Staff Directory



2015 C3 Team Frame New Playground-1



Laura Datz – Kindergarten Teacher
Laura Datz

Originally from St. Louis, I have lived in Colorado for 16 years.  I attended college at Sewanee and received my Master’s from the University of Colorado Denver.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia, I taught ESL and learned to speak fluent Pohnpeian.  I have 7+ years of teaching experience in both private and public education.  My wonderful husband and I have a five year old son, and we enjoy hiking, camping, and travel.  I am very excited to be a part of C3!


Francie Dale – Kindergarten Teacher
Francie Dale
Francie Dale is our other kindergarten teacher this year. Francie, most recently from the Stephen Knight Center for Early Education, began teaching in Denver in 1999. She taught at Whittier and Rosedale Elementary Schools, and then began the Advanced Kindergarten (ADK) program at Bradley in 2005. Francie received a degree in Early Childhood Education from Central Florida.


Erika Kalin - Paraprofessional for Ms. Francie’s Kindergarten
I am a Denver Native and DPS kid through and through. I grew up in the Hilltop/Crestmoor neighborhood and attended Bromwell Elementary, Morey Middle School, and East High School. I then began my college career at Colorado State University. However, I decided I was not quite ready to finish my college education and took some time off. I then went back to school at the University of Colorado at Denver, in the heart of Downtown Denver. I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in Communications from UCD.

My passion for teaching came unexpectedly after I had numerous people suggest the career path to me, saying that it would be a perfect fit. I am excited and anxious to get my foot in the door and experience the wonderful world of teaching. I cannot wait for a fun-filled year ahead exploding with new experiences and exciting adventures.


Robin McCarthy – First Grade Teacher

Welcome to first grade! My name is Robin McCarthy and I will be working with your children teaching literacy. This includes reading, writing and spelling. I began teaching Third grade at Tollgate Elementary in Aurora Public Schools but I have been teaching first grade at Tollgate for the last four years. Tollgate is a school for Expeditionary Learning and I am discovering many commonalities with C3.

I grew up in Colorado and enjoy spending time in the mountains both skiing and hiking. I am a resident of Park Hill and my children, Sean 25, and Riley, 23 both attended Denver Public Schools. I’m looking forward to getting to know your family and watching your child grow.

Linda Durgin – First Grade Teacher

durginI’m honored to be joining the C3 team, teaching first-grade math, science, and social studies. My family and I hail from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. My husband, Frank, and I, along with two of our sons live in Denver and our oldest son moved back to Boston this spring. I’ll definitely share my love of the ocean and my seashell collection with your children! I visit every summer to reunite with our family and friends while enjoying the New England coastline. After teaching kindergarten and 1st graders in Massachusetts, I taught gifted learners at DU’s Ricks Center when we moved to Colorado. Then I found a home at Cory Elementary for years teaching first graders. I’m excited to be a part of C3’s mission and vision, which aligns with my passion for building a trusting community of children, their families, and myself as we grow and learn together.

Tina Garner – First Grade Stanley Intern
2016-08-02_11-09-44During the past two years, I was the Kindergarten Paraprofessional in Ms. Francie’s class, and I enjoyed that role so much that I have decided to pursue my Master’s degree in Education.  I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Florida, and have lived in Denver for 21 years. Before coming to C3, I stayed home for 15 years with my two boys, who along with my husband, continue to keep me on my toes!


Mariel Galgas – Second Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Mariel Galgas and I will be teaching second grade math, science, and social studies at C3 for the upcoming school year. This year will be my sixth year teaching. I have taught both second grade and kindergarten.  I moved to Denver from New Jersey four years ago to teach, pursue my master’s degree, and to take in all of the wonderful things that Colorado has to offer. I have a B.A. in Psychology with an Elementary Education Certificate + Middle School Mathematics Endorsement and I also have an M.A. from the University of Colorado in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Elementary Reading and Writing. In my free time I enjoy hiking, skiing, playing volleyball, yoga, crafting, cooking, camping, and learning. I am excited for the new adventures that working at C3 will bring!

Robb Mike – Second Grade Teacher

Twelve years ago, I arrived in Colorado from Hawaii, with the intent of completing a graduate program at DU and quickly returning. While I’d be lying if I said the ocean doesn’t occasionally beckon me, I couldn’t be happier having established roots in this vibrant and amazing state. This upcoming year will mark my 10th year in education, having spent the majority of it teaching curricula that was focused on experience, self-direction, and authentic application within Jefferson County Schools. I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of grade levels, from primary to middle school, which provides me with the unique ability to know from where students have come and to where they need to get. When I’m not working alongside the students, I can often be found running trails in the mountains and climbing on rocks with my wife and dog. I’m thrilled to be coming on board at C3 and look forward to sharing my ongoing passion and excitement for learning.

Lauren Macatee – Stanley British Primary Intern in 2nd Grade


My name is Lauren Macatee and I will be the Second Grade Intern this year at C3. I am originally from Oklahoma and am an avid Sooner fan. Boomer! I played soccer at the University of Oklahoma and professionally in Sweden. I love spending time with my husband and our 18-month-old daughter. I have a B.A. in Human Relations, but the majority of my career has been in the financial industry. I am excited to dive into the education field and thrilled to be at C3.


Ashley Bromstrup – Third Grade Teacher

Ashley BromstrupI grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. I earned a Bachelors’s Degree in Studio Arts from Seattle Pacific University and a Master’s of Educational Psychology from University of Colorado at Denver. I am thrilled to find a school home that combines my love of the arts and creativity with my love of teaching second graders. Before C3, I was a 2nd and 3rd Grade co-teacher at The Odyssey School and before that I was an intern at the Stanley British Primary program. Personally, I have some itchy travel feet and I love to explore Colorado in any way I can. I divide my free time between painting, hiking, biking, camping, and calligraphy.

Natalie Rigert – Third Grade Teacher


Hi, my name is Natalie Rigert and I am thrilled to be joining the C3 team as the third grade literacy teacher. I grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa. I am the oldest of three. I attended the University of Iowa- go Hawks! I majored in elementary education with specializations in reading and language arts. Over the past 7 years I have lived in 3 different states (Iowa, Illinois, and Virginia) and I had the pleasure of teaching grade levels K-3. My husband, Jake, and I finally found our way to Colorado this spring and we are here to stay! I love traveling, hiking, reading, and playing with our dog Callie. My goal is to provide a high quality, individualized education for every child. I am passionate about what I do and I love being a part of a student’s learning process. We are going to have a great year!



Mallie Buffum – Fourth Grade Teacher


I am so thrilled to be joining the staff at C3 this year. I have always admired C3, and I can’t believe I’ve been given the opportunity to work here. A little bit about me: I grew up in a small coastal town in Connecticut and ended up going to a small liberal arts college in upstate New York called Skidmore College where I majored in Education and minored in American Studies. After I graduated, I came out to Denver to nanny for my cousin’s children and loved it so much I just never left. I started my educational career as a paraprofessional in a kindergarten classroom at Stephen Knight and then spent last year as a 4th grade teacher at Traylor Academy. 4th grade is definitely one of my favorite grades, so I am so fortunate to be able to teach it again. I love spending my free time on hikes in the Rockies, hanging out at my family’s house in Grand Lake, and exploring everything Denver has to offer. I can’t wait to meet everyone at C3 this fall.See you in August!

Margaret Wing - 4th Grade Literacy Teacher


I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. After teaching for a few years, I earned my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Reading and Writing from the University of Colorado at Denver. I love teaching and working with kids. Teaching gives me the opportunity to learn something new every day and appreciate the energy it takes to master new skills. It is amazing to be a part of supporting students as they grow and gain confidence in their abilities and understanding of themselves.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, baking, gardening and doing projects at home. I love to take walks with, throw balls to or just hang out with my golden retriever, Annie.


Lisa Iverson- Fifth Grade Teacher

I have lived in Colorado for 12 years.  I grew up in Alaska, with mosquitoes, rabbits and mussels (the shellfish) as pets.  After a summer arts camp in middle school, I fell in love with Shakespeare, and went on to earn an M.A. degree in Theatre Arts. I have attended universities in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, most recently earning my teaching credentials at CU Boulder.  Through theatre, I discovered a new love: helping people learn.  I have taught students of all ages and from many backgrounds.  For the past 6 years, I have taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students at Cory Elementary. During that time, I was also a member of the C3 design team, and helped shape the education plan.  I spend my free time with my husband, family and friends.  For fun, I enjoy cooking or getting outside to hike, travel and play.  I also enjoy visiting art galleries, seeing theatre and live music, and reading voraciously under the covers with a flashlight.

Alicia LeClair- Fifth Grade Teacher

I grew up in Seattle, Washington, and have had a passion for education and teaching for as long as I can remember. I received my undergraduate degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and while I knew I was going to teach eventually, I took time after college to live in South Africa and work within another field of passion for me, international public health. I truly loved my work but found that one of the highlights of my time was volunteering as a reading tutor in local classrooms. At one point, it became undeniably clear that I needed to start a teaching career, so I moved back to Seattle to teach third and fourth grade at the University Child Development School, an independent school with many practical and philosophical parallels to C3. I moved to Colorado two years ago to get my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver and have been teaching fourth grade in Cherry Creek this past year. I could not be more thrilled to join the C3 family in the fall and to welcome the inaugural graduating class to fifth grade! Outside of school, you will find me backpacking, learning how to ski, curling up with a good book, traveling whenever I can, practicing yoga, illustrating poetry, and playing soccer and ultimate frisbee.



Jamee Edmundson – Tech Specialist

Susan Halstead – Music and PE/Dance

Music and PE-DanceSusan Halstead is joining C3 as our music and PE/Dance teacher. Ms. Halstead received her Bachelor of Music Education from Michigan State University where she studied vocal music with her voice professor and Grammy Award winner, Molly Fillmore. She was born and raised in the Chicago area and now loves living in colorful Colorado spending most of her time skiing, hiking and running. She is so excited to be a member of the C3 community and is looking forward to a wonderful school year!​


BJ Kittleson – Visual Arts

BJ Kittleson

I am a Denver native and I grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood.  I am a graduate of the University of Colorado with a Masters in Elementary Education.  I have taught first and second grade for 15 years.  The last eight years I have been a first grade teacher at Polaris at Ebert Elementary.  Educating at the primary level is a passion.  I believe it is the most important part of our lives.  My time outside of school is spent with my family.  I have a daughter, Elise who is 5 and a son, Bennett who is 8.  We spent a great many of nights in a tent during the summer enjoying our beautiful state.  It is my favorite to share beautiful natural places with my wife and children.  Outside of teaching I enjoy painting and drawing the amazing memories from being outside.

 Susan Logan – Reading Interventionist and Literacy Coach

I moved to Colorado in 1990 to learn to ski.  After hearing my father tell his friends he paid for college only to see me tend bar I decided to get serious about using my degree and in 1992 I began teaching first grade in the Cherry Creek School district (making much less than when I tended bar!) I taught first, second, and third grade in Cherry Creek for ten years and learned beside brilliant students and colleagues.  During this time I  pursued my Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at UCD and began working with a staff development organization called the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC).  In 2002 I transitioned from working with children to working with adults and became a National Literacy Consultant for the PEBC.  In this role, I worked with teachers across the country  to develop and implement the best instructional practices in literacy.  Although I loved the work, the travel became challenging for my family and I found the most rewarding part of my job was when I was in classrooms with children.  The opening of C3 has provided me with the opportunity to return to a teaching position and what I missed most, developing a community with young learners.  As I walk to school each morning I feel a balance between three parts of me: the mother, the teacher and the learner.  I look forward to a tremendous year of learning beside your children.

Katie Shaw – Gifted and Talented

Katie Shaw

I was born and raised in Aurora, Colorado.  I completed my B.A. in Economics at the University of Norther Colorado in 2000.  After a short stint in the private sector as an investment banker, I decided to enter into the teaching profession as an inaugural member of the Denver Teaching Project.  Since my journey into the teaching profession, I have acquired my k-6 teaching licence, principal license and a M.A. in Education Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Denver.  For the past seven years, I have supported district and school leaders wit the implementation of the Denver Plan at school sites.  I live in Highlands Ranch with my husband and two young daughters.  I love to spend my free time gardening, reading, cooking, camping and playing with my daughters.


Admin Team

Julia Shepherd – Principal Partner

Originally from Glencoe, IL outside of Chicago, I have lived in Denver for the last 25 years. This is my 16th year with Denver Public Schools, the last 6 as the principal of Cory Elementary. Before becoming a principal I was the assistant principal with Grant Middle School, an arts specialist for the SE region of the city and a visual arts and gifted teacher at Bromwell Elementary School. Prior to working with DPS I ran a business World Art Explorers, worked at the Denver Art Museum, and at the Smithsonian and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. My degrees include a B.A. from Dartmouth College, M.A. from the University of Denver, and an Ed Spec. from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Creativity Challenge Community has been part of my life for the last 3 years as we researched, wrote and planned for this opening year. I am thrilled to be a part of an innovation school for DPS which brings together all of my work with education, children and the arts. I have two grown daughters who are graduates of DPS.

Brent Applebaum – Assistant Principal Partner

Brent Applebaum is a Native of Denver. Although he enjoys the opportunity to travel and see the world, he can’t imagine living anywhere else.   Brent has taught Kindergarten, first and second grade for seven years at Stanley British Primary School prior to joining C3. C3 has a great reputation around Denver and Brent is excited to be a small part of its future. Outside of education, Brent enjoys spending time with his wife Jodie, daughter Ellie and Dog Charlie in the mountains.

Geri Martinez – Administrative Assistant

Geri Martinez




Jean LimNurse

Kaitlin DollardOT  (Friday All Day)

Brianne C. Bowker, M.S., CCC-SLP – Speech-Language Pathologist  720-424-0630  (Tuesday and Wednesday Mornings)

My name is Brianne Bowker and I will be your child’s speech-language pathologist this year at Creativity Challenge Community. My fiancé and I just moved to Denver from San Francisco and we are enjoying the Denver area and everything it has to offer. I attended graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle and have worked in a variety of settings including Seattle Children’s Hospital, San Francisco Unified School District, and most recently a private clinic in San Francisco. I am happy to be back in public schools and looking forward to working at Creativity Challenge Community! I will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 8:00-11:30.

Beth Carter – Psychologist

Kathy Thomas – Special Educator