Administrative & Support Staff

    LaCretia Gelley

    Performing Arts

    LaCretia Gelley is a director, teacher, producer, music director, choreographer and professional singer. Through her work, she not only nurtures aspiring artists, she also explores how theatre, and the arts in general, can challenge participants, both arts-makers and audiences, to embrace the idea of storytelling and the amazing power that stories have to remind us that we are all connected and have shared stories and experiences. Arts education exists to create more complete humans, who have curious minds, are critical thinkers, and are productive people.

    LaCretia has been a part of Audience of One Youth Theater since 2009 and also teaches at area schools and programs, as well as designs curriculum. She has directed and produced dozens of shows locally and has acted in many shows like Antigone, Pirates of Penzance, and Guys and Dolls. She holds a MA in Education, many certifications in the arts and physical movement, and was voted best director for Mary Poppins, the musical. She has a private studio for voice, acting, and audition prep. She is a life-long student and has spent years completing continuing education and is currently working on her terminal MFA degree and has her Hair and Makeup certification. Her passion is helping artists to understand how truly unique and special they are, encouraging them to realize their full potential.

    Faculty Favorites

        Julie Ladner

        Specials AM Aide, Kindie PM Aide

         
        Julie is so excited to be a part of the BFA team!! She lives in Highlands Ranch with her son Kaiden who attends BFA. She is a Louisiana/ Mississippi Gulf Coast native and has been in Colorado since 2005. She loves hanging out with her son, going to movies, shopping,organizing, and just being home!
         

            Heidi Drees

            Kindie AM & 1st Grade PM Aide

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                Debra Wylie

                Kindie AM Aide, 5th Grade PM Aide

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                This is my second year as the 5th grade afternoon instructional aide. I enjoy being a part of the Ben Franklin Academy family and helping out however I am needed. Sharing responsibilities with the teachers and getting to know the students are the best parts of my day. I’m originally from Texas but have lived in Colorado since 2008. My family and I enjoy spending time in the mountains whenever possible. Going home to Texas and spending time with my dad and family is also important to me. My daughter and son in law are also in Highlands Ranch with my two Colorado-born grandsons:). Although I’ve spent my career in law firms in many capacities, it’s a assisting in the day to day care of my grandsons prior to them starting school that has been my true calling. Now sharing my passion for the welfare, safety and happiness of our youth with the fine people at Ben Franklin Academy is icing on the cake. Having been a part of the carpool team, I have likewise gotten to know a lot of the parents of kiddos at Ben Franklin … it has been a pleasure getting to know so many good people and a reward to share in the day to day success of our school and our kiddos. 

                Faculty Favorites

                    Alyson Henbest

                    1st Grade Aide

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                    Alyson graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities as well as a Masters of Arts in Teaching. She taught Kindergarten and First Grade in Texas, Michigan, and Tennessee before stepping out of the classroom to start their family. Now a mom of four (two BFA graduates now at Mountain Vista High School, two boys still at BFA) and after working at her church’s preschool for the past few years, Alyson is thrilled to be working at her kiddos’ much loved school! Having relocated here in 2013, exploring this beautiful state, spending time with her husband of 20 years and family (mostly in ice rinks during hockey season), reading biographies and historical fiction, and taking walks/hikes have become her favorite pastimes. She believes every child can learn and excel when they have at least one caring adult in their life. She is looking forward to working with the students and teachers at BFA this year as a First Grade instructional aide!

                    Faculty Favorites

                        Mika Hurd

                        1st Grade Aide

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                        Faculty Favorites

                            Larissa Meister

                            2nd Grade Aide

                             
                            Larissa Meister has worked as a first and second grade teacher. After taking a pause from teaching to raise her family, she is very excited to return to the classroom as a second grade instructional aide. She is married to a wonderful husband, Chip and her three children, Landon, Emily and Owen attend BFA. She enjoys all things outdoors, especially hiking and spends her spare time driving her kids around to various sporting activities.
                             

                                Holly Melka

                                2nd Grade AM

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                                Holly is an Instructional Assistant for 2nd grade. She has been with BFA since 2015. She is a Colorado native. She graduated from Metro State University with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Psychology. She has been married for 25 years and has 3 kids all in their 20’s.
                                She enjoys reading, baking, spending time with family, taking walks, photography and home decorating projects.
                                 
                                Faculty Favorites

                                    Richa Mitchell

                                    2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade Aide

                                     
                                    Richa is excited to be a part of the Theatre department at BFA! She worked in news and magazine coverage prior to Ben Franklin. Richa graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Journalism. She is married and has a sweet daughter, Shaila. In her free time, Richa enjoys writing, spending time with her family, and visiting her favorite city, Los Angeles.
                                     

                                        Diane Hooley

                                        Third Grade Aide

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                                            Macy Chole

                                            PM 3rd & 4th Grade Aide

                                             
                                            Macy is so excited to be a part of BFA! She recently graduated high school and is now taking a gap year before heading off to college to study nursing. In high school she worked at a gelato shop as well as a pilates studio, and she has done babysitting for many years. She loves kids and adores working with them! She enjoys yoga, traveling, nature, and spending time with family and friends.
                                             

                                                Wyatt Bangert

                                                4th Grade Aide (M-TH in the AM; Friday Full-Day)

                                                Wyatt Bangert is currently a senior at the Metropolitan State University of Denver pursuing a degree in History with certification in secondary education. He is 26 years old with a passion for supporting students to reach their fullest potential. With a patient and pursuable demeanor, Wyatt is skilled in creating an inclusive and positive environment where students are able to excel and feel encouraged to participate. He was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and the youngest of 7. He is eager to get his educational career started and looks forward to the opportunity of working at Ben Franklin Academy.
                                                 

                                                    Shalane Adrian

                                                    5th Grade AM Aide/Kindie PM Aide

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                                                    Shalane is excited to be a part of the Ben Franklin Academy Team as an Instructional Aide!

                                                    Faculty Favorites

                                                     

                                                        Khristen Fritzsche

                                                        Middle School Aide

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                                                        Khristen is excited to be starting her 9th year at BFA. She enjoys being a middle school aide, and getting to watch the kids grow and mature through their years in middle school. She has four kids–the youngest is a senior at ThunderRidge high school–and two very spoiled dogs. She and her husband are quite busy, but in their free time they like to bike ride, hang out with their kids and travel. Disney World is her happy place. She is excited for another great year at BFA! 

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                                                            Nikki Schmit

                                                            Middle School Aide

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                                                                Megan Stoft

                                                                PM Middle School

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                                                                Megan is excited to be joining the Ben Franklin Middle School team as an Instructional Aide. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Communications and has her Elementary teaching credential from San Jose State University. She loves working with children of all ages and loves to learn new things. Megan is a California native but has been in Highlands Ranch for almost 8 years. She is married and a mom of 3 BFA students. She loves animals and has a dog, 2 rabbits, a gerbil and a parakeet! In her free time, Megan loves to garden and play with her pets. She loves the ocean and is always excited to travel to a new beach and visit family in California! She is looking forward to a great year at Ben Franklin and getting to know all of our amazing middle schoolers!

                                                                Faculty Favorites

                                                                    Monte Brook

                                                                    Facilities Manager

                                                                        Rachel Rodriguez

                                                                        Lunch Aide

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                                                                        Rachel loves the outdoors and enjoys spending time with her family. She is a plant lover and enjoys tending to her plants. She is also a great cook and is always eager to try new recipes.

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                                                                            Deb Williams

                                                                            Librarian

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                                                                            Deb grew up in Dallas, Texas and attended Eastfield College where she studied Early Childhood Development.  For many years she was a foster parent for severely abused children which was heartbreaking and challenging, but also rewarding. She wanted to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren so in 2017 she made the move to Colorado from Ohio and came to work at BFA as the 4th grade aide. The following year she became our Librarian and has been happily reading to the students ever since. All three of her grandchildren attended BFA but they are now headed to college and Heritage High School.

                                                                            In her free time she loves to read (surprise), swim, spend time with her grandchildren and love on her granddogs.

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                                                                                Colleen Bobbin

                                                                                Director of Admissions & Records

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                                                                                Colleen joined the Ben Franklin Academy office staff in January 2013. She worked part-time as the receptionist and then, from 2015-2018, shared the office manager role. In June 2018, she transitioned to her current role of Director of Admissions & Records, handling student records and all new K-8 student enrollment.

                                                                                Colleen is originally from New Jersey but was raised in Northern California. She moved to Colorado from San Francisco in 2001 and married her husband, Nathan, two years later. They have a daughter and a son, both of whom started at BFA when the doors opened in September 2011.

                                                                                Colleen thrives on the interaction and fast-paced environment of the Ben Franklin Academy office. When she’s not working or with her family, however, she loves to run. It’s a great way to stay fit, unwind and experience the beauty of Colorado.

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                                                                                    Peggy Brown

                                                                                    RN, BFA's Nurse Consultant

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                                                                                    Peggy is excited to begin her third year as the School Nurse Consultant for Ben Franklin Academy!  Though she has lived in Colorado for the past 29 years, she is originally from Portage WI. She graduated with a BSN from The University of San Diego, and has been a pediatric nurse throughout her career. She has worked in children’s hospitals in Milwaukee WI and San Diego CA,, as well as in Public health. Peggy has been a school nurse consultant in Douglas County for the past 24 years.

                                                                                    Peggy loves being a nurse! Her hobbies include riding her ebike, singing in choir and enjoying Colorado with her family.  She raised her children in Highlands Ranch and has lived in Highlands Ranch the past 26 years.
                                                                                     
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                                                                                        Jennifer Jones 

                                                                                        Office Manager

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                                                                                        Jen is excited to be part of the Ben Franklin Academy staff.  She has been a part of BFA since the first year when her daughter started Kindergarten. Jen moved from Fairfax, VA, nine years ago and loves living in Colorado! Her husband and two kids enjoy being part of BFA and the community.  In her free time, she volunteers at the school in the classroom or with PTO, loves to crochet, travel and hikes every chance she gets.
                                                                                         
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                                                                                            Carrie Keen

                                                                                            Communications Manager

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                                                                                            Carrie has served the BFA community since before the school opened its doors. She is a BFA founding family and, prior to her current role, dedicated her free time toward volunteering on various BFA committees. She has served as the Communication Manager for seven years. She received a BSBA with an emphasis in marketing from Saint Louis University. Prior to moving to Colorado, Carrie spent 11 years with the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis. Carrie enjoys spending time with family, friends and volunteering.

                                                                                                Shannon Jensen

                                                                                                School Resource Officer

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                                                                                                Deputy Shannon Jensen is an experienced and accomplished School Resource Officer (SRO) with 14 years of law enforcement experience. She obtained her undergraduate degree and Doctor of Law in Northern California, where she also began her law enforcement career before moving to Colorado with her family. Deputy Jensen has been with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for eight years and has had various assignments, including serving the community as a cold case detective. After solving a 40-year-old Colorado cold case, she was featured on Dateline NBC and People Magazine Investigates. Deputy Jensen graduated from the National Association of School Resource Officers Basic and Advanced School Resource Officer courses. She also was recently recognized as a NASRO practitioner, which requires years of training and service as a school resource officer. When she’s not in uniform, you can find Deputy Jensen exploring the outdoors, soaking in Colorado hot springs, cheering on her favorite baseball team, or enjoying a concert at Red Rocks.

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                                                                                                    Jeanelle Korhonen

                                                                                                    Receptionist

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                                                                                                    Jeanelle is excited to work as a Receptionist in the front office at BFA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest but she has been enjoying living in the always sunny Highlands Ranch since late 2016. She is a Mom to two boys and two fur babies. In her free time, you can catch her doing some form of exercise and enjoying time exploring the outdoors with her family.

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                                                                                                        Kelley Marie Paulson

                                                                                                        Health Aide

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                                                                                                        Kelley Marie Paulson is excited to be the BFA Health Aide. Born and bred in Kentucky, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater with a minor in Art and Language Arts from Northern Kentucky University. Kelley Marie moved to Colorado in 2001, where she met and married her husband, Karl. They have welcomed 5 wonderful children into their lives, Christian, Genevieve, Callister, Flettcher, and Cassandra (4 of them have attended BFA). Together with her family, Kelley Marie enjoys spending time in Steamboat Springs, where they can be seen at the lake boating/SUP/kayaking, hiking, fishing, and relaxing.  She also enjoys being a Dance/Scout/Golf/Soccer/Baseball/etc Mom. Kelley Marie also owns her own business making Artisan Bath & Body products. Kelley Marie joined the BFA staff in 2021 and is grateful to work with all the wonderful students and staff.

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                                                                                                            Leigh Savoy

                                                                                                            BASE/Camp Director & Makerspace Coordinator

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                                                                                                            Leigh is honored to be part of the Ben Franklin Academy team. She has worked at Ben Franklin Academy since 2011, and is currently the Director of the BASE and Summer Camp programs. She worked in the Preschool program for 12 years as well. 

                                                                                                            Leigh and her husband Frank have been married for 34 years and have lived many places thanks to the Military. But by far Colorado is the most awesome place to be!  They have three wonderful children, two sons and a daughter.  In her free time, Leigh likes to spend time with her family, playing tennis and spending time outdoors in the beautiful Colorado weather. 

                                                                                                            Leigh loves working with all children because of their openness and willingness to learn and have fun.  She loves to be part of the BFA community and to be able to interact with the children and parents alike.

                                                                                                            Leigh is excited to begin the school year and make a positive impact in your children’s lives.

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                                                                                                                Brenda Bauer

                                                                                                                Elementary PE Teacher

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                Brenda has been teaching for more than 18 years.  She did her undergraduate work at the University of Arizona and received a BA Exercise Sports Science.  She received her Masters in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University.  She has taught Physical Education at the middle school and elementary level most of her career.  She was so excited to have the opportunity to help open BFA and create the Physical Education program.  

                                                                                                                Brenda is a Colorado native and loves all of the active opportunities Colorado provides.  Brenda lives with her Husband and 2 daughters in Castle Rock.  Her oldest daughter, Brianna, will be in her 2nd year of Law School at Pepperdine University.  Her youngest daughter, Kaylyn, will be a Junior at San Diego State University.

                                                                                                                Brenda loves the BFA community and teaching at a STEAM school where all students are provided with a well-rounded education!

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                                                                                                                  Bree Dunn

                                                                                                                  Life Skills Instructor

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                                                                                                                  Miss. Dunn is excited to further her involvement with Ben Franklin Academy. She loves the students and is passionate about creating an environment that the students feel safe in. She has her BS in Marine Biology from BYU-Hawai’i and loved her time in education. In previous years, she has worked in a variety of child care positions, from nannying to rearing children’s excitement for the sciences on a sailboat. Last year she got to know many students as a substitute teacher, and that furthered her interest in teaching. In her free time, she likes to spend her days outdoors enjoying warm weather. Sporting events are a great hobby of hers, whether she is playing or spectating!

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                                                                                                                      Lauren Flint

                                                                                                                      Elementary Science Teacher

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                      After being a substitute at BFA for the past three years, Lauren is very excited to now be the Elementary Science Specialist! She grew up in Littleton and graduated from Columbine high school. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology with a biomedical emphasis and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Lauren also studied Emergency Medical Services at Aims Community College and became EMT certified along with additional special certificates. After graduating she worked in the medical field for several years before returning to school to complete a Master’s Degree. Lauren earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida (go Gators!) in Forensic DNA Analysis and Serology.  

                                                                                                                      Shortly after earning her degree, she became a stay-at-home mom and spent seven years taking care of her two kids before returning to work. She loves being around all the kids and is looking forward to being here full-time this year!

                                                                                                                      In her spare time Lauren enjoys getting outside to hike, bike, swim or read. Her family loves to adventure around the country and they typically go on two road trips per year! They love visiting national parks and monuments and trying local food. They also love to take their dog, Tucker, anywhere they can! 

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                          Ali Hinkle

                                                                                                                          K-8 Art Teacher

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                                                                                                                          Ali has been teaching for more than twenty years. She graduated from Sussex University in England with a bachelor’s degree in Art and Education and went on to teach in England, Spain and Italy for many years before coming to America in 1994. After spending a few years at home with her children, she began teaching again. She has been teaching art in Core Knowledge schools in Douglas County since 2005. She lives in Highlands Ranch with her husband, John, who is a native Coloradan. They have two children who are busy pursuing their own careers. Their daughter and son-in-law are medics in the Navy and their son is an engineer working in Switzerland. She loves teaching art and is proud to have been a part of Ben Franklin Academy from the beginning. She is also excited to be able to teach at a S.T.E.A.M. school where art is considered to be an important part of a well-rounded education.

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                                                                                                                            Jaime Johnson

                                                                                                                            K-5 Music

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                                                                                                                            Ms. Jaime Johnson is happy to be back as the K-8 music director at Ben Franklin Academy. She is responsible for directing all performances and after school classes as well as teaching elementary general music and middle school music and theatre electives.

                                                                                                                            Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from University of Redlands and a Masters in Music Education from University of Colorado Boulder. Outside of Ben Franklin, Ms. Johnson is the music director for the theatre group Audience of One and sings with Skyline Chorus, a barbershop group. Prior to BFA, she taught band and orchestra at three Douglas County schools and K-8 general music at a charter school in Denver.

                                                                                                                            Ms. Johnson truly believes in the power of the performing arts and is thrilled BFA is a STEAM school. Her role as a music teacher is to teach skills that will help students succeed in school and in life such as working with others, listening, storytelling, speaking in front of a group, being a good audience and accepting other people’s interests. Through the arts, she has seen students come out of their shells and embrace learning.

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                                                                                                                              Beth Konesky

                                                                                                                              Middle School S.T.E.A.M.

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                                                                                                                              With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Creighton University, more than 10 years in the computer industry as a programmer and network engineer, along with many years as a Technology Teacher, Beth has a plethora of ideas and hands-on activities to inspire and challenge students. A die-hard Broncos fan, Beth loves Colorado, the outdoors, her two teenage daughters, and learning new things!

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                                                                                                                                Craig Macias

                                                                                                                                Middle School PE & Health

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                                                                                                                                I am a sixth year teacher and a graduate of Colorado State University.  My course work and life have prepared me to be an informed, dynamic, professional in the Health and Physical Education field. In high school I was on the baseball, football and tennis teams where my coaches taught me the value of hard work, dedication, being a stand up individual and many other life lessons that I hope I can pass along to my students.   I do not only teach Health and Physical Education, I also live it.  I like to think that I practice what I preach!  Some of my favorite hobbies are exercising and playing/coaching different sports.  I have coached elite youth baseball, football and golf throughout the last ten years which has helped inspire me to pursue my dream of becoming a Health and Physical Education teacher and Athletic Director.  I love to try new things and spend time with my family and friends.  Lastly I truly love and have a lot of passion for what I do.  I believe I have the best job in the world, and get up every day thankful that I get to do what I do.  I love working with all my students, and having the opportunity to teach them how to be healthy and physically fit.

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                                                                                                                                  Kyle Nolting

                                                                                                                                  STEM Coordinator

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                                                                                                                                  Kyle Nolting is the STEM Coordinator at Ben Franklin Academy. Kyle is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in education from the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. He has a background in K-12 science and technology education while teaching for the New York City department of education. In the classroom, he has interests in STEM curriculum design, ASD Education, Gifted & Talented Education, Multicultural Teaching Practices, LGBTQ+ Youth Advocacy and DEI Work. Outside of the classroom, Kyle is interested in hiking, birding, fly fishing and general all around spending time outdoors. He is excited to meet you on campus!

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                                                                                                                                      Laura Tickle

                                                                                                                                      K-5 Technology

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                                                                                                                                      Teaching has always been a passion of Laura’s, and she loves being a member of the Ben Franklin Academy staff. Laura has taught for many years. She has taught fourth grade and currently is the K-5 Specials technology teacher. Technology is important to BFA and Laura is able to help effectively integrate technology into the hands of students at BFA.

                                                                                                                                      Laura received her Bachelor’s degree in 2009 in Elementary Education from Purdue University. She has her certification in Linguistically Diverse Education from the University of Colorado at Denver, as well as a Masters in Information and Learning Technologies from the University of Colorado at Denver. Laura also received an award for ‘Outstanding Student in the Program’ at the end of her Masters program course work. This ILT program not only allowed Laura to grow with her own personal education, but it helps bring many of the latest ideas and projects related to technology into the classrooms at BFA. 

                                                                                                                                      A Colorado native, Laura loves working out, watching football and spending time with her family.

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                                                                                                                                        Sarah Harrell

                                                                                                                                        Student Support Coordinator

                                                                                                                                        504 Coordinator
                                                                                                                                        K-4th Grade Learning Specialist
                                                                                                                                        English Language Development Teacher

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                                                                                                                                        Phone: 720-383-4519 ext. 3225

                                                                                                                                        Sarah Harrell is a Colorado native and received her B.A. from CU Boulder.  After working with students of all ages for several years in a variety of settings including residential treatment facilities and charter schools, she decided that she most enjoyed working with struggling students.  Sarah received her Literacy Intervention Specialist certificate from Colorado College.  She then went on to attain her M.Ed in Special Education. She works as one of the Learning Specialists as well as the 504 Coordinator and ELD teacher.

                                                                                                                                        She and her husband, David, have two college-age sons, D.C. and Xavier. In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family, traveling anywhere, reading, hiking, spending time outdoors, and watching Xavier play football. She also loves to volunteer with RezDawg Rescue.

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                                                                                                                                            Sarah Russell

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                                                                                                                                            Speech Language Pathologist

                                                                                                                                            Sarah Russell is an accomplished Speech Language Pathologist who graduated with her Masters degree from the University of Colorado and Undergraduate degree from Miami University.  She has always wanted to work with children and help them improve their communication skills.  Sarah’s experience covers many settings including schools, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and Purdue University as an associate professor.  After taking a few years off from her career to spend time with her three amazing young children and wonderful husband. Sarah is excited to be part of the BFA team!! As a fun fact, Sarah attended school in Michigan as a child, and for 8 years wore the same plaid as the students at BFA! What a coincidence!!

                                                                                                                                                Hugh Redford

                                                                                                                                                School Psychologist

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                                                                                                                                                This is going to be Hugh’s eleventh year at Ben Franklin Academy as the licensed school psychologist and 15th year with Douglas County. He received his Ed.S. in School Psychology from UCD and began working with students in 1996. Hugh really loves working at Ben Franklin because he is able to get into the classroom on a daily basis and teaches social emotional learning to students. Additionally he teaches bully-proofing to our fourth grade students.
                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                Hugh just celebrated his 26th anniversary with his wonderful wife. His daughter is at Berkeley and his son is at UCSD. When Hugh is not with his family you can find him at the ice rink playing ‘old-man’ hockey. 
                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                    Jennifer Woudenberg

                                                                                                                                                    MS Counselor

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                                                                                                                                                    I am the Middle School Counselor at BFA. I have been in education for over 15 years and love working with middle schoolers! I grew up in Colorado and love living here! I met my husband of 17 years in college in sunny southern CA where I was attending Chapman University. Somehow convinced the SoCal boy to move to CO to be with my family and we have been in Highlands Ranch for 16 years, raising our son and dogs! In my free time, I love spending time with my family outdoors in the mountains, going to the movies, at an Avs game, or doing anything with my son and husband!

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                                                                                                                                                      Angela Bond

                                                                                                                                                      Intervention Specialist: Gifted Education Facilitator

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                                                                                                                                                      I am a Texas Native, but I have lived in Highlands Ranch for more than 15 years.  I have an amazing husband and two awesome sons.  I love the mountains, the 4 seasons, and all of the outdoor opportunities that living in Colorado provides.  In my free time I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family, and reading for fun or to learn something new.  I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Masters Degree in Teaching from the University of Northern Colorado.  Before becoming a teacher, I worked as a Software Consultant with Deloitte Consulting and as a Project Manager at a small start up software company in Austin.  I was also lucky to be a stay-at-home mom when my sons were younger.

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                                                                                                                                                          Katie Murphy

                                                                                                                                                          Gifted and Talented Specialist

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                                                                                                                                                          Katie is starting her 23rd year of teaching. She has worked with students in grades three through five for most of her career and taught fifth grade for thirteen years. This upcoming year will be her eighth year as the Gifted and Talented Education Specialist at Ben Franklin Academy, her seventh year as the DCSD Gifted Charter School Lead, and her fifth year coaching volleyball. Teaching is her passion, and she loves every minute she spends helping students meet their academic potential.

                                                                                                                                                          Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Painting from the University of Missouri Kansas City, a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver, a Master of Science in Special Education from Western Governor’s University, and her Gifted and Talented Specialist endorsement from Regis University.

                                                                                                                                                          Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Katie moved to Colorado in 1999. She lives with her husband, Patrick, and their three children, Lillia (sophomore in college at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Aidan (11th grade at MVHS), Charlie (8th grade at BFA), and their dog, Stella, in Castle Pines. Katie spends most of her free time keeping up with her very active children. She also loves to spend time knee-deep in a great book, walking her dog on the beautiful trails throughout Colorado, or planning her family’s next vacation to a National Park. Her goal is to visit all 63 National Parks. Katie and her husband also enjoy gardening–she takes care of the flowers, and he’s in charge of the vegetables. As a family, they enjoy being outdoors, family game and movie nights, trips to the mountains, skiing, and visiting her family in Wisconsin.

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                                                                                                                                                            Erin Atkins

                                                                                                                                                            Middle School Moderate Needs Teacher

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                                                                                                                                                                Becky Archunde

                                                                                                                                                                Occupational Therapist

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                                                                                                                                                                Mrs. Archunde grew up in a small town of Iowa working on her family farm, learning more from the value of hard work than all of her schooling put together. She went to Simpson College in Iowa, majoring in Biology and staying active in many activities including leading the Student Service group and playing college-level basketball, including playing in the NCAA tournament. After exploring many medical fields, she decided Occupational Therapy was where she was being called and moved to Fort Collins for her Masters in OT at Colorado State University. Becky has worked in many different settings of OT throughout her nearly 20 years of practice including hand therapy, acute and subacute adult rehab, child/adolescent therapy, teaching OT students, and many years of management. She loves using her problem solving skills collaboratively with her team to find the solution to help those she works with. She believes every person has value and a purpose and tries to inspire everyone to find their potential to make a difference in the world.
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                                                                                                                                                                    Ellen Cain

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                                                                                                                                                                    Literacy Interventionist

                                                                                                                                                                    READ Act Coordinator

                                                                                                                                                                    This past school year Ellen completed her tenth year working with elementary-aged students in the Douglas County Charter School system. Prior to her Charter School experience, Ellen began her career working for a major test-prep company, where she prepared students for college, grad school, and medical licensure.  When not on the sidelines watching her kids play sports, Ellen can be found hiking, biking, snowboarding, or READing!

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                                                                                                                                                                        Paulette Graves

                                                                                                                                                                        Literacy Specialist

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                                                                                                                                                                        Mrs. Graves was an Elementary Education Teacher for 17 years in Michigan. She has a B.S. Michigan State University and her masters from Oakland University. She has experience in most elementary grades; she taught second, third, and fourth grades primarily and one year of kindergarten. Her hobbies include needlework, golf and watercolor painting.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Tracy Pierce

                                                                                                                                                                            Second Step Coordinator

                                                                                                                                                                            Tracy is thrilled to join the eighth grade team for her third year at Ben Franklin Academy.  Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in both Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree in Education from University of Colorado at Boulder. 

                                                                                                                                                                            Tracy grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, visiting Colorado often, and finally moving to Denver after college.  She has a wide variety of teaching experience that ranges from traditional classrooms to directing an overnight camp to homeschooling her own children in an RV for seven months while traveling the country.  

                                                                                                                                                                            Tracy and her husband, Josh, have two daughters who attend Ben Franklin Academy and an Australian Shepard named Sydney.  When she is not at school, Tracy spends time hiking, snow blading, watching Chicago sports (GO Cubs!), doing anything she can find at Michaels, and traveling to visit family or explore this beautiful world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Jackie Losasso

                                                                                                                                                                                Special Education Paraprofessional

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                                                                                                                                                                                Jackie has worked as an ISS para for several years in Douglas county.  She received her college degree from University of Northern Colorado.  She has worked with various special needs populations over the past 30 years.  Jackie lives in Highland Ranch with her husband and her dog Layla.  She has two adult children, a son and a daughter.  Jackie calls herself an energizer bunny; she enjoys yoga, weight lifting, and speed walking.  She has a unique passion for working with students, and receives tremendous joy from working with BFA students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Michelle Ziegler

                                                                                                                                                                                    Student Support

                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                    Michelle grew up in Illinois but moved to Colorado in high school. She received her bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming. After several years of being involved with special education, she decided her calling was to work with kids and is finishing up her masters from Grand Canyon University in Special Education.
                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                    When not working she enjoys raising chickens and spending time with her husband and two children.
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                                                                                                                                                                                        Emily Pitrone

                                                                                                                                                                                        Behavior/Learning Specialist

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