Our Team




Julia Shepherd  julia_shepherd@dpsk12.org

Principal Partner

Originally from Glencoe, IL outside of Chicago, I have lived in Denver for most of my adult life. I have worked for Denver Public Schools for the last 20 years. Before becoming a principal in 2006 for 6 years at Cory Elementary and then opening C3 in 2012, I was the assistant principal of Grant Middle School, a district arts specialist for the SE region of the city and the visual arts and gifted educator at Bromwell Elementary.

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 a part of my life since 2010 when we started the research and planning to open a new school. I am thrilled to be a part of an innovation school at DPS and part of the first Innovation Zone, the Luminary Learning Network, which brings together my life long work in education, children, and the arts. I have two grown daughters who are graduates of DPS.



Brent Applebaum  brent_applebaum@dpsk12.org

Assistant Principal Partner

It is such a pleasure to be part of such a great community here at C3.  I am a Native of Denver and enjoy the opportunity to travel and see the world, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else.   Prior to C3, I  taught Kindergarten, first and second grade for seven years at Stanley British Primary School. C3 has a great reputation around Denver and I am thrilled to be a small part of its future. Outside of education, I enjoy spending time with my wife Jodie, daughter Ellie and Dog Charlie in the mountains.






Sophia Andrianakos

First grade, Boettcher Teacher Intern










Mallie Buffum  MALLIE_BUFFUM@dpsk12.org

Fourth Grade Math, Science and Social Studies 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!

Ashley Bromstrup  ashley_bromstrup@dpsk12.org

Third Grade Math, Science and Social Studies Teacher

I 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.



Bailey Connor

Third grade, Boettcher Teacher Intern











Paige Custer

Administrative Assistant












Francie Dale  francine_dale@dpsk12.org
Kindergarten Teacher

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.








Laura Datz  laura_datz@dpsk12.org

Kindergarten Teacher

Originally from St. Louis, I studied English at Sewanee.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia, I taught English as a Second Language and learned to speak fluent Pohnpeian.  I moved to Denver and received my Master’s from the University of Colorado Denver and teacher training through Stanley British Primary.  My previous teaching experience includes both private and public education.  My husband, our son and I enjoy hiking, cooking, camping and travel.


James Dunn

Fifth Grade Literacy Teacher








Linda Durgin  linda_durgin@dpsk12.org

First Grade Math, Science and Social Studies Teacher

Welcome to our C3 community of learners! I’m proud to be an integral member of the C3 team, teaching first-grade math, science, and social studies. My family and I hail from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts; hence my Bostonian accent! J My husband, Frank, and I, along with two of our sons live in Denver and our oldest son lives in “The Big Apple”. 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 first moved to Colorado. I taught 1st graders at Cory Elementary for 13 years teaching before joining the C3 crew! I embrace C3’s mission and vision, which aligns with my passion of cultivating a trusting & respectful community for children, their families, and myself as we grow and creatively learn together.



Mariel Galgas  mariel_galgas@dpsk12.org

Second Grade Literacy Teacher 

Hello! My name is Mariel Galgas. I have been teaching since 2009. I have taught both second grade and kindergarten. I moved to Denver from New Jersey in 2010 to teach, pursue my master’s degree, and explore all of the wonderful things that Colorado has to offer. I hold a B.A. in Psychology with an Elementary Education Certificate from Ramapo College of New Jersey. I have also obtained an M.A. from the University of Colorado Denver in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Elementary Reading and Writing. I am endorsed as an Elementary Education Teacher (K-6), Reading Teacher (K-12), and as a Special Education teacher. My goal is to become a National Board Certified Teacher in the next few years. Outside of school, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with hiking, skiing, and camping. I also creative pursuits like sewing, cooking, and pottery. On the weekends you can find me visiting family in Breckenridge, catching some live music with friends, or planning my next vacation! I am looking forward to a great school year!


Susan Halstead  SUSAN_HALSTEAD@dpsk12.org

Music/Admin Assistant culture and community

Susan 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!​







Tracy Hughes













Lisa Iverson   lisa_iverson@dpsk12.org

Fifth Grade Math, Science and Social Studies 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.


BJ Kittleson   blair_kittleson@dpsk12.org

Visual Arts

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.



Jean Lim  leehyun_lim@dpsk12.org













 Susan Logan  susan_logan@dpsk12.org

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.


Robin McCarthy  barbara_mccarthy@dpsk12.org

First Grade Literacy 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.





Lisa McGee

Paraprofessional and Library











Robb Mike  ROBERT_MIKE@dpsk12.org

PE/Senior Team Lead

15 years ago my wife and I left the island of Oahu and landed firmly in Denver, all with the intent of completing a graduate program at DU and quickly returning.  And 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 14th year in education, having spent the majority of it in Jefferson County Schools teaching curricula that was experientially based, self-directed, and authentic.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a variety of grade levels and content areas but find my greatest joy in connecting with students and helping them to discover a true love of learning.  When I’m not working alongside the students, you’ll likely find me in the hills, running trails and climbing on rocks with my wife and dog.  I’m thrilled to be part of the C3 community and consider myself quite lucky for being given the opportunity to share my ongoing passion and excitement for all things learning!





Patricia Montoya

Facilities Management













Lucy Pfeffer













Austin Rand

Fourth Grade Literacy Teacher

Austin Rand will be joining us from Joe Shoemaker Elementary to teach 4th grade focusing on literacy alongside Mallie Buffum who will continue with math, science and social studies. Austin has been teaching in a multi-aged 4th and 5th grade classroom.

Born in the Greater Boston area, I have lived in Denver, Oakland, and Boston over the past ten years. I attended the University of Colorado – Boulder for my undergraduate degree and completed my Masters in Education at UC Berkeley in 2016. For the past year, I have been teaching 4th and 5th grade at Joe Shoemaker School here in Denver. When I am not teaching I can usually be found outside: running, riding my bike, camping, or skiing, somewhere in Colorado.  I look forward to joining the C3 community next year!



Natalie Rigert  natalie_rigert@dpsk12.org

Third Grade Literacy Teacher

Hi my name is Natalie Rigert. I grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa. I attended the University of Iowa where I majored in elementary education and graduated with specializations in reading and language arts. I have lived and taught in 3 different states outside of Colorado (Iowa, Illinois, and Virginia) and I have taught grades K-3. My goal is to provide a high quality, individualized education for every child. I am passionate about teaching and I love being able to be a part of a student’s learning process. My interests outside of teaching include traveling, hiking, reading, spending time with family and friends, as well as playing with my dog, Callie.





Jenn Rix

Jenn Rix is eager to continue working with the C3 community as our GT Specialist. She will be supporting our gifted students and their families, as well as collaborating with teachers to meet the needs of students and elaborating our focus on Creativity. Jenn will be at C3 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Jenn is a licensed Gifted Education Specialist (preschool-grade 12) and a Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) certified parent group facilitator. Jenn’s studies include a M.A. in Special Education: Gifted & Talented, as well as graduate work in Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education and Colorado Department of Education training in teaching Twice-Exceptional (2E) students. Her experience includes teaching at the elementary, middle school, high school, and college levels as a classroom teacher, a Differentiation Coach, and a GT Specialist. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and parenting her two teens.


avatarKricket Servis  krystyn_servis@dpsk12.org

Kindergarten Teacher











avatarLiz Subiadur

Math Intervention












Kathy Thomas  kathleen_thomas@dpsk12.org

Special Educator













Emily Walter









Jo Ward














Betsy Washburn

I was born in upstate New York and moved to Castle Rock, Colorado, when I was eight years old. After graduating from Douglas County High School, I attended Brigham Young University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I moved back to Denver in 2015, where I completed my graduate internship at Denver Discovery School. I earned my Education Specialist degree in School Psychology in June 2016. I love working with kids of all ages and do everything that I can to help kids be successful academically, socially, and emotionally. When I’m not working, I love to travel and spend time with my friends and family.

Margaret Wing  margaret_wing@dpsk12.org

Second Grade Math, Science and Social Studies 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.




Harvey Mccarthy

Discovery Link – C3 Specialist











Sam Haseldensamuel_haselden@dpsk12.org

Discovery Link – Enrichment











Isaiah Medina















Lori Smith

PTSA President











Kate Kalstein 












Ruthie Beugg

PTSA Secretary











Amy Saber

PTSA Treasurer












Christina Sylvester

Merrill Principal











Courtney Wickham

Merrill Assistant Principal












Vince Franklin

Merrill Dean and Safety











Bianka Grijalva

Merrill Secretary