Mary Abbott, Counselor
When I graduated from college my dream was to work in the criminal justice system. I was fortunate to get a job as a clerk for a District Court Judge with the 18th Judicial District where I worked for 2 years. From there I moved to the District Attorney’s office where I was a legal assistant for 2 years but realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to continue my education but in what? The most influential person in my life was my high school counselor and that is what propelled me to get my masters in school counseling. Before I joined the amazing staff at CEC I worked at Denver North High School for 2 years. I am blessed with an amazing husband and two wonderful kids who are in elementary school. I love CEC Early College, students have the opportunity to DO SOMETHING REAL with their education both career and college. In my free time I enjoy running and have completed two marathons!
Santo Alvarez, Business
Mr. Alvarez began teaching at CEC in 2012. Born and raised in Denver, he graduated from Mullen High School and received both his Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Master’s Degree in Education from Regis University. As a passionate businessman Mr. Alvarez also works as marketing consultant for small businesses and is currently in the process of starting his own company. During his free time Mr. Alvarez enjoys playing sports and coaching his 11-year-old son Isaiah.
Silvia Amaro, Secretary II
Sean Aronson, Math Intervention
Sean Aronson teaches the art of math because he loves to share the reasoning, elegance, wonder, and history of it. With an engineering background he naturally incorporates the practical utility of math as well. Sean is also proficient in Spanish and juggling. Sean learned Spanish while living and working in Guadalajara, México. He is married and has two children that are being raised bilingual. In his free time, Sean can be found making his shave soap (León Shave Puck), working in his vegetable garden, repairing and riding bikes, or camping with his family.
Dan Balan, CTE Resource Specialist
Dan Balan is a Career and Technical Education Resource and Postsecondary Development Specialist at the CEC Early College. He is originally from Salem, Ohio and attended Salem High School. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Education from Kent State University. He started at CEC in 2004 and enjoys helping students map out their futures and explore college and career options. In his spare time, he enjoys antique and historical collecting, auto repair and art collecting.
Denise Bergin, Paraprofessional/Tutor
Denise Bergin is a Paraprofessional and Tutor at the CEC Early College. She is originally from Miami Beach Florida and graduated from high school in Key West. She earned her Bachelor degree in Behavioral Sciences at Loretto Heights College in Denver. She also earned graduate credits in Health Education at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Bradley Birnbaum, Math/Science
Hi! Thank you for welcoming me to CEC Early College. I have lived in Colorado my entire life, and I still spend a lot of time in my hometown of Golden, Colorado. I graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2003, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry. For the past 10 years I have worked as a microbiologist in the organ and tissue donation industry. I have recently completed the University of Colorado-Denver Urban Teacher program. I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, camping and playing all kinds of sports, and I love to listen to music. I’m looking forward to working with our students and families, and ensuring that all students succeed and reach their full potential.
Charity Butler, Health Science
This is Ms. Butler’s 15th year in teaching and she teaches 9th grade Intro to Medical Careers class. She graduated from Emily Griffith Opportunity School with her Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certificate in 1995. She worked in the dental field for 3 years before becoming a dental assisting instructor in 2000. Since that time she has completed her BA in communications from Regis University. She is currently pursing her Master’s degree in Art Education with an area of concentration in Teaching the Linguistically Diverse. In her free time she enjoys traveling, shopping with friends, movies, and spending time with her family.
Tess Callinicos, School Nurse
Tess Callinicos is the school nurse for CEC. She has worked for DPS for the past 25 years. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and received her Graduate degree from CU Health Sciences Center. She is registered with the State Of Colorado as an Advanced Practice Nurse and has her certification as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She absolutely loves working with children of all ages. Her area of expertise lies in working with children with special needs.
Tess is the mother of twins and was raised in Wisconsin with eight brothers and sisters; six who are still alive and scattered across the United States. She remains close to her family and enjoys seeing them a couple of times a year.
Heather Carlton, Fitness Trainer
Chris Coble, Librarian
Chris Coble is the CEC librarian. Her goal is to help students with research or finding an awesome book to read. She attended Denver Public Schools including: Goldrick, Keppner and Lincoln High School. She earned a BA from CSU in Ft. Collins and a teaching certificate and Master of Arts from the University of Colorado at Denver. Chris believes that students at CEC are fortunate to attend a school with so many caring staff members and opportunities for learning and growing. Let her know what she can do to help you on the journey.
Julie Cruz, Front Desk Secretary
Gabriel DeAnda, Math
Mr. DeAnda is a 3rd generation Colorado Native. He attended JK Mullen High School, where he began to form his perspective on education. “There was a high expectation at Mullen not for grades, but for achievement, whether that was through education, athletics or service to the community and I appreciated that what I accomplished there went beyond my GPA,” says Mr. DeAnda.
Mr. DeAnda was recruited to attend the University of San Diego and earned All-American Honors for football. He earned a degree in Communication Studies and Economics. “The experience was transformative for me as a person, getting a chance to really be on my own and form who I was as a person. Athletics and Education shaped me into a person passionate about helping others reach their potential. I wanted to share the habits, skills, and experiences that helped me have mobility and freedom to attend college,” he says.
Although Gabe initially wanted to coach football, he realized through his coaching experience that there was more that he wanted to do. For him, the next step try teaching as well. He was drawn to mathematics because it was a subject he I loved in high school but was seeing such disdain for among his players. “There is beauty in math, I love the fact that there is a conclusion, there is a puzzle to solve and there is a solution to that puzzle, it is logical and true. I felt like that was the area that most of my athletes were being underserved and not being told the real point of learning math.”
Mr. DeAnda has been appreciative of starting his teaching career at CEC. More than any other high school he has been around, CEC values the CAREER application of education and not just what should be taught. This has been integral in forming his beliefs on education. He believes education is an opportunity to gain knowledge that can be used to support your family, solve problems and serve the community. Between the colleagues and our mission, he can’t imagine having found a better situation.
Mr. DeAnda is finishing his 4th year at CEC, which also marks the 4th year that he has been back in Colorado and the 4th year of marriage to his wife Courtney, who is also a teacher. Courtney teaches is Spanish, and will be starting a new position at DSST in the fall.
Dan Depinto, Counselor
Mr. DePinto grew up in North Denver and graduated from North High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State College in Mathematics. After graduating, he got a job teaching Math at North High School. While working at North he earned his Master of Arts degree in Counseling. He worked at North for 18 years before moving to CEC Middle College of Denver where he has worked for the last 10 years. He has three children and loves to watch them play their different sports. His hobbies are golf, tennis, spending time with family, and shuffling his kids to all their activities.
Alan Dominguez, Digital Film Production
Alan Dominguez has been teaching film/video production at CEC since 2009 after spending 12 years as a Spanish teacher in Denver Public Schools and elsewhere. He has shown films in over 50 film festivals on three continents and in three different languages. He received his BA in Spanish and History from the University of Denver, his Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico and received his film training at the New York Film Academy where he learned the craft from some of the most dynamic film instructors in the world. He was twice a finalist for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriting Lab before turning to documentary work. His filmmaking and studies have taken him to the highlands of Guatemala, the Pueblos of Northern New Mexico, and several times to the US-Mexico border region, among others. In addition to CEC, he continues to develop and produce film projects independently and for networks such as PBS and ESPN.
Frank Doyle, Math
Frank Doyle taught at Skinner Middle School and the Denver Center for International Studies before joining the CEC team. His experience includes all levels of math instruction from 6th grade to Pre-Calculus and MAT 050. The best part of teaching comes from seeing students develop their problem-solving skills to help them achieve their life goals.
During his free time, Mr. Doyle enjoys spending time with his partner and her teenaged son and daughter, his hunting dog, and time in the outdoors. Flyfishing, rafting, hunting, and travel around the USA and the globe are his main pursuits when not teaching math!
Gina Faliano, Preschool
My name is Gina Faliano, and I am the preschool teacher here at CEC. I hold a Bachelors degree in Human Development with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Metropolitan State University of Denver. I have been working with preschool aged children since 2003 and have been here at CEC Early Learning Academy since 2012. Outside of work I love to get outdoors, read, and create art. I love watching young minds rapidly grow and helping children become the best versions of themselves! My job could not be more FUN or rewarding. I hope to help CEC high school students in the Teaching Careers program develop a love of working with young children and am so thankful to be a part of CEC!
Liz Fant, Math
Ms. Fant teaches geometry at CEC. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Tulane University. She received her my master’s degree at Loyola University. She enjoys gardening, exercise, especially at Red Rocks, meditation and helping students do their best! She is grateful to teach at a school that helps students choose a career path.
Michael Farrimond, English/Social Studies
Mike Farrimond, English/Social Studies
Mr. Farrimond has been teaching Literature and Composition in Denver Public Schools in north Denver for nearly 20 years. Michael is inspired by the stories of his students’ lives, and enjoys working at CEC on the CCD campus. In his free time, Michael spends time outdoors with his two young boys and his amazing wife, Karen Radman, and bangs drums in his alt-rock cover band in local watering holes.
Larissa Fillingham, Social Studies
Ms. Fillingham has been teaching Social Studies at CEC since 2011. She studied History with a minor in Anthropology at the University of Northern Colorado, graduating with Honors in 2003. During college, she was selected as History Department Scholar two years in a row and was able to present her thesis titled “From Dissent to Approval: Rock Music in the USSR During the 1980s” at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and the Southwest Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference in 2003. After working in the service and hospitality industries for several years, she returned to school in 2009 to get her teaching certification at Metro State University, and student taught at CEC in the fall of 2010. During her time here at CEC, she has been Teacher Leader for Social Studies the past two years and the Google Champion for our school. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education at the University of Colorado-Denver (while taking the occasional history class), and aspires to get her doctorate in History Education in the future. As a teacher, her specialties are academic writing, technology (especially Google applications), and research. She has taught every Social Studies class offered at CEC: Civics, Economics, US History, and Geography, including AP courses.
Susan FitzWilliam, Architecture
Ms. FitzWilliam went to UC Denver for her graduate degree in architecture. She earned her architectural license in 1986 and worked in several Denver architectural firms. In 1999 she founded Fitzwilliam Architects, an architecture firm specializing in residential design and renovation. She joined CEC in 2004 to teach Architectural Technology. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of architecture with young people.
Steven Fling, Culinary Arts
Steven was born and raised in Denver Colorado and grew up in Denver Public Schools. Steven graduated from George Washington High School and attended CEC as a part time student in the culinary program. He ventured out to North Miami, Florida to attend Johnson and Wales University where he earned his Baking and Pastry degree with honors.
He has since moved back and been devoted to the culinary field. Steven was the Pastry Chef for such places as Micole, Bistro Vendome, Adega, California Café, Aspen Baking Company, and also spent about eight years in total with The Sweet Soiree and Le Petit Gourmet Catering Co.
In 2005 he got into teaching and has since learned to love and appreciate the joy of teaching young students who are interested in the same career that he has chosen.
Adam Florez, Auto
Lynda Freund, Medical Careers
I believe we are all interconnected and that life has an abundance of gifts to offer us all. I believe that compassion and love are the most powerful and important parts of life. I believe these come from education and deep understanding of people and the world. I teach the Nurse Aide and advanced Health Sciences program. I have been at CEC since 2006, following the completion of my Master’s of Divinity degree, which I pursued to better my hospice nursing understanding.
My strongest passion is empowering teenagers to become their very best selves and to stretch themselves beyond what they can even imagine is possible for themselves. This program brings every student way out of their comfort zones and into their growing zones where they find out just how much more there is to them than they ever imagined. I love watching students transform like this.
I still am a hospice nurse on weekends and summers because it lets me bring real nursing and medical scenarios back to the class and keep it relevant everyday. I love to spend time with my family, dance, hike our mountains, go to Scotland to visit family and explore the great human Spirit in us all.
Katie Gojara, Math/Science
Katie Gojara is originally from Colorado but grew up in Asia. She attended Colorado State University for her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and the University of Colorado Denver for her Master’s degree in Secondary Math & Science Instruction. She has taught for over 10 years in the Denver Public Schools and currently teaches Biology at CEC. She has also taught physics, chemistry, algebra and geometry. Katie enjoys teaching and learning about scientific discoveries and applying mathematical concepts. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, reading, and spending time with her family, dog, friends, and club students. She volunteers annually at Nan Desu Kan, the premier Rocky Mountain Region Anime convention, in Denver.
Anyel Groher ELA-S LA/SS
Anyel grow up in Southern Colorado and moved to Oregon for high school/college. She finished her BA there and moved back to begin teaching in 2009. She has taught a variety of age levels and enjoys sharing her passion for reading, writing, language, and social justice with students at all ages. She enjoys traveling, running and cooking. Her goals are to earn a Master’s degree, live in another country, and learn to coach others in nutrition/fitness.
Lynda Freund, Medical
Brandon Harrison, Social Studies
Rebecca Havekotte, Graphic Design
I was born in South Dakota and Moved to Denver when I was 3. I went to Golden High School and then on to Colorado State University. I earned a Degree in Graphic Design. During my college years I helped support myself by singing and playing the guitar in restaurants and bars. During 2 summers I went to Europe and Mexico to study. After College I moved to Aspen Colorado to Work at the Colorado Silver Company Making sculptural welded jewelry, and to ski and have fun. I allowed myself 2 and 1/2 years and then I was to get serious. I moved back to Denver and got a job working for Cascade Productions, a graphic design and production company. After a few years I decided to start my own business and continued doing graphic design and making jewelry. I continued that for 20 years. I then decided I wanted to teach High School Art. I attended Metro State in Denver and earned my Teacher Licence. I worked at Russell Elementary as an Art and Music Teacher for 7 years. I had my heart set on High School so I quit, and started taking Computer Graphics classes at Red Rocks. I took classes for a couple years and then they asked me to teach. I taught there for 3 years.
I also did freelance web design and digital graphics during that time period. When the position at CEC opened up I jumped on it. My dream job!
Jason Heberer, Math
Jason Heberer is new to CEC this year as an Algebra 1 and Geometry teacher. He is originally from Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he also received his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He moved to Denver and attended Metro State University to earn his teaching credentials.
In his free time, Mr. Heberer enjoys running, hiking, backpacking, reading and playing those silly “brain training” apps on his iPhone. He’s excited to be at CEC and decided to come to the school to teach at a high school with such amazing resources and opportunities to offer it’s students. He says, “There are hundreds of apparent answers to the question, ‘When will I ever use this’.”
Stacey Hervey, Forensics
Stacey Hervey grew up in the Longmont/Boulder area and attended Boulder High School, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Metro and CU Denver. She received a Bachelor degree in Sociology from Boulder, a teaching certificate from Metro, and from CU Denver received graduate degrees in Social Sciences and Forensic Science. Ms. Hervey enjoys teaching at CEC because it allows her to work in an authentic environment where students learn science skills through a career-based program.
Her hobbies include: doing Zumba exercise classes, running and reading. She is also an Adjunct Faculty member for Metro State College.
Gretta Hunjan, Special Education Teacher
Gretta Hunjan is a Denver native. She attended Stedman Elementary, Smiley Middle School and East High School, in DPS and went to college at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in Asian Studies. She also attended University of Colorado, Denver for her Dual teacher’s license in Social Studies and Special Education. At CEC this year, she will teach reading, writing and math intervention classes. “I am so excited to work at CEC because I am a huge fan of experience based learning and “Doing Something Real” in an educational setting. I can’t think of a better place to prepare students for success in college and career,” she says. In her spare time she loves to travel, read and learn as well as spend time with her husband, daughter and two dogs.
Ron Jolly, Audio Engineering
Before coming to CEC, Ron Jolly was a full time professional musician and music teacher. He was an adjunct professor at DU from 1979-1987 teaching Jazz Piano, Jazz Harmony, Beginning and Advanced Jazz Improvisation, and Jazz History. From 1987-2002, he taught Keyboard Musicianship and Composing and Arranging at CEC. He also leads the DPS Citywide High School Jazz Combo, known as the CEC Jazz Combo. Ron has played the piano for 48 years and has been very lucky in the music business. He’s played engagements from Hawaii to London, Montreal to Cabo San Lucas. He has performed with artists including James Taylor, Michael McDonald, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Pops Staples, Taj Mahal and many others on the etown radio show, heard on more than 300 radio stations in the U.S. Europe and Guam.
Mike Kelly, Auto
Molly Killorin, Auto
Ms. Molly Killorin grew up in south Denver and graduated from South High School. She is in her third year working at CEC as a support specialist/instructor in Automotive Technology. She also works for Schomp BMW, where she has been an automotive technician for the past nine years. She graduated from Arapahoe Community College with an Associate’s degree in Applied Sciences for Automotive Technology. Her hobbies are going to concerts, listening to music, art, camping, cars, being with family and friends and taking care of her students.
Emilee Knott, Sports Medicine
Emilee is coming to our school from Northern Arizona University, after working as an athletic trainer for the Volleyball and Men’s/Women’s Tennis teams. This is her first year as a teacher, but a native to Colorado. She obtained her Undergraduate Degree in Athletic Training at University of Northern Colorado, in Greeley and her Masters in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University. She loves teaching others about her love for athletic training, and sports in general. She looks forward to inspiring other students to pursue a career in sports medicine.
In her free time she enjoys running, lifting, watching sports and doing anything outdoors. Family is a high priority for her, and after getting engaged this summer she is looking forward to her wedding this Spring 2017.
David Mack, Biomedical Sciences
David Mack has been working at CEC since 2013, originally as the exercise science instructor and presently teaching the biomedical science program. After serving six years in the US Navy, David attended the University of California, San Diego where he graduated with a bachelors of Science degree with a major in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. He later graduated from San Diego State University with a Master’s of Public Health, specializing in Health Promotions. David enjoys science, mountain biking, back-country skiing, camping, cooking, organic gardening, and watching zombie movies.
Katherine McMann, Fashion
Ms. McMann graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Design. She received her teaching license through Western State College and my Career and Technical Education credentialing through Colorado State University. Her ongoing education has included classes in computer design, education, sewing, business, and ESL through- the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, and Emily Griffith Technical College.
In her early career, she worked as an assistant designer for two designers in Aspen before moving back to Denver. She managed a large fabric store and later a bridal alterations shop for eleven years before starting her own design business. She taught adult education at Emily Griffith Technical College for thirteen years before becoming a high school teacher.
In her spare time, she enjoys road biking, horseback riding, gardening, reading, home remodeling, quilting, and sewing. She is married and has three sons.
Marcee Medina, Student Advisor/Math
Marcee will split her time between the positions of Student Advisor and Math teacher. Medina was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from Arvada High school in 1990. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Metro State College of Denver in 1995 and earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix in June of 2001. She has taught many grade levels from remedial sixth grade through pre-calculus. She also works at a detention facility in the summer as a math teacher.
Michelle Montoya, Teaching Careers
“My mission is simple – to love deeply, to laugh wholeheartedly, to cry openly, and to ALWAYS try. Success doesn’t come easily; you have to push past self-doubt and continue to pick yourself up when you fall. In my life I will strive to become a part of something greater than me alone, and I will never forget the people who loved, pushed and inspired me. I’ll do my utmost to be sincere, to practice justice, self-respect and self-responsibility. With grit, love and determination on my side, I WILL succeed.”
Ms. Michelle Montoya is a Denver native and has been working in the Denver Public Schools for 18 years. She has had many roles and responsibilities throughout her career. Her favorite position is to be in the classroom, and her greatest strength is to be with students and to work with them as a facilitator. Ms. Montoya loves what she does! Ms. Montoya recently celebrated her 27th wedding anniversary. She has four beautiful and grown children, and is a grandmother. She loves sports, especially soccer and football, enjoys music and prefers it over any other type of entertainment. She also has her own business, selling antiques and collectable items as well as art from local area artists.
“I have been truly blessed and teaching has contributed immensely to my blessings, my students will always have a special place in my life and in my heart, I have learned from them as I know they have learned from me.”
Jennifer Moriarty, Video Game Programming
Originally from the Chicago region, Dr. Moriarty completed her B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began teaching math for Denver Public Schools in 2002 at Manual High School, and moved to CEC the following year. In 2007, she completed her M.Ed. in Educational Technology from Lesley University, and received her doctorate in Education from the University of Colorado-Denver in 2014. She currently teaches Video Game Programming at CEC.
Dr. Moriarty is an avid reader and gamer, and also enjoys the outdoors and playing piano. She doesn’t particularly like grown-ups, but enjoys teaching high school students and the company of her own close family. She thinks CEC is the best school in the world. Her favorite superheroes include Iron Man, Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, Ms. Frizzle, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Stephen Morgan, Advance Manufacturing
Kim Ochoa, Preschool Director
Ms. Kim Ochoa, is the the Preschool Director at CEC Early College. She graduated from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a degree in Behavioral Science and Early Childhood Education. She enjoys working with children ages 3 – 5 because they tell it like it is, and that is why she chose Early Childhood Education as her field.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking. Baking is a real passion of mine, and one of her favorite things to do is inviting people over to her house and cooking new recipes for them. She also enjoys reading Children’s Literature. She finds it satisfying to find new and unusual stories to share with the preschoolers.
She and her husband live in Westminster with their Cocker Spaniel – Buddy. They enjoy traveling, gardening, and relaxing with the dog.
Art Padilla, Welding
Although Mr. Padilla is technically a Montbello graduate, he was in the first full-time program at CEC from 1985 to 1989 taking both his core/academics at CEC as well as a being in the Auto Collision Repair and Paint program for the elective component the entire time. He moved into an apprenticeship in the automotive industry while still a student and continued in the industry after graduating. I have 28 years of Auto and Advanced Manufacturing experience and 19 years Teaching experience carrying both ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and AWS (American Welding Society) certifications. He has served as President of the Trades and Industry and was recipient of the CTE teacher of the year in 2013 for CACTE (Colorado Association of Career and Technical Education). His hobbies are auto customizing and restorations and art, implementing welding/fabrication and painting techniques.
Mr. Rapp was a professional Firefighter/EMT for over eleven years before being retiring following an on-the-job injury. During his career he worked for the Clark County (NV), West Metro (CO) and Colorado Springs (CO) Fire Departments.
Prior to the above professional departments, Mr. Rapp was a volunteer firefighter/EMT with Western Hills Fire Department near his home town of Greeley, Colorado.
Mr. Rapp has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from the University of Wyoming and has been teaching at CEC for over ten (10) years. Before Mr. Rapp was a firefighter, he worked as a cowboy, bartender, security guard, ditch digger, truck driver, postal carrier, deli manager, and several other less glamorous jobs.
Dan Ridgeway, Construction
Dan Ridgeway started working construction when he was seventeen and liked everything about it: working with tools, being outdoors, the sense of accomplishment, and being part of a crew. Not only did he learn the trade from the older carpenters, he earned a lot about life, how to act, and how to be a mature adult. He now feels a calling to pass on what he’s learned to the next generation and feels that the CEC Early College is the perfect place to make that happen.
Rebecca Rivera, Criminal Justice
Rebecca Rivera is a part-time Criminal Justice instructor for CEC early College. She previously worked in a Federal Prison and as a Senior Probation officer prior to leaving law enforcement to teach full-time. She earned a Master’s Degree concentrating on Domestic Violence crimes from the University of Colorado at Denver and is currently working on her Doctorate of Education at Creighton University. She is in the midst of her dissertation, researching evidence-based practices for post-secondary correctional education. Her teaching philosophy is to “Empower through education.”
She feels very fortunate to teach at CEC and looks forward to a successful year!
Crystal Zawodsky, Budget Manager
Derek Smith, Math/Science
My name is Derek Smith and the 2015-2016 school year will be my 6th year in education. I graduated from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis with my B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Basically, I took every class they offered about the brain and behavior. Before deciding on education, I thought I wanted to be a neuroscientist. I worked at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis for three years. The neuroscience lab examined the toxic effects that certain chemicals have on the developing brain. After learning a lot and rubbing elbows with some really smart people, I decided that although the research was fascinating, I found that grant writing and research was not the career I wanted. So for the last three years I was a coach and a science teacher at Jefferson R-7 High School. I have taught the following courses: Biology, Honor’s Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science. I was the 7th grade boys basketball coach for one year, and a varsity football coach for three where I coached defensive backs and running backs.
My wife and I moved to Lexington Kentucky so Sarah could attend graduate school at the University of Kentucky. While in Lexington, I worked at Lexington Catholic High School, and witnessed a great staff and great students. I worked there for two years and will miss the staff and students at LC! I look forward to teaching physics at CEC Early College.
When I’m not teaching or lesson planning what do I do? I am a rugby enthusiast; I have been playing for about 5 years for a rugby club in Saint Louis. Two summers ago (2014) I went to Mexico to play with my old club from St. Louis! (Pictures above) When I am not playing rugby, you can catch me hiking, camping, or mountain biking. My wife, Sarah, and I love to travel and we travel as much as our budget allows. While in Mexico, we traveled to Chichen Itza which was a large city for the Mayan civilization and one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World(see picture above). Also, Sarah and I went to Peru to see the Inca ruins and the summit of Machu Picchu (also another wonder of the Modern World)!
Bennett Spann, ELD/LA
Bennett Spann, relentless scholar, dynamic athlete, and citizen of the world, has been an English teacher since 2004 and has worked in a range of public, private, and international schools. Born just outside of New York City and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr. Spann has a passion for the New York Giants as well as a fondness for vinegar-based pulled pork barbecue and slow, Southern drawls. After beginning college as an Animal Science major at The University of Kentucky, Bennett switched majors and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. He went on to attain his Masters in English Literature with a focus on 20th Century American fiction from the University Virginia.
After graduate school, Mr. Spann moved to Quito, Ecuador where he taught at The International School of Quito, traveled around South America, and met his future wife, Diana Quezada. After four years abroad, he and his wife moved to Atlanta, GA where they both taught at The Lovett School. In 2012, they moved to Denver where Mr. Spann taught Middle School English and Spanish for two years at Bryant Webster. Happy to return to high school, Mr. Spann continues to develop and share his passion for literature and his love of all things popular culture. When not teaching, Mr. Spann enjoys hiking with his dog, playing basketball, skiing, reading, writing, cooking, fishing, watching movies, and listening to music.
Johanna Staple, IEP Case Manager, WES Coordinator
Johanna Staple has been a special education teacher in DPS since 2006. She has graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Political Science, the University of Southern California with a Masters of Business Administration and University of Colorado Denver with a Masters of Arts in Special Education. Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Staple worked as a management consultant, advising businesses on strategy development and operational efficiency. She has experience in the healthcare, banking and business services industries. Ms. Staple grew up in Southern California, and in her free time enjoys spending time at the beach or pool, playing tennis and hiking, as well as reading and watching movies.
John Walker, Pro Tech Specialist
Patricia Wilson, Culinary Arts
Trish Wilson, is the first female to captain in a 5-star restaurant in Colorado—Cliff Young’s for those who remember and Noel Cunningham’s Strings to name a few.
Chef Trish thrives as she re-focuses lives toward the world of catering and restaurant management. Coming from a long line of chefs. Trish pursued a degree in restaurant and business management from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
The North Denver native is a 4th generation Coloradan! In fact, her great, great Grandfather was Kit Carson’s scout!
Before coming to CEC she ran a culinary program at Excelsior Youth Center High School. The center is the biggest in the United States for troubled and abused teens.
At CEC she concentrates on front-of–the–house skills including customer service, new technology with point of sales registers, marketing money management, table side cooking, catering and fundraising and etiquette.
“It makes me feel right working with our students,” she says. “I have to be here! They’re giving me themselves and they expect me to he here. I discovered early on that they can do anything.”
Ben Yoder, Math
Ben Yoder is originally from Columbus, Ohio and received his undergraduate degree from the Indiana University and a Masters in Supervision and Administration from the University of Phoenix. He has been at CEC for 12 years and teaches two math courses: Financial Algebra and Math 050. His favorite thing about CEC is that students can obtain a relevant education that they can apply immediately upon gradation. In his spare time he enjoys basketball, biking, camping, poker, volunteering at Red Rocks Amphitheater and spending time with his wife and three daughters. He also owns and manages a residential real estate company, Home Logic Reality.