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Staff Directory

Administrators 

Principal Kim McClellandKim 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.

Contact: kim.mcclelland@newsummitcharter.org

AdministrationJennifer 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.

Contact: jenn.reissig@newsummitcharter.org

JOHN CoppinJohn, 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.

Contact: john.coppin@newsummitcharter.org

Leadership & Support Team

School CounselorCortnie 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!

Contact: cortnie.wise@newsummitcharter.org

Ginger LuckettGinger was born in Illinois near St. Louis, MO. Go Cardinals !!! She grew up in that area and went to college at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. She studied commercial graphics design and then went to work for Trans World Airlines right out of college. She has two grown children that are married and currently live in Colorado. She has moved around to many places in the United States over the years including Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Colorado Springs, and back to the St. Louis Area. She moved back to Colorado Springs almost 3 years ago. She worked as an administrative assistant for 10 years in Illinois at an elementary school. She loves crafting and being involved with New Summit. She is hoping she has grandkids someday soon but until then she loves being Miss Ginger to all the kiddos at NewSummit.

Contact: ginger.luckett@newsummitcharter.org

Jessica has 2 children that attend New Summit Charter Academy, Madison, and Jackson. She has been married to her husband Aaron for almost 15 years. She is originally from Philadelphia, PA and very proud of it (GO BIRDS & PHILS!!)  She is also a New Summit Founding Family Member and has lived in Colorado since 2015. She loves skiing, going to the pool and hiking with her family.

Contact: jessica.sombke@newsummitcharter.org

Sharon BeginSharon 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.

Contact: sharon.begin@newsummitcharter.org

Stacie StoddardStacie 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.

Contact: stacie.stoddard@newsummitcharter.org

Becky holds a business degree from the University of Hawaii. She has 17 years of human resources experience and three years as a business manager in both the private and public sector. Becky relocated to Colorado Springs almost ten years ago with her husband and two daughters and enjoys spending time outdoors camping and hiking. 

Contact: rebecca.engasser@newsummitcharter.org

Kathryn SneedKathryn 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!
 

Contact: kathryn.sneed@newsummitcharter.org

Bob is the District 20 Security Officer assigned to New Summit. He is looking forward to being part of the New Summit community and providing for the safety of the students, staff, and visitors. Students usually call him “Mr. Bob” or “Officer Bob.” He is one of approximately 40 officers assigned throughout the district, and most of the officers are retired law enforcement officers or military veterans. He came to District 20 in 2016, retiring after 24 years of service as a United States Probation Officer in the Albuquerque and Colorado Springs field offices. He is originally from Los Angeles, grew up in Chicago, and come from a family of law enforcement officers and educators. He is married to a District 49 charter school director and his oldest daughter is a third-generation teacher in District 20. His other daughter is an attorney in Colorado Springs. Bob enjoys his grandchildren, fishing, playing ice hockey, and doing anything outdoors in his spare time.

Kindergarten Teachers

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 second year.

Contact: darali.paulus@newsummitcharter.org

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 looking forward to being a part of the New Summit Charter Academy Family!

Contact: rochelle.ortega@newsummitcharter.org

Rachael RucciusRachel has lived in Colorado Springs for 14 years. She received her B.S. Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish and Middle School Education in 2002. Her first teaching position was in an extended day Kindergarten classroom outside of Greeley, CO. Rachael also has 2 years of teaching experience in preschool-aged Montessori classrooms and has always loved teaching students of all ages. This past school year she substituted for various schools in District 11 which reignited her passion for teaching in a classroom. She also has a master certification in nutrition and has engaged in nutrition consulting for the past four years. 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. She looks forward to working in a nurturing environment where children can learn, grow and be supported to build confidence and foster curiosity.

Contact: rachael.ruccius@newsummitcharter.org

Amy TuningAmy 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. Amy and her husband have three biological children and are currently fostering three children. Amy has taught 3 years of Kindergarten and is excited to continue within that grade level.

Contact: amy.tuning@newsummitcharter.org

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 at New Summit this fall.

Contact: melissa.bungay@newsummitcharter.org

First Grade Teachers

Katie GrayKatie is from Middletown, Ohio where she met her wonderful husband and began her first years of teaching. Katie taught first grade, Special needs preschool for two years and second grade for one year, then she and her husband and daughter Lilly Grace (now 6) ​ventured to Chattanooga, Tennessee. After a few years of staying home with Lilly and new brother Charlie (now 4), Katie went back to teaching third grade in Tennessee. Katie and her family made a final stop in Colorado Springs where she has taught preschool for the last two years and has become involved in her church. She completed her college Education with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Special Education at Miami University of Ohio. Katie also has a Masters in K-6 Reading and Writing obtained from Marygrove College. Education is a passion of Katie’s that has been passed down for generations. Her mother and Grandmother were teachers and Katie also felt led to become an educator. Katie enjoys “being on stage” in the classroom and making learning come to life. She appreciates getting to know families​​​ and creating rapport with her students. Katie is excited to begin year two of teaching first grade at New Summit Charter Academy.

Contact: katie.gray@newsummitcharter.org

Stacie ReedStacie 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!

Contact: stacie.reed@newsummitcharter.org

Erin is a recent transplant to Colorado after moving around a bit and exploring the world but now considers Colorado Springs home. Erin 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!

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! 

Hannah SuttonHannah 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!

Contact:  Hannah.Sutton@newsummitcharter.org

Second Grade Teachers

Kimberly SmithKimberly is a native Coloradoan 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. Kimberly is very excited to be joining New Summit Charter Academy as a second-grade teacher in the Fall.

Contact: Kimberly.Ambuski@newsummitcharter.org

Natalie EssellsNatalie 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 Governor’s University. Teaching has always been a passion for Natalie. She has been a teacher for 4 years at Chipeta Elementary in District 11 where she taught 1st and 2nd grade. Natalie is actively involved at her church. She enjoys spending time with family, paddle-boarding, hiking, and reading.

Contact: natalie.essells@newsummitcharter.org

Jennifer SandersJennifer 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 Curriculum. 

Her husband Seith is active duty Army and they have lived in 7 states, Europe, and Asia. They moved from South Korea to Colorado Springs last October. The last few years she has been a stay-at-home mom and is happy to be able to teach again. They have one daughter. She enjoys snow skiing, movies, working out, and traveling.
 

Third Grade Teachers

Danon DavidsonDanon was born and raised in Arizona, however, her family has been in Colorado since 2011. She and her husband have three children, two of whom attend New Summit Charter and the third is in her first year of college. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology and her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix.
 
She has enjoyed working in both the archaeology and educational fields. She taught fourth grade while in Arizona and then conducted an archaeology lab and fieldwork while in Illinois. For the last six years, she has been a stay-at-home mom and last year went back to work as a teacher’s assistant for the 2nd-grade team at New Summit. She had so much fun working with the students and the staff that she decided to teach this year.
 
Danon loves being outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, and walking
with her dog, Frankie. She is so excited to meet all the third graders and

is looking forward to having a fun and exciting year!

Contact: danon.davidson@newsummitcharter.org 

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 1st grader who will be attending New Summit in the fall and a 4-year-old. She has a B.A in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Mathematics from the University of Northern Colorado. 
 
Since Amy was a child in elementary school, she knew that she wanted to be an educator working with kids and since starting her career 11 years ago, she has taught Kindergarten through 4th grade. Most of her years of teaching were on Fort Carson where she started out as a kindergarten teacher and left as a third-grade teacher. She is very excited to get back into a 3rd-grade classroom at New Summit!
 
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 scrapbooking family photos, traveling, camping and spending time with my family. She is very excited to be part of such a wonderful community and look forward to this coming school year!
 

Madison FagaMadison (or Maddy) is originally from Iowa, which is where most of her family still lives. Currently, she lives in Colorado Springs with her golden retriever, Scout.

Maddy attended Wartburg College, in Iowa where she studied Elementary Education and Special Education. She also received her reading endorsement and was very involved in the elementary science programs. While at Wartburg, her passion for special education continued to grow, so she decided to study special education as well. She completed her student teaching in Denver, Colorado at 2 different schools in downtown Denver. Maddy fell in love with Colorado and decided to move here right after student teaching. Last year, she worked as a 3rd-grade teacher at a local school in the Springs.

Maddy loves to ride her bike and hike. Each summer, her family rides their bikes across Iowa on a bike ride called RAGBRAI. She is so excited to join New Summit’s team this Fall and she can’t wait to meet everyone! 

Contact: madison.faga@newsummitcharter.org

Fourth Grade Teachers

Alisha PaganAlisha is a Colorado Springs native, is married and has two fur-babies: one cat and one dog. 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.

Alisha has worked in higher education for five years and has taught fourth grade for the past two years. She also has over five years of leadership/management experience and is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Now, she has decided to return to her passion for teaching and is excited to get back to spending time with fourth graders again!

In her free time, Alisha likes to read, hike, craft, and shoot her bow. She is so excited for the chance to become a part of the New Summit family!

Contact: Alisha.Pagan@newsummitcharter.org

Jonah is one of the new 4th grade teachers at New Summit this year and this will be his 3rd year of teaching. He is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and graduated from Wartburg College with an Elementary Education Degree and an endorsement in Special Education. 

He and his fiancé have been in Colorado Springs for 2 years and love going on hikes through the mountains with their dog Scout. His favorite hobby is playing and watching soccer. He played college soccer at the Division One level at Drake University and have continued his passion for the sport. He enjoys playing Men’s League soccer and watching his favorite Premier League team Southampton on the weekends.

Jennifer WiebersJennifer grew up in Atlanta, GA and Baton Rouge, LA.  She attended Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, MO and graduated with her BS in Elementary Education. While in college, she met her husband Shawn on a mission trip to Switzerland and they got married shortly after graduation.  They lived in Oklahoma for 14 years and moved to Colorado in 2017 with their 3 children, two of whom are attending NSCA.
 
Jennifer has 9 years teaching in the classroom and several years substituting in schools, totaling 16 years in education. She loves to bring fun and a joy of learning to her students.  
 
Jennifer loves to spend time with her family!  She also enjoys the outdoors, crafts and food.  She is excited to be teaching at New Summit this year!
 

Fifth Grade Teachers

Jaime PluemerJamie was born and raised in Colorado. She graduated from Woodland Park High School and received her B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Jamie has a Master’s Degree in Reading from Regis University. With eleven 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.

Contact: jamie.pluemer@newsummitcharter.org

Middle School Teachers

MEGGAN O’MAHONYMeggan O’Mahony or Mrs. Honey as her students call her has been teaching for 12 years. She is a graduate of Liberty High School in D20 and has a sophomore there for the 2019/2020 school year! She has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Mrs. Honey holds a CO Professional license with endorsements in K-6 Elementary Education, 7-12 Social Studies, 7-12 English/Language Arts and 7-12 Speech. She has experience teaching every grade level as a former sub as well as a classroom teacher for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and  Middle School.

An avid performer, she can frequently be found on the C/S Fine Arts Center MainStage, the First Company stage, or with Opera Theatre of the Rockies. She lives next door to the house she grew up in with her husband, 2 children, Irish Wolfhound, 2 cats, and a bearded dragon. Mrs. Honey has an affinity for pirates, Dr. Who, and anything Disney.

Contact: meggan.omahony@newsummitcharter.org

Erin RiveraErin 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.

Contact: erin.rivera@newsummitcharter.org

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.

Contact: Simon.Johnson@newsummitcharter.org

Michele ComfortMichele 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.

Contact: michele.comfort@newsummitcharter.org

Alicia EllisonAlicia was born and raised in Southern California and has lived in Colorado Springs with her husband since 2007 after graduating from college. She has two young children, one of which is a first grader here at New Summit, and the other is in preschool. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from California State University San Bernardino. Alicia has a passion for math and teaching along with experience in teaching, substituting, and tutoring math for almost 15 years. This school year will be her first year back as a teacher after taking a 6-year break to stay home with her children.

She enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, traveling, music and catching up on a good TV show. She is really excited to be teaching again and can’t wait to meet her students and their parents and get everyone excited to learn some math!

Contact: Alicia.Ellison@newsummitcharter.org

Specials Teachers

Becky AnizellBecky 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 for over 16 years and has 5 kids ranging in ages 7 to 22. She loves traveling, reading, painting, shopping, and learning. Currently, she is finishing a program to become a certified health and wellness coach.

Contact: becky.anizell@newsummitcharter.org

Megan BrookerMegan 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!

Contact: megan.brooker@newsummitcharter.org 

PE TeacherLaurene 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.

Contact: laurene.cirruzzo@newsummitcharter.org

Claire SantellanaClaire is the K-7 Art Teacher at New Summit Charter Academy. She is thrilled to begin her sixth year of teaching, and can’t wait to help the students experience a variety of art mediums while learning about art history! Her goal is to help students foster their creativity and find their passion in the arts and she is glad her three children will also have the opportunity to have specials classes at NSCA. Claire has always been passionate about Visual Arts and has been involved in the arts since early childhood. Her personal favorite mediums to work in are pencil and watercolor although she does enjoy dabbling in all mediums.
 
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Communications and seven years in the insurance industry, she decided to become a teacher. She is certified in EC-12 Visual Arts, EC-12 SPED, 8-12 ELAR, and has an EC-6 Generalist certification (TX). She has also taught reading, writing, SPED, and art in the public school setting. Along with teaching art privately for over ten years and serving as the Children’s Director of the Victoria Art League in Victoria, TX. During her time in Houston, TX, she served on the Arts in Medicine Board for MD Anderson Cancer Center.
 
Claire’s students have won various art contests in both TX and CO. After founding Art to Finish Studio LLC in 2018, she has enjoyed working directly with Cottonwood Center for the Arts, PPLD, and other organizations throughout Colorado Springs. She also hopes to expand her skills and knowledge through this avenue and bring what she learns back to the students of NSCA, further enriching their art education. She loves being surrounded by art and all things art and cannot wait to see what her students create this year!
 

Landen VandeverLanden grew up in Grant MI. He graduated from Grant Public Schools and received his bachelors in music education from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago IL. Music has been a passion for Landen since he was a small child. After receiving his degree, he taught music in Kindergarten through 8th Grade for two years at Muskegon Christian Schools and West Shore Lutheran Schools. Landen is very excited to move to Colorado Springs and join the team at New Summit Charter Academy!

Contact: landen.vandever@newsummitcharter.org 

Teacher Assistants

Kelly StilsonKelly 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. 

Contact: kelly.stilson@newsummitcharter.org

Abby EdmistonAbby is very much looking forward to being a new teacher’s assistant 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!
 
Chelsea DayberryChelsea 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!
 

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. 

Ashley HardmanAshley was born and raised in Alabama but has called Colorado home for the last 3 years. She has been married to her husband, Mace for 14 years. Together they have 3 girls, who all attend New Summit Charter Academy in Kindergarten, Third, and Sixth Grade. 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 was a volunteer with NSCA last year. 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!

Kimberly WeeksKimberly 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. 

Contact: kimberly.weeks@newsummitcharter.org

Victoria BarberVictoria “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!

Contact: Victoria.Barber@newsummitcharter.org

Stephanie FloresStephanie, 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. 

Contact: stephanie.flores@newsummitcharter.org

Celia MullinsCelia has been a Special Education Paraprofessional with Academy District 20 for over 13 years. She comes to New Summit with experience in reading, math and writing small group instruction. Before working for ASD20 she was a licensed childcare provider for 13 years.  She also owns her own travel agency and loves to travel with her husband of 27 years. Celia has 3 daughters who all graduated from district 20 school and 11 grandchildren.

Contact: celia.mullins@newsummitcharter.org

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!

Contact: wendy.gamboa@newsummitcharter.org

Bio Coming Soon!

Health Team

Jennifer is honored to be the new addition to the awesome healthcare team at New Summit! She will be job sharing with Sharon Begin (our PA) and working as the new part-time nurse. She likes to go by the name Jen; however, if there is more than one Jennifer or Jen working, she likes to be called Yolanda as It prevents confusion!

Jennifer has been a registered nurse for 19+ years. Her background consists of med-surg, critical care, pediatrics, acute care, emergency care, nursing management, home health, and forensic nursing. She was also an officer in the United States Air Force for 4 years. Within that time period, she had experience as a charge nurse, nurse educator, and nurse manager. She also has a Master of Science in Nursing as a Forensic Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Jennifer has a wonderful husband who has kept her out of trouble for 13 years and 2 “highly spirited” boys, ages 6 1/2 and 8 years. She is from central New York (not New York City) and believes there is always time for “Dance Party USA!” She also believes there should always be a “Quote of the Day” and particularly likes “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Even though she does not have experience as a school nurse, she looks forward to opening up this exciting chapter in her life and learning something new! She looks forward to
being part of the New Summit family and meeting all our families!

Contact: Jennifer.Barrett@newsummitcharter.org

Jessica PeoplesJessica 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!

Contact: jessica.peoples@newsummitcharter.org

Instructional Staff

Cindy HellingCindy 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.

Contact: cindy.helling@newsummitcharter.org

Pam CassidyPam 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!
 

Holly vanWierenHolly has been teaching for over 30 years. Her experience includes homeschooling, working at charter schools, private schools, and “regular” public schools. She has taught gifted children, struggling students and everyone in between. Holly has enjoyed instructing preschool, elementary, high school, and college students. Since the beginning of her career, Holly has been interested in helping students who struggle with reading. For her, each student is a unique person with unique strengths and challenges. It is up to the classroom teacher and interventionist, Holly believes, to figure out how that student learns best and deliver the appropriate instruction. About 5 years ago, Holly was trained as a Reading Specialist and is now a Certified Academic Language Practitioner. One of her greatest joys is to see reading progress in the students she supports and to come alongside families of those students. In addition, Holly loves to support the teachers in reading instruction. Holly is looking forward to being part of the New Summit Charter Academy staff and making a difference in the lives of families there. Holly has been married for 35 years to Rick, a Colorado Springs Realtor. They have 5 grown children and 7 grandchildren. Holly enjoys spending her free time reading, knitting, and gardening.

Contact: holly.vanwieren@newsummitcharter.org

Betty Jo is very excited to join the New Summit family as a Reading Interventionist! She feels like she has been a teacher all of her life – starting out “playing school” in her parents’ basement, teaching ESL in China, teaching 1st and 4th grade for seven years, homeschooling in Singapore, subbing in D-20 schools, and embracing her years as a stay-at-home mom of four for 16 years. She is currently finishing her certification to become an Academic Language Practitioner and has been 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 tiny Orange City, IA and has lived in Colorado Springs for 22 years.  From city to corn fields to mountains…she has appreciated it all!  She loves to eat unique ethnic food with her husband, take long walks and hikes, read books under her favorite fleece, engage in long talks with friends, and see children smile. She is most excited about getting to know a bunch of new families and faces this year at New Summit!
 

Office Staff

Nikki ReichertNikki 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.

Contact: nikki.reichert@newsummitcharter.org

Amanda RoderickAmanda 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!
 
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 grandbabies. 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.
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