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Elementary Staff Directory


    Julie DePasse


    Julie DePasse loves being a part of the BFA team! She began her career after graduating from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a degree in Elementary Education. She first taught in Littleton Public Schools for a few years, then later at Monument Academy Charter School where she was introduced to the Core Knowledge Sequence. She enjoys being at BFA where the curriculum is packed with exciting subjects to study, including lots of history and science!

    Julie grew up in Littleton, where she discovered her love of reading and learning. She believes that reading helps people see the world from a whole different window! She still loves to read today and hopes to share her love of reading and learning with her students. In addition to reading, she also likes watching movies, playing games (including Minecraft) with her grown-up boys, and traveling with her family. Her favorite trips have been to Europe and Japan. She also has a big, silly dog, Buster, who takes her for walks on the Highline Canal Trail…whenever he gets the chance.

    Mrs. DePasse is looking forward to working with you to create an electrifying year for our BFA kiddos. GO LIGHTNING BOLTS!

    Faculty Favorites

        Candace McGinty

        Candace has been teaching more than 14 years now. Candace received her Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Candace taught third grade in Clyde, Texas and later moved to Aurora, Colorado to teach first, second, and third grades. In 1993, Candace had her first child and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She went back to teaching after raising her children. 

        Candace earned an endorsement in Literacy from Colorado College. She uses it to reinforce literacy for her Kindergarten students.  Candace has been teaching first grade at Ben Franklin Academy for 10 years.   She is now teaching our sweet Kindergarten students.   She truly loves the students and families at BFA. She is heavily invested in the Core Knowledge curriculum, given that her own two children attended a Core Knowledge charter school. 

        Candace lives in Highlands Ranch with her husband Scott of 28 years and a cute wiener dog named Wilson. She has a son, Preston, who is pursuing a nursing degree  and a daughter, Monica, who teaches elementary school in the Denver area.   She enjoys cooking, reading and crafting in her spare time.

        Candace truly loves the BFA community and can’t wait to meet her new class of Kindergarteners!

        Faculty Favorites

            Monica McGinty

            Monica McGinty is so excited to join the BFA team this upcoming school year! Monica is a Colorado native and recently returned home after spending 7 years in the Los Angeles area. She earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Social Work from Pepperdine University, and went on to get her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Western Governors University. This is Monica’s second year of teaching and she is especially excited to focus on the Core Knowledge curriculum, as she herself attended a Core Knowledge charter school. 
            Monica lives in downtown Denver and enjoys all that the city has to offer. She also likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Since she has been back in Colorado, she tries to take advantage of all that the state has to offer. She loves to backpack, run, hike, and ski. Monica is also excited to live close to family and looks forward to spending more time with them this upcoming year. 

                Kayla Murray

                Kayla will be beginning her 14th year of teaching kindergarten this year. A Colorado native, she attended schools in the Douglas County School District. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Elementary Education where she played for the women’s soccer team for four years on an athletic scholarship. She received her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix.

                She lives in Lakewood with her husband Jay, her son Joel, daughter Blair, and golden retriever dog Jax. Two kids keep her very busy at home, but she loves every minute of it. Kayla enjoys spending time with family, watching her son and daughter grow each day, running, traveling, playing soccer, and watching movies. She has been teaching at Ben Franklin Academy since it opened and she feels so fortunate to be a part of the BFA family. She is looking forward to another great year!

                Faculty Favorites
                  1st Grade

                    Brenda Bauer

                    Brenda has been teaching for more than 15 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.  Last year Brenda decided to take on a new challenge and is joining the first grade team.  She is super excited to begin her 2nd year with the 1st graders in the classroom!

                    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 a Sophomore at Texas Christian University.  Her youngest daughter, Kaylyn, will be a Junior at Mountain Vista High School.

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

                    Faculty Favorites

                        Staci Ferguson


                        This will be Staci’s third year teaching first grade at BFA. She was also a founding board member of BFA and served as the Secretary for five years. She is a graduate of Western Governor’s University where she earned her bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies (K-6). She also earned her certification in Orton-Gillingham reading instruction. Staci is excited for another year in first grade, as she loves being a part of her students’ sense of pride and accomplishment as they learn and grow.

                        Staci lives in Roxborough with her Husband (Henry), son Kyle (14) and pup Grizz. She loves to be in Colorado’s outdoors doing activities like camping, hiking, paddle boarding, and kayaking, to name a few. Staci also loves baking, decorating cakes, and crafting.


                            Jenna Lukasiewicz


                            Jenna has been teaching for 3 years. She is a Colorado State graduate (go Rams!) and is licensed in both Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. In her 3 years of teaching she has taught Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and reading intervention. Growing up with seven siblings (4 brothers and 3 sisters), Jenna considers her classroom an extension of her family. She has a high expectation for her students, believing they have the capability to encourage and challenge each other. Through a formative year, she loves seeing their character develop as they learn and grow academically. In her free time, you would most likely find Jenna hanging out with her family. She loves a good laugh and breaking out her dance moves when a good song comes on. Jenna is a Colorado native and enjoys all things outdoors: hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, and backpacking. Jenna is excited to be joining the BFA community as a first grade teacher!

                            Faculty Favorites

                                Erin Triplett

                                Erin is very enthusiastic about continuing her teaching career at Ben Franklin Academy for the 4th year.  

                                Erin is a graduate of Western Governors University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (K-6). After graduation, she also received her endorsement in gifted and talented education and her Master’s in Instructional Design.  She has gone on to continue her education and just completed her certification in Orton Gillingham.  Erin has always enjoyed enriching young minds starting with her own children.  For ten years, she not only homeschooled her own children in pre-school through 6th grade, but countless other children in her highly rated in-home pre-school.  The children left with a love of school, a love of reading, and a love of learning.

                                One of Erin’s passions is spending quality time with her family enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors.  Camping, kayaking, and paddleboarding are just a few of the activities she does with her husband (Jake) and two children, Jeffrey (19) & Grace (15), as they camp across Colorado, along with their 3 pups Cloe, Raven, and Quill.  Erin also has made it a priority to travel to foreign countries to experience interesting cultures and customs, her favorite was Greece with its hospitality, gorgeous beaches, and delicious food.

                                The new school year brings challenges, rewards, and opportunities but Erin eagerly looks forward to meeting her new class of first graders.

                                  2nd Grade

                                    Nicole Harms

                                    Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Nicole relocated to Colorado in 2004.

                                    Nicole has been teaching elementary-age children for 22 years. She started in a public school in the Chicago area, and then taught at a Core Knowledge charter school in Littleton.

                                    Nicole graduated from Concordia Lutheran University with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education, specializing in English and Language Arts.

                                    Her eldest son is at ASU and her youngest at Mountain Vista. In their spare time, Nicole enjoys biking, going to concerts, skiing, and hiking. Most of all, Nicole loves to teach children. Nicole describes herself as a very open person and urges you to feel free to contact her.

                                    Nicole is there for the parents and the children: “together we are a TEAM!”

                                    Faculty Favorites

                                        Erica Hildebrand

                                        Erica is excited to begin her seventh year teaching Second Grade at Ben Franklin Academy!!  She has worked as a classroom teacher for 14 years and as a Literacy Specialist for 5 years.  Erica graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a BA in English/Elementary Education.  She also earned a M.Ed in Reading/Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University.  In her spare time, Erica enjoys reading, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, cooking and spending time with her husband, three children and her dogs.

                                        Faculty Favorites

                                            Erin Hinz

                                            Erin Hinz is very excited to begin her eighth year of teaching at Ben Franklin Academy. Shortly after receiving her degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder, she enrolled in the University of Northern Colorado to obtain a Master of Arts in Teaching. She was fortunate to complete her student teaching here, in second grade, at Ben Franklin Academy. She taught fourth grade her first year, third grade her second year, and is now very excited to continue her educational journey in the second grade. This is her sixth year teaching 2nd grade.

                                            In her free time, Erin enjoys hiking, cooking, yoga, Zumba, singing, spending time with her two year old son Tate and husband Alex, and playing all types of sports. She is very passionate about working with children and families, and welcomes all to stop in at any time for a question, concern, or even a friendly hello. Erin is very eager for the new school year, and is happy to be a part of the BFA family.

                                            Faculty Favorites

                                                Kelly Whelan

                                                Kelly is extremely excited to be teaching at Ben Franklin Academy as she continues her teaching career.  In 2011 she received her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with an Elementary Education license from Metropolitan State College of Denver. In 2014 she received her Masters in Special Education from Grand Canyon University and is currently working towards her ASL certification.  Kelly was born and raised in Colorado and is following in her mother’s footsteps (a second grade teacher for many years).  In her free time, Kelly enjoys snowboarding, hiking, dancing, snowshoeing and water skiing. She is also a Zumba instructor 2 days a week on the side.

                                                Faculty Favorites


                                                  3rd Grade

                                                    Allie Ciardullo

                                                    3rd Grade


                                                    Ms. Ciardullo is so excited to teach third grade! This will be her second year teaching at Ben Franklin Academy. Ms. Ciardullo holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University. She is a Colorado native and grew up in Parker. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to be outside, travel to the beach or watch baseball. Ms. Ciardullo truly enjoys each day with her students and feels so fortunate to have a job that she absolutely loves. Her goal is to ensure each student has a memorable third grade year; full of laughter, learning and fun!

                                                    Faculty Favorites

                                                        Jennifer Gautier

                                                        Mrs. Gautier is so excited to be working at Ben Franklin this year!  This is her 13th year in education.  She has been an elementary classroom teacher and PE teacher.  Mrs. Gautier was raised in Colorado and also lived in Virginia and Texas. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Zach, for 20 years and they have three boys.  Micah is going into 11th grade at Valor and Caleb will be a 9th grader. Jake is a 7th grader at BFA.  As a founding family, they are so thankful to have been a part of this amazing school since the doors opened.  This is going to be a great year and she can not wait to get to know each and every one of her precious students and love them like her own! 

                                                        Faculty Favorites

                                                            Angela Loehr

                                                            3rd Grade


                                                                Linda Wilson


                                                                Mrs. Wilson joined Ben Franklin Academy during its inaugural year as a fifth grade teacher. After taking a few years off to care for her grandson, she returned as a third grade teacher. She states that this school has a strong and lively community where all are invested in the educational and emotional growth of each student.

                                                                Mrs. Wilson is married to Chuck and they have three grown children; Michael and his wife Danielle and her two grandsons, Sawyer and Walker, Tyler and his fiancé Rozely, and Jonathan and his wife Layney.
                                                                  4th Grade

                                                                    Kristin Arnold


                                                                    I am originally from Minnesota and my husband and I moved to Colorado for the scenic landscape and our love for skiing, hiking, and biking. We have two teen-aged daughters that we love to travel with and they keep us busy with all of their various activities. This year will mark our 20th year in Colorado!  

                                                                    While attending college in MN, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Health Education & Corporate Fitness and after moving to CO, I attended CSU and earned a Master’s in Education and Human Resource Studies. Throughout my professional career, there has always been a “teaching” component to my work so as my own children grew older and more independent, I took the opportunity to step into the role of substitute teacher at BFA. I am thrilled to finally have my own classroom this year and I feel very fortunate to be joining the BFA staff.  It is going to be a great year! 

                                                                    Faculty Favorites

                                                                        Amy Lindgren

                                                                        Amy is thrilled to continue with the fourth grade team as she begins her 7th year at Ben Franklin Academy. She remembers fourth grade to be one of the most influential years in her life. It was in this grade that she started to develop her life long passion to become a classroom teacher.

                                                                        As a Colorado native, Amy attended Arapahoe High School and went on to go to Azusa Pacific University in Southern California for undergrad. After graduation she moved back to Colorado to continue her education. Amy attended MSU Denver where she received her teaching license and Masters in Education.

                                                                        In her free time she loves to sew, paint, and spend time with friends. When she gets the chance, she loves to travel to as many new places as possible. 

                                                                        Amy is inspired by the way Ben Franklin uses Core Knowledge to produce life long learners and is excited to continue to be a part of this great school and community. 

                                                                        Faculty Favorites

                                                                            Karen Wall

                                                                            Karen is thrilled to be teaching another year of fourth grade at BFA. This will be Karen’s 14th year teaching fourth grade. Karen earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix in 2009 and received a bachelor’s degree in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Utah State University.

                                                                            Karen has two children of her own, and she gained five bonus children when she married Travis Wall seven years ago. She grew up in Littleton and feels lucky to have a large extended family in the area. Karen enjoys traveling, attending sporting events, and reading books by the pool.  She describes herself as the ultimate soccer mom, and some of her favorite things include Coke Zero, the beach, pedicures, flip-flops, chocolate, and spending time with her husband, kids, and especially her grandkids. Karen looks forward to meeting more of the wonderful BFA families and to an amazing school year.

                                                                            Faculty Favorites

                                                                                Angie Van Wyk

                                                                                Angie is very excited to be teaching 4th grade at Ben Franklin Academy. Angie went to CU Boulder (Go Buffs!) and has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix. This will be her 17th year teaching.

                                                                                Angie grew up in Littleton and is lucky to have a large extended family living in the Denver area. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Trevor, for 25 years. They have three boys, a junior in college,senior in high school and a sophomore in high school.

                                                                                With having three boys any free time is usually on a baseball field or basketball court.  Angie loves spending time with her family and friends.  She also enjoys watching movies, playing tennis, reading a good book, and getting pedicures! Angie is excited to meet her class and share her enthusiasm for learning.  PLAY BALL.

                                                                                Faculty Favorites

                                                                                  5th Grade

                                                                                    Rachelle Calahan

                                                                                    Long-Term Sub


                                                                                        Lyndell Dunn

                                                                                        Mrs. Dunn is thrilled to continue as a part of the BFA family, where she has been teaching 5th grade since January of 2015.  Prior to that, she taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in California and Utah.  She holds a BS in Elementary Education (cum laude) from BYU, and a MS in Mathematics Education, K-6.  She is adored by her dog, her four children, and her husband of more than 20 years.  Mrs. Dunn doesn’t get around to participating in sports as much as she once did, but still enjoys taking long walks and spectating at each of her children’s games, shows, dances and events.  People are surprised to learn that she speaks fluent French, lived in Geneva as a young adult, and has a penchant for Swiss chocolates, because she’s neither fussy nor fancy!

                                                                                        Faculty Favorites

                                                                                            Susan Hodge


                                                                                            Mrs. Hodge was born and spent the first half of her life in Tennessee.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and completed a Master of Education in Elementary Teaching.  She met and married her husband, and together they began an adventure of living in seven states and raising two daughters.  She has many stories from the different places she’s lived and loves to tell them to students to make connections to learning.

                                                                                            Mrs. Hodge has worked with children wherever she lived.  She taught several elementary grades in Tennessee.  She taught in a preschool in Hawaii.  She managed the children’s section of a small library in Nevada and worked in a school library in Georgia.  She taught elementary and middle school music in California and Colorado.  The only state left is Texas where she volunteered in the schools that her girls attended.  All has come full circle by being back in the elementary classroom in Colorado.  

                                                                                            Mrs. Hodge is an avid crafter, a gardener, and cook.  She loves to create and never met a craft she didn’t want to recreate.  She and her husband garden in the summer months with tomatoes as the most important crop.  In the kitchen, she thinks of dessert first with chocolate or lemon desserts at the top of the list.  With the time left, she loves to read mysteries, historical fiction, and cookbooks.

                                                                                            Mrs. Hodge enjoys being at Ben Franklin Academy, seeing how the students and teachers work hard to create a great learning environment, and knows that she is there to nurture that learning environment.   She will also take every opportunity herself to learn.  She believes that teaching children a love for learning is her most important job.

                                                                                            Faculty Favorites

                                                                                                Jessica Richardson

                                                                                                Jessica Richardson is a motivated and hard-working collaborative educator seeking to boost engagement, improve test scores, and tackle learning from any angle at an innovative school such as Ben Franklin Academy. She has been teaching in the public school setting for 3 years and is passionate about authentic and integrated curriculum.