Media. Email Ashley at arandle@msd-co.org.

Donte Turner, Receptionist, joined MSD in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from the University of Colorado (Boulder). Email Donte at dturner@msd-co.org.


Montessori School of Denver
1460 South Holly Street
Denver, CO 80222
Phone 303-756-9441


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Montessori School of Denver
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Accredited by the Association of Colorado
Independent Schools and the
American Montessori Society*

*Accredited with non-traditional Montessori age groupings