New Summit
Building a safe educational community that emphasizes a love of learning, and inspires and empowers students to reach New Summits.
Staff Directory

Staff Directory


Mrs. Kimberly McClelland

Kim McClelland is a native of Colorado Springs and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, including an emphasis in Elementary Education. Kim holds a Masters in Education, Leadership and Administration from Jones International University. She has worked as a teacher or principal in all levels of education from Pre-K through High School throughout her career in education with over 20 years of experience in education.

McClelland served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Digital BOCES in Colorado and founded the organization in 2013.  Formerly, she served for 4 years as the Zone Superintendent of the iConnect Zone in Falcon district 49 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has created and led innovative programs in the state of Colorado that reaches out to all types of high-quality school programs from, Charter schools, homeschool programs, alternative education programs, credit recovery, summer school, and to thriving online and blended learning schools. McClelland has created an opportunity for every student in Colorado to have access to online and blended learning options. Kim serves as the Executive Director/Principal of New Summit Charter Academy. 

While serving as the iConnect Zone’s superintendent in District 49, McClelland earned a national award for innovation and transformation in education and has been a speaker for the District Administration Leadership Institute, EdWeek, Colorado Blended, and Online Learning conference, and other districts throughout the country. She has served on a statewide committee to support authorizers for the Colorado league of charter schools and NACSA and served on state-level legislative commissions for online and blended learning. McClelland is a strong proponent for school choice, and online and blended learning recognizing the enormous benefits and providing options for all families and students while preparing students for a successful post-secondary pathway. 

Kim’s passion for education and school choice has led her to go back to a school role as an Executive Director and Principal of a charter school at New Summit Charter Academy.

Mrs. Jennifer Reissig

Jennifer Reissig has lived in Colorado Springs for 34 years. As a student, she attended K-12 in Academy School District 20. She received her B.A. Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Elementary Education and a Minor in Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in 2001. Teaching has always been a passion for Jennifer, which led her to teach 1st grade for 3 years at Roosevelt-Edison Charter School and 2nd grade for 9 years at The Classical Academy.  Jennifer brings 12 years of experience and involvement in Charter Schools to NSCA.

Mr. John Coppin

John, a born and raised southern Florida transplant, has called Colorado his home since 1994. After receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice he decided it was time to move on and head west. John’s background includes several years, as a firefighter in Broward County Florida, as well as a private investigator in both the State of Florida and the State of Colorado. John also spent nearly 25 years in the insurance industry, as a national catastrophe adjuster with State Farm Insurance, as well as an insurance agent with American Family Insurance. John and his wife, Tina, recently celebrated 21 years of marriage and have an amazing 16-year-old son named Colin. John enjoys all outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, metal detecting, camping, RVing, vacationing…and spending time with family and friends.

Leadership & Support Team

Mrs. Cortnie Wise

Cortnie is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado and also a Licensed School Counselor. She joined New Summit in our first year after owning her own private practice for 7 years where she specialized in trauma, EMDR, adoption, and at-risk children and teenagers.

Prior to that, she worked with at-risk teenagers in Residential Treatment. Cortnie brings years of clinical expertise to New Summit along with her passion for interventions within the educational system. She moved into school counseling so that she could do more preventative work and make an impact with kids on a larger scale. She has been working with and counseling children and adolescents since 2005.

She has a Bachelors Degree from The University of Colorado and a Masters Degree from Colorado Christian University. Cortnie is passionate about equipping children with skills of resiliency, emotional coping, and the ability to overcome hardships in life.

She also loves to support the teachers in gaining the skills and insight needed to work with kids who may be struggling in the classroom due to emotional hardship, trauma, or behavior. Cortnie works to provide children, teachers, and parents with support and the emotional tools and interventions needed to reach success!

Mrs. Amanda Roderick
Amanda is a Colorado Springs native.  She graduated from Wasson High School and went to college at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, CO. Amanda is married to her high-school sweetheart, Gregg, and they have two boys who attend New Summit Charter Academy; Waylon is in 1st Grade and Brantley attends Diakonia Pre-K! 
Amanda received an Associates Degree in Professional Photography from Colorado Mountain College in 2008 and has operated her photography business as a hobby since then.  She returned to college in 2017 to complete her Associates Degree in Business Administration from Pikes Peak Community College and will graduate in May of 2020. 
Amanda has worn a lot of different hats with her career in the past. After graduating from college in 2008, she began working for a local home-builder in their accounting department.  When the housing market took a down-turn, she began working for El Paso County Department of Transportation in the Highway Department working in the Sign Shop. In this career, she obtained her Class A Commercial Driver’s License and began driving everything from dump truck to a snowplow!  After deciding to focus more on her family and her own businesses, Amanda became a work-from-home mom, which didn’t last long! 
Amanda and Gregg became very involved with New Summit and helping to get the school established.  Amanda is a volunteer at New Summit, along with operating her 3 side-businesses; AJH Photos (photography), Aunt Mandy’s Designs (quilting and sewing), and Mandy Jean’s Sweet Eats & Treats (homemade jams, jellies & other treats!).  As a Founding Family of New Summit, Amanda is extremely excited to be a part of such an amazing group of dedicated education rock stars!
Mrs. Maureen Hilborn
Mrs. Kathryn Sneed

Kathryn was born and raised in beautiful New England and left to go to college in Florida, where she took 3 years of credits in Elementary Education. It was those years that solidified her passion for high-quality education opportunities for students of all ages.

She is married to Jonathan and has been a military spouse as long as she has been married (almost 11 years). Together, they have 2 kids, Adam and Elizabeth who both go to New Summit. Kathryn and her family fell in love with the idea of New Summit Charter Academy in 2016 and while determined to help make the dream a reality, became a founding family of the school.
Kathryn has been a writer for 10 years at Singing Through the Rain as well as a freelance writer for many other websites and publications. She is also the author of Journey Through Deployment, a book for military spouses. Because of her writing, Kathryn fell in love with marketing, social media, website design, and search engine optimization (SEO). She worked as a freelance social media manager, as well as a virtual assistant for four years before joining New Summit as the Communications Coordinator.
In her spare time, Kathryn loves spending time with family, making new friends, watching old movies, and drinking way too much coffee!
Mrs. Sharon Begin

Sharon is a native of Richmond, Virginia who moved to Colorado Springs in June 2017 with her husband, two children, and two cats. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Religion as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nursing. She is a licensed advanced practice nurse and has been a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005.

Sharon has experience in family practice, cardiology, and emergency medicine. She also taught religion to 1st and 2nd graders for a year and worked as a night nurse at a boarding school for girls. She got went into nursing after being impacted by the deep needs of children in Romanian orphanages where she had been many times to provide humanitarian aid. She has also traveled to Haiti and to El Salvador to provide medical care for the communities there.

Sharon’s favorite part of being a nurse practitioner is the relationships she is able to develop with her patients and their families. She looks forward to getting to know the children at New Summit as the school nurse and helping to make sure they are physically, mentally and emotionally ready to learn.

Mrs. Stacie Stoddard

Stacie was born in Savannah, Georgia, raised in Atlanta. She was a military spouse and traveled often until she settled down with her family in Atlanta, Georgia. She then attended Kennesaw State University where she received her B.A. in Elementary Education PK – 5. Stacie began her career in the Inner City public schools in Atlanta where she taught 4th grade. After seeing the many struggles with Literacy her students’ endured, she pursued her Reading Endorsement. As a result, she started a free tutoring program for all her students because her belief is that Literacy is the foundation of education.

After teaching for 4 ½ years, Stacie and her family relocated to Colorado Springs where she has continued her career in education teaching 4th grade. Working with children has always been a passion for her and she strives to create a fun, loving, and safe learning environment for all her students.


Mr. Jason Luce
Jason, born and raised in Queens, N. Y., has lived in the Rocky Mountain region  since 1990. Jason is a retired law enforcement officer with 29 years of experience.
He had a variety of assignments during that time to include, patrol, civil unit, transport, detentions, narcotics detective, motorcycle traffic officer, swat team member, and defensive tactics instructor.
In his time off he enjoys spending time with his four children, mountain biking, camping, RVing, ATVing, yoga and martial arts.

Office Staff

Mrs. Ashley Hardman
Ashley was born and raised in Alabama but has called Colorado home for the last 4.5 years. She has been married to her husband, Mace for 15 years. Together they have 3 girls, who all attend New Summit Charter Academy. Ashley has been a stay-at-home mom for 8 years while volunteering in school classrooms and working in Children’s Ministry at her church. Since moving to Colorado, Ashley has worked part-time with a local photographer and has been a volunteer with NSCA for the last 2 years, as well as a Teacher Assistant. 
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, doing crafts, reading, and event planning.  
She has loved being a part of such an amazing school community and she is looking forward to another wonderful school year!
Mrs. Maria Walker
Maria is a military brat who calls Colorado home because she has lived here the longest. She has been married 24 years and has 3 adult children and 4 grand-babies. Maria spent 20 years in banking and finance but has been working in education since 2006. She started off as an admin assistant and then advanced to an executive assistant for the assistant superintendent in school district 49. 
Maria loves to travel, and any opportunities to do so, she will. She loves making crafts, scrapbooking, and card making. She is excited to be around educators and students at New Summit since it has been quite a while since she has worked around students.
Mrs. Nikki Reichert

Nikki was born and raised in Colorado Springs. After high school, she attended college in Okinawa, Japan and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Advertising at UTSA in San Antonio, TX. After graduation, she moved back to Colorado Springs to be near family and start a family of her own. Being a mother has always been Nikki’s dream and that finally came true for her and her husband, Andrew in 2010. Nikki is now a mother of two boys, ages 8 and 5.

Being a parent and having numerous years of experience in Customer Service and Networking, Nikki brings a plethora of knowledge and compassion to her new role here at New Summit Charter Academy.

Kindergarten Teachers

Mrs. Darali Paulus

Darali is a Colorado native and retired military wife. Early Childhood Education has always been her career passion and a way to support and give back to varied communities across the world while supporting her husband throughout his military career. She has contributed to the Early Childhood Education field as both a large center director for various corporations, as well as teaching for Frankfurt International School, the DOD’s school system, and most recently 10 years for Harrison School District as a Kindergarten, First, and Second-grade teacher.

She holds her BA in Early Childhood Education and is close to completion of her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Darali brings knowledge and experience from diverse school systems and varied early childhood environments. She has great depth in leadership positions and is excited to be part of the New Summit Charter Academy for the third year.

Ms. Rochelle Ortega

Ms. Ortega is a native of Colorado and has spent most of her life here in Colorado Springs. She attended the University of Phoenix where she received her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education in 2012. She has taught kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Teaching Kindergarten has always been a passion of hers though and she has spent most of her teaching career in the wonderful world of Kindergarten. Ms. Ortega also has a passion for teaching English Learners and is continuing her education in teaching English Language Learners so that she can have the skills needed to support all learners in the classroom.

Ms. Ortega also has three children of her own. She is excited and is happy to be a part of the New Summit Charter Academy Family!

Mrs. Melissa O'Connor

Melissa has lived in Colorado Springs for 9 years. As an educator, she has over 18 years of classroom and administrative experience in Early Childhood thru 6th grade settings. She received a B.A. in K-8th Education and a second degree in Theology with a minor in Chinese language, and an endorsement in ESL. She also has a M.A. in Educational Administration and is working on completing her doctorate on a school choice program in Colorado.

Desiring to foster a passion for learning in her students she taught at Morrison Academy in Taiwan for 7 years, as well as several early childhood centers, and most recently at The Classical Academy for 5 years. Melissa brings a wealth of experience in best practices for early childhood settings and is looking forward to teaching Kindergarten again at New Summit.

Mrs. Andrea Lucero

Coming Soon!

Ms. Kristen Bay
Kristen graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Elementary Education with a Reading specialization. She taught first and third grade in Houston.
She has been teaching Preschool for 13 years, including the last two years at New Summit Preschool. She moved to Colorado Springs 16 years ago and loves living here. She enjoys hiking and spending time in the mountains with her four boys, reading, and going to the theater.
Kristen has a passion for teaching and is very excited to be joining the Kindergarten team and starting this new adventure!

First Grade Teachers

Mrs. Eliza Vermillion

Eliza is originally from North Carolina, but has been living in Colorado Springs for the past 2 years with her husband and their 2 cats. While a beach girl at heart, she enjoys going on new hikes in her free time with her husband and friends.

She studied Elementary Education at East Tennessee State University and is certified K-6. She has 5 years teaching experience in 1st grade, and is excited to transition to Kindergarten. Her passion is in teaching children how to read, and she loves watching the “light bulb” moments happen in any subject she is teaching. She strives to make her classroom welcoming, safe, loving, and packed each day with learning and reaching new summits!

Ms. Stacie Reed

Stacie grew up in Colorado Springs and spent her K-12 years attending D-20 schools. She went to Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska. and started her teaching career teaching second grade in Derby, Kansas. She taught first grade for two years at Roosevelt Charter Academy in Colorado Springs and spent the last year teaching 6-12 ESL at Discovery Canyon.

She has three kids and enjoys spending her free time being outdoors or traveling. She is so excited to be back teaching first grade as well as being at New Summit!

Ms. Erin Pugh

Erin is a recent transplant to Colorado after moving around a bit and exploring the world but now considers Colorado Springs home. She fell in love with being in the classroom and teaching children when she was required to complete classroom observation hours for one of her final classes necessary to complete a B.A. in Sociology. From there, she decided to change paths in life and enter the education field.

Erin has years of experience working in the classroom from being an assistant reading teacher to working with students with moderate to severe special needs and almost everything in between. Erin has earned two Master’s Degrees for The University of West Florida: an M.A. in Exceptional Student Education and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in elementary education. She is extremely excited to be back teaching 1st grade at New Summer Charter Academy for a second year!

Ms. Cindy Berndsen

Cindy was born and raised in Colorado Springs and graduated from Coronado High School. Her college degree was completed at Adams State and Regis University. She has had nearly 20 years of teaching and paraprofessional experience over multiple grade levels and content areas. She is very happy to a part of the New Summit community! 

Mrs. Hannah Sutton

Hannah was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She and her husband are high school sweethearts and decided to move to Colorado Springs shortly after they married.

She received her degree in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Appalachian was founded as a teaching college and the professors and cooperating teachers truly instilled a love of teaching children fundamental concepts that will set them up for success.

After graduation, she worked as a lead preschool teacher in North Carolina before moving to Colorado. She then worked as a substitute teacher in District 38 before accepting a job at New Summit. Hannah is so excited to be a member of the New Summit family and to help instill a love of learning in her first graders!

Second Grade Teachers

Mrs. Kimberly Ambuski

Kimberly is a Denver native and has been living in Colorado Springs for a total of 12 years. She decided to become a teacher when she was eight years old and has been volunteering and working in schools since she was fifteen. Kimberly attended UCCS and earned a Bachelor’s in Spanish and a certification in Elementary Education. She returned to UCCS to earn her Masters in Literacy and graduated in 2016. She has taught Kindergarten through third grade for 9 years in charter schools and a private school. In addition to teaching, she enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and friends, and traveling. 

She loves teaching and she loves learning and she can’t wait to meet the NSCA families and get to know her students!

Mrs. Natalie Spalinger

Natalie was born in California but grew up in Colorado Springs. She received her B.S. in Geography with an emphasis in Elementary Education from UCCS and her M.S. in Curriculum Instruction from Western Governors University. Teaching has always been a passion for her and she has been teaching for 6 years.

Natalie got married in June 2020 and enjoys going on Colorado adventures with her husband, Chad. She is also actively involved in her church. She enjoys spending time with family, snuggling with her nephew, paddle-boarding, hiking, and reading.

Mrs. Jennifer Sanders
Jennifer grew up in North Carolina and has degrees in Elementary Education and
History and holds a K-6 teaching certificate. She taught third and fifth grades in North Carolina.
Shortly after getting married they moved to Germany where she taught third and first grade. During their time in Tennessee, she taught fourth grade. She loves learning and experiencing new cultures and passing that on to the students in her classrooms. She is excited to be at New Summit and teaching the Core Knowledge

Her husband Seith is active duty Army and they have lived in 7 states, Europe, and
Asia. They moved to Colorado Springs from South Korea. This will be her third year teaching at New Summit. They have one daughter. Jennifer enjoys snow skiing, movies, working out, and traveling.
Mrs. Amy Tuning

Amy was born and raised in Central Oregon. She attended George Fox University, where she received her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education and a Minor in Social Work in 2006.

After graduation, she and her husband Joel moved to Alaska where they lived for seven years. She taught Kindergarten in the Northwest Arctic School Borough for two years.

She then took time off from full-time teaching to be a stay-at-home mom but continued to substitute teach from 2009-2013.

In 2013, Amy and her family moved to Colorado Springs, where she continued to substitute teach for District 20 until 2018 when she joyfully accepted the position at NSCA.

Amy and her husband have six children, whom all get to attend New Summit Charter with her this year.  Amy has taught 4 years of Kindergarten and is excited to begin the adventure of teaching 2nd grade.  

Third Grade Teachers

Mrs. Danon Davidson

Danon is from Snowflake, Arizona, but has lived in Colorado Springs for nine years. She and her husband have three beautiful children ages 19, 11, and 7. Her youngest two children attend
New Summit Charter as well.

Danon received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and
Archaeology with an emphasis on Mexican-American studies from the University of Arizona.
She obtained her M.A. in elementary education from the University of Phoenix.
Danon has enjoyed working in both the archeology and educational fields. She has done fieldwork in prehistoric archaeology and modern archaeology/anthropology.

Her prior experience in elementary education has been teaching third and fourth grade, as well as being a TA for second grade. Danon loves being outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, and trail riding. She is looking forward to another exciting year at New Summit as a third grade teacher.

Mrs. Rachael Ruccius

Rachael is from Seattle but has lived in Colorado Springs since 2004. She received her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish in 2002 and is currently working on her graduate degree in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education at UNC. She has taught Kindergarten, ELL, and Montessori preschool and loves working with kids of all ages.

As the mother of three beautiful children, Rachael realizes how important the early years are for children and the positive impact she can have on their growth as a learner.  When she is not teaching, she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband and children skiing, hiking, biking, camping, or stand up paddleboarding. She also enjoys traveling around the world and experiencing other cultures. 

She is excited to teach for the third year at New Summit Charter Academy and joining the third grade team this year. She looks forward to working in a nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and be supported to build confidence and foster curiosity.

Mrs. Amy Ausec​
Amy is a fourth generation native of Colorado and was born and raised in Manitou Springs. She married her high school sweetheart after graduating from college and has two kids, a boy and a girl. She has a B.A in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Mathematics from the University of Northern Colorado. 
Her love of teaching extends into working in the children’s ministry as a Sunday school teacher and Awana teacher. When she gets the chance, she enjoys scrap-booking family photos, cross stitching, traveling, camping and spending time with my family.

Fourth Grade Teachers

Mrs. Alisha Pagan

Alisha is a Colorado Springs native, is married (to Mr. Ken who likes to volunteer), and recently delivered their first baby, Rivers Paul. She also has four fur-babies: one cat, two hedgehogs, and one dog who is her service dog. In her free time, Alisha likes to read, craft, and shoot her bow.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Performing Arts with minors in Spanish and Leadership Studies from UCCS. She also has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Change Management. These programs have really developed Alisha’s skill in navigating change and relationships in creative and engaging  ways.

Alisha has worked in higher education for five years and has taught fourth grade for all of that time. She also has over ten years of leadership/management experience in college and corporate settings. Alisha is passionate about  diversity and inclusion and works hard to create a space where each student feels loved and valued for their differences. She is so excited to continue to be a part of the New Summit family!

Mrs. Shannan Ravetti

Shannan is excited to be joining the 4th grade team at New Summit Charter Academy. She wants her students to have a year full of learning and new adventures and is excited to see what great things are in store for her class! 

Shannan has lived in Colorado Springs for most of her life and considers herself a native to this beautiful state even though she was born in Germany. Her father was stationed at Fort Carson when she was in the second grade and when he retired many years later, her family was well rooted in Colorado Springs. 

Shannan met her husband in college (the early years) and has been happily married for 26 years with two wonderful children. She has also been blessed with her first grand baby who recently turned one.

She graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a degree in Biology and Elementary Education in 2017. She has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades in District 49 and is excited to be rejoining the ASD20 Community. 

Shannan enjoys spending time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, watching sports (especially lacrosse and football), reading a good book, quilting, running, photography, and she always enjoys learning something new.

She is excited for the school year and all that awaits her class. She is passionate about education and student achievement and strives to see every student succeed and knows that every student has their own unique way of learning and expressing understanding. She plans to work with each individual to support their academic growth and prepare them to be leaders and role models.

Ms. Misty Schulze
Coming Soon!

Fifth Grade Teachers

Mrs. Becky Engasser
Becky is transitioning from a career in business to teaching. She is currently enrolled in the PPBOCES/UCCS Alternative Licensure Program and is looking forward to being in the classroom with NSCA students.
She earned her B.A. in business administration from the University of Hawaii and is currently working towards her MA. Becky has made Colorado Springs her home for the past ten years with her husband and daughters. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors, gardening, camping and hiking. 
Ms. Jamie Pluemer

Jamie was born and raised in Colorado. She loved growing up in Woodland Park and as a mountain girl, learned to love nature and animals from a young age. She has a seven year old son and two dogs that keep her very busy, but they all still try to go hiking and camping as much as possible.  

Jamie received her B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado and has a Master’s Degree in Reading from Regis University. She believes that developing a passion for reading opens endless doors to success and is the key to education. With thirteen years of teaching experience in the fifth grade, Jamie has found that her passion and commitment to teaching has only grown with every group of students that have passed through her classroom. She is looking forward to the new summits that are going to be explored at New Summit Charter Academy this school year. 

Mrs. Abby Edmiston
Abby is very much looking forward to working at New Summit this year! She is originally from Lubbock, Texas but has lived in Colorado Springs for about a decade. She has two daughters who will both be at New Summit in Kindergarten and 3rd grade. Her family has 3dogs, including a Goldendoodle puppy they just got, who keeps them very entertained!  
Abby graduated from Texas Tech University (Go Red Raiders!!) with a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies and taught 5th grade for a few years before moving to Colorado Springs for her husband’s job. When she first got here, she worked at the Ruth Holley Library until she had her first daughter. Because of that, books and libraries have a special place in her heart! 
Since then, she’s been a stay-at-home mom but volunteered in schools as much as possible. She will be a teaching assistant this year but hopes she can get back in the classroom eventually and be a teacher again. She is an enthusiastic sports fan, and you can always find her cheering on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in any sport along with managing her fantasy football teams!
She is SO looking forward to having her family being a part of New Summit and to being one of the smiling faces for the students to see every day!

Middle School Teachers

Mrs. Kelly Stilson

Kelly is originally from Lexington, VA and graduated with her Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree from Radford University in Radford, VA. After graduation, she relocated to Colorado Springs in 2004. She spent seven years with El Paso County Sheriff’s office as a civilian. Kelly has three children, a son and twin girls and when her daughter was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy she became a stay-at-home mom. In 2016, her twins attended preschool in District 49 and she volunteered in their classrooms and found she adored working with children.  The following year her twins started Kindergarten and Kelly started working as a paraprofessional with District 49 preschool program. She is very excited about this new opportunity with New Summit Charter Academy. 

Mrs. Erin Rivera

Erin was born and raised in upstate New York where she graduated from Taconic Hills High School. She then attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida where she earned her B.A. Degree in Elementary Education K-6.

After graduation, she moved to Spring Hill, Florida with her husband, where she began her teaching career at Genesis Elementary Schools, a prestigious college preparatory school. Erin taught 3rd grade at Genesis for 12 years, being the upper elementary lead for the last 6 years. Her curriculum was focused on teaching core values and the pillars of Literacy and Mathematics to build a strong educational foundation. She and her family have now been in Colorado Springs for 3 years and Erin has continued her career in education teaching 3rd grade.

Teaching was always a calling for her and she feels most at home in the classroom where she creates a safe and loving environment. Erin also strives to be innovative and to harness those unexpected teaching moments.

Mr. Simon Johnson

Simon was born in England and moved to California at a young age. He attended National University where he obtained his B.A. in History (2010). Simon has a passion for working with kids and it began at an early age where he worked in after-school programs, recreation, and in the group home setting. He is also a former assistant program director with Rancho Damacitias Children and Family Services in California providing comprehensive care and compassion for foster children, challenged youth and young adults through life-enriching opportunities and strength-based, solution-focused programs and services.

In his spare time, he enjoys family time, movies, books, house projects and working on his website where he shares his passion for geek culture.

Mrs. Michele Comfort

Michele was born in Minnesota but grew up north of Seattle on a farm in Washington. She attended the University of Washington and graduated in 1989. She met her husband at the UW as well. They moved to Colorado Springs, CO since he was in the Air Force. They have lived in Colorado Springs for 30 years. She has 3 children, Scott, Kira, and Leah and 6 cats. She received her Masters in Science from Colorado College in May 2000. She has been teaching for 28 years and loves it when students get that “A-ha” moment. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family, traveling and running ½ marathons.

Ms. Meaghan Bishoff

Meaghan graduated from Mississippi State University with her Undergraduate degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. After school, she moved to Hawaii where she led several programs teaching adults all the way down to toddlers. Meaghan has two children, Emma who is in 6th grade and Stella who is in 3rd grade.

After Hawaii, her family moved to Twenty-nine Palms, California, where she worked for the Marine Corps as a liaison between the command and their families. There, she taught budgeting classes, life skills, and coping classes.  After moving out of the dessert to the beach in San Diego, she was heavily involved with the local elementary school where she volunteered daily in classrooms and was a frequent substitute teacher. While in San Diego, she also entered the state teaching program. 

Her family is so thankful to move to the beautiful state of Colorado, as they love camping and hiking in this gorgeous state. Shortly after school started, Meaghan became a substitute teacher at New Summit Charter  Academy then applied to be a teacher’s assistant for kindergarten. This allowed her to return back to school for her master’s degree.  In 2020 she moved to the first-grade teacher assistant position. When the middle school math position opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. She has always loved math and excelled at the subject. She is so excited to teach your children and hopes to instill a love of math.   

Mrs. Stefanie Selck

Stefanie is so excited to start her journey at New Summit Charter Academy, and of course get to know all of the wonderful students! Her family has a huge military background, so she has lived in a lot of different places, but has called Colorado Springs home for most of her life. Her Army veteran husband has started a non-profit supporting veterans from all walks of life, which is something that takes up her family’s spare time in a positive way! She also has an amazing German Shepherd Service Dog who is the best good girl in the world! 

Stefanie’s Alma Mater is the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English-Literature, and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is also a Colorado Department of Education Licensed Educator. 

Stefanie has a history working in Charter School Systems, as well as working for Colorado Springs School District 11. She is entering her 6th year of teaching and has taught grades 6-11 throughout these years, but teaching middle school is her absolute favorite and for the past 3 years, she has been teaching 8th Grade Language Arts.  

Stefanie knows she and her student are going to have a fun and exciting school year learning and growing. She is a laugh-loving teacher who appreciates inside-jokes, emojis, movies, and memes. She looks forward to many celebrations, laughs, and learning.

Mrs. Becky Anizell

Becky was born in Mexico City and grew up there until she was in high school. She then moved to Colorado Springs and completed high school here. She attended college in Minnesota and Florida and has a BA in Art Education, Graphic Design, Biblical Studies, and Psychology, along with a minor in Modern Languages, Counseling, and Communications Broadcasting. She also has her MA in Curriculum & Instruction. She has taught Spanish and Art for over 20 years. Aand has 5 Becky is the mom of 5 kids ranging in ages 9 to 25.  She loves traveling, reading, painting, shopping, scrapbooking and having coffee with friends. Currently, she will be joining the middle school team teaching Basic Spanish, Spanish 1 and World Cultures.

Specials Teachers

Mrs. Pam Cassady
Pam has lived in many places but considers Colorado home. Her dad and her husband, both retired from the Air Force. She studied Early Childhood Education at Colorado State University and started her career as a preschool teacher and then a preschool Director. She took several years off to raise her son and daughter.
She continued her career in the library, first at PPLD, and then at Academy D20 as an elementary school librarian. Finally, Pam was able to combine her two passions: children and reading. She has over 23 years of experience in education and library.
She and her husband love to travel and spend time with friends and family. She also reads and makes jewelry in her spare time. She is always looking for great books to share with her students. She is excited to start sharing the joy of reading with students at NSCA in our brand new library!
Miss Victoria Barber

Victoria “Tori” is originally from the East Coast and born in Norfolk, Virginia. She moved around a lot in her childhood but mainly stayed within the Virginia/Maryland area.

Currently, she lives with her brother’s family along with three cats. Since she lives with family, she helps look after her niece and nephew both of whom will be attending New Summit this upcoming school year. They will be in 3rd grade and Kindergarten and the three of them are very excited!

Tori went to Fort Lewis College where she earned 2 Bachelor of Arts degrees in Accounting and Graphic Design. She is currently working on her Masters of Education in Elementary Education with initial licensure. Her past work experience includes working in retail at JCPenney and Target in the fulfillment departments. Some fun facts about her are that she has two different eye colors, two zodiac signs (Aries and Pisces), and her favorite word is duality. She is looking forward to this upcoming school year!

Mrs. Laurene Cirruzzo

Laurene is a native New Yorker living in Colorado Springs for 13 years now. She has earned degrees in both Dance and Physical Education and has a Masters in Health. She has been teaching Physical Education for the past 20 years, successfully incorporating both dance and gymnastics into the traditional PE curriculum. As a young girl, Laurene was an accomplished gymnast and part of the NY State Gymnastics Team.

With dance, she began her studies under a former NY City Rockette. Both of these forms of movement have had a huge influence in her life and she now hopes to impact the New Summit Charter Academy students with a love for movement. She is honored to be a part of the NSCA Team and look forward to providing students with a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Her past experience included developing a dance curriculum for D20 and implementing this at Pine Creek HS. She has had the opportunity to teach at a variety of schools including an all-girls’ leadership academy.

Mr. Joseph Earnest

Joey Earnest is a musician and educator from Southern California who specializes in keyboard, saxophone, composition, and music production. He received a BM in Jazz Studies from UC Irvine, an MM in Composition from San Diego State University, and an MA in Education from National University. Joey composes and performs electro-acoustic music and has released two self produced albums. He has over a decade of professional performance and teaching experience. Joey loves skiing, hiking, and being outside as much as possible. He recently moved to Colorado with his wife and two dogs and is thrilled to be a part of the NSCA team!

Instructional Staff

Miss Megan Brooker
Megan was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. She studied at Grace College, earning a bachelor’s degree in English Education with a minor in French. Student teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand, piqued her wanderlust; from there she began globetrotting and hasn’t stopped since!
Teaching high school English in the Dominican Republic has taught her much about crafting curriculum, motivating learners, and guiding ESL students, but most of all, teaching has deepened her love for the children who walk through her classroom doors. Megan enjoys spending time with family (whether walking the beaches of California with her sisters, biking with her father, or decorating with her mother), shooting child and family photography, and reading a good book. She is excited to begin life in Colorado Springs and serve at New Summit Charter Academy!
Mrs. Christine Earnest

Christine was born and raised in San Diego, CA and moved to Colorado Springs with her husband this past year. She has always had a passion for working with children. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and teaching license in California. While in school, Christine worked as a preschool teacher and nanny and also obtained her newborn care specialist certification. Christine has three years of experience with 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten. She is very excited to be a part of the New Summit family!

Literacy Team

Mrs. Betty Jo Bolt
Betty Jo is looking forward to returning to New Summit for her second year as a Reading Interventionist. She feels like she has been a teacher all of her life – starting out “playing school” in her family’s basement, teaching ESL in China, homeschooling in Singapore, teaching 1st and 4th grade for seven years, subbing in D-20 schools, and embracing her years as a stay-at-home mom of four for 16 years. At the end of Summer 2020, Betty Jo will finish her certification as an Academic Language Therapist, trained to provide multi-sensory structured reading intervention for children for reading difficulties.
Betty Jo is a native of the Chicago suburbs, graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA and has lived in Colorado Springs for 23 years.  From city to corn fields to mountains…it’s all great!  She likes to eat unique ethnic food with Mr. Bolt, take long walks and hikes, read books under a cozy blanket, engage in long talks with friends, and see children smile. She is most excited about seeing her NSCA students again!
Ms. Tammy Kleinsmith

Tammy is a Colorado native, born and raised in the greater Denver area. After high school, she attended Regis University before graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Colorado State University. Upon graduation, she moved to Vail with her future husband to enjoy all the wonderful adventures a Colorado mountain town has to offer. While not hiking, traveling, and snowboarding, she worked as an office manager for a local law firm before putting her dance background to use by teaching at a dance studio in Eagle. After ten years in the Vail Valley, Tammy and her family relocated to the town of Larkspur. Tammy owned and operated a dance studio in Castle Rock where she taught students ranging in ability from recreational to
competitive and in age from 3 to adult. Although Tammy loved being a studio director, the demands of the business took too much time away from her family. A teacher at heart, she decided on a career change but one that still enabled her to work with kids. Tammy joined the LISCP program and became a Certified Academic Language Practitioner. Tammy teaches Take Flight at New Summit Charter Academy as well as to private students.

Tammy has been married for almost 25 years. She has three children. Her oldest son, Ben, attends Northern Arizona University. Her middle son, Sam, is a Senior at Palmer Ridge High
School and her daughter, Kate, attends Lewis Palmer Middle School. Tammy enjoys active family time: hiking, traveling, snowboarding and playing golf. This is Tammy’s first year at New Summit and she is excited to be in a classroom environment teaching Take Flight.

Mrs. Wendy Gamboa

Wendy was raised in Utah where she met her husband of 17 years. He was enlisted in USMC which took them on many adventures. They moved to Colorado from California nearly 4 years ago when her husband was retiring from the Marines. Together, they have 3 crazy, loud, fun kiddos ages 16, 11, and 6. She has a bachelors degree in Humanities which was a fun adventure in itself. She loves anthropology, social sciences, history, English and READING. One of her dreams would be to go to school for her whole life for the fun of it.

Wendy enjoys the outdoors and has spent many hours in the mountains near where she grew up. She has always enjoyed camping and would often be the first one up to start the fire and enjoy the early morning sounds as critters started stirring. She would also stay up late watching the stars, trying to figure out the constellations. One interesting thing to know about her is that she is allergic to cinnamon. It’s an odd allergy, so her family is very protective of her and is always on the lookout for cinnamon all the time.

She is excited to be at New Summit working as the Literacy T.A. There is so much to learn and to help others learn. She’s excited to meet all the new kids and have new adventures!

Resource (Special Education) Team

Ms. Cindy Helling

Cindy grew up in Nebraska, but has lived in Colorado for 20 years now and loves it! She has taught special education for 20 years, and was a director at a center, and has enjoyed every minute of it. Her passion is to support students who struggle, helping them see their strengths and gifting.

Mr. Nico Riccio

Nico is a Colorado native, first generation American Italian. He was honorably discharged from the United States Army Reserves out of Fort Carson in 1991 also the same year becoming an Alumni of Rampart High School. He has been married to his lovely wife of 13 years.

A father of two sons and one daughter. He has many hobbies but to name a few he enjoys art, video games, Martial Arts, & movies. He is a self-proclaimed Jack of All Trades most recently leaving the Security field to work with children. He is going on his fourth year in the Educational field. Taking on a variety of roles; Crossing Guard, Custodian, Playground Monitor, & Special Education Significant Support Needs Paraprofessional. Which lead to his true calling of assisting children in seeking new pathways to achieve greatness in all that they do.

Miss Lindsey Ross

Lindsey was born in Washington State and has lived in Phoenix but she has called Colorado Springs
home for the past 13 years. She has been working with children in different capacities for 16 years and
her favorite age to work with and love on are babies!! She is also active at her church. Lindsey has her
Associates degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelors in Business Management. She is
currently working on her teaching license and can’t wait to have her own class! She’s excited to have
the privilege of working at New Summit with all the wonderful students and staff.

Teacher Assistants

Ms. Kelsey Jones

Coming Soon!

Ms. Laura Savage

Laura is a Colorado native who grew up in the small town of Calhan just east of Colorado Springs. She and her husband have two daughters, and they all love doing activities outside. 

Laura’s background is in childcare, where she has 14 years of working with children from the age of 6 weeks to 12 years old. She really enjoys working with children, and believes that every child is important. She is excited for this new adventure of getting to work with the first grade classes!
Mrs. Maggie Hutto

Magdalene was born in Michigan and raised in Colorado and she is very close with her family. She will be getting married on September 7th so her family will be growing and she couldn’t be more excited! Magdalene is currently pursuing her bachelors in Education at Grand Canyon University, she is excited to be finishing up her degree very soon.

Magdalene has been interested in working with children her whole life and started as a babysitter and then helped out in classrooms. She was also a swim, ski, and running coach for three years. She worked in Special Education, SSN, and “Special Medical Needs” classrooms for four years. The past two years she was a pre-school teacher. She is very outdoorsy and loves spending time with friends and family. She is so happy to be working in second grade this year as it is one of her favorite grades to work with. 

Mrs. Chelsea Dayberry
Chelsea was born in Texas but moved to Colorado when she was 18 months old and has grown up in Colorado Springs. She has been married for 11 years to her high school sweetheart, Ryan. Together, they have two girls, one who is going into 6th grade and the other who is going into 4th grade at New Summit. Her family has 2 dogs, 2 cats, a ferret, and a mini pig!
She has worked part-time in the office of her Dad’s HVAC company since she was 16. Mostly, she has been a stay-at-home mom and a classroom mom. She started helping in classrooms when her oldest started Kindergarten. She is excited to work at New Summit this year and still be able to be close to her two girls!
Mrs. Kimberly Weeks

Kimberly grew up in Wyoming and has lived in the Springs since 2012. She is going to school to get her degree in Sign Language Interpreting and Deaf Studies. She has been married for 11 years and has two boys that will be attending second and fourth grades at New Summit in the Fall. She also loves to travel and spend time with her family and friends whenever time allows. 

Ms. Tarah Wiltz

Coming Soon!

Mrs. Stephanie Flores

Stephanie, a newcomer to Colorado Springs, was born and raised in a large family in Idaho Falls, Idaho. There, she met her husband, Jared, who is active duty in the US Air Force. They have lived in Florida, England, Delaware, and Hawaii before moving to Colorado in 2017. They have three sons, which she was blessed to stay home with during their younger years. Stephanie received her Associate’s degree while in Hawaii and has been working in elementary schools for 3 years. She enjoys learning, sharing, and growing in knowledge and understanding and is looking forward to working with amazing students and staff. 

Mrs. Jessica Peoples

Jessica has lived in Colorado Springs for the past 3 years after relocating from Kansas where she was raised. She is a U.S. Navy Veteran who has over 15 years of experience in the medical field due to her training as a Hospital Corpsman. In addition to this, she worked for the Veterans Affairs Health Administration system in a VA Hospital and Clinic for over 11 years. With her personal and professional background, she brings an array of knowledge to New Summit Charter Academy in many different areas such as ADD/ADHD, Autism, Sensory needs, Anxiety, and chronic illnesses such as Type 1 Diabetes and Asthma. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, being outdoors, cooking, reading, laughing, and drinking coffee. Over the past year, Jessica has been volunteering in her daughter’s kindergarten class and at church. She is also involved with the JDRF in Denver advocating on behalf of her daughter and many other children with Type 1 Diabetes. Jessica is very excited to be a part of New Summit and is eager to help your child and family have a safe and fun school year!

Mr. Kevin Zelasko

Coming Soon!


Mr. Daniel Colby

Coming Soon!

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