2019-20 Classroom Teachers and Faculty

Directors Shannon Gossard; Jami Montoya
Dean of Student Performance Claudia Chavira
Office Manager Jada Kankel
Receptionist Sarah Osgood
Registrar/Extended Day Coordinator Caylee Amott
Director of Exceptional Student Services Stefanie Hutchinson
Special Education Staff Emma Kinsella, Sarah Beetch; Laura Felix
Kindergarten Holly Chavira, Jessica Guindon
1st Grade Alison Sloan;  Keaton Smith
2nd Grade Amy JenesTedi Tatro
3rd Grade Cheryl Smith; Beth Fisher
4th Grade Samantha Siu, Tatiana Grogan
5th Grade Kristen Rubenthaler; Debra Friesz
Visual Arts Teacher Dianne Andrejasich
Music Teacher Lorna Floyd
Wellness Jeanett Turriago
School Nurse Keri Dennison
Facilities Josh Walter
Information Technology Scott Wilson
Kitchen Manager Rosean Amaral

Learn about our Faculty Favorites!


Email: sgossard@aakelementary.org

From the moment I stepped into this school, I was blown away by the amazing things that teachers do every day with their students and the amount of passion and dedication they have for each and every child they work with. Over the last six years, I have seen immense growth in our students and witnessed them blossoming into confident and expressive students who have the ability to think critically about the world around them. I am honored to be able to support such an amazing community of staff, students, and parents.


Email: jmontoya@aakelementary.org

Entering into my ninth year at the school, I am thrilled at all the new opportunities that lie ahead, and the chance to continue to enrich the creative teaching and learning that happens at our school. Our students amaze me every day at what they’re able to accomplish, and our community is one that is building self-confident and accepting children. I am so proud to say I’m a part of it. There is never a dull moment here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!


Email: cchavira@aakelementary.org

I’m thrilled to start out my 24th year in the field of education and my second as your Dean of Student Performance. I graduated with my BA from Ottawa University and later obtained my Ma.ED in Leadership through Arizona State University. I grew up in Arizona and recently moved from Prescott Valley. I visited Colorado often and knew this is where I wanted to stay. It has been my dream to work with a school with a strong arts program. It has been proven, that a high academic standard, coupled with the arts, offers students the best opportunity to excel in any chosen discipline.  I look forward to serving the wonderful students, staff and AAK community.


Email: jkankel@aakelementary.org

Both of my children are alumni of the school. I have been working here since 2009 and my heartstrings are tied to the children and staff. This school embraces students with differences and teaches them to be comfortable in their own skin. Students graduate from school with a confidence in who they are and acceptance for who others are. I greatly enjoy working with this community and I look forward to meeting new and returning students and staff in the fall.


Email: sosgood@aakelementary.org

I have been connected with Academy of Arts and Knowledge for nine years now. It is truly a wonderful school with an amazing team of teachers. It is extra special that my son gets to attend here. I appreciate the great diversity of learning he experiences by being a part of this wonderful community of teachers, students, parents, and staff. The teachers are truly committed to using their skills and craft to raise up children who are not only educated in the core academic subjects, but also in the important areas of music, art, wellness and world cultures. I am grateful to be a part of such an amazing team, and even more grateful my son gets to spend his early academic years among such a wonderful community!


Email: camott@aakelementary.org

I have been a part of the AAK Family for over 10 years. I am excited to change roles this coming year as I step out of the classroom into a different capacity overseeing the Extended Day Program. I love working with all the wonderful teachers and staff at the school and the great sense of family that the school encompasses. I am excited for the upcoming year and the wonderful things that are in store for the school. I love being in a school where the possibilities are endless. In my spare time, I love to create. I enjoy sewing, knitting, and digital photography. I love to spend time with my family and I am learning the dynamics of parenting young adults.


Email: jguindon@aakelementary.org

I’m a language-lover originally from Birmingham, Alabama, who came out to Colorado to complete my Master’s degree and never left! I have my BA in French and English and I am in the process of learning Spanish! My hobbies include reading, watching TV shows, cuddling my dog and cat, tending to my plants, and eating at restaurants with my husband Spencer. In my free time, I enjoy walking or biking outside and volunteering at the Larimer Humane Society.

I’m so ecstatic to begin my 5th year of teaching here at AAK! I’ve taught grades K-2 previously, and I’m so pleased to be teaching Kindergarten again! The curiosity and wonder of the students when learning about interesting new topics and the remarkable growth seen at the end of the year are my favorite parts of teaching Kinder! I also love to collaborate with my teaching partner and teammates, as I believe it really enhances the students’ school experience by demonstrating consistency and compassion. I’m over the moon to work with the amazing students and faculty here at AAK, and I am positive that the 2019-2020 school year will be a great success!


Email: hchavira@aakelementary.org

I am so excited to be joining AAK this school year, I already can tell it is going to be a fun school year! This will be my fifth year teaching kindergarten, but my first year teaching in Colorado! I graduated from Grand Canyon University with my bachelors in Early Childhood Education. The last four years I have been teaching in downtown Phoenix and have loved every minute of it. Kindergarten is my absolute passion and I believe all children are capable of being world changers! I will be moving to Fort Collins this summer from Scottsdale, Arizona with my husband and our sweet dog, Benji! I have already fallen in love with this beautiful city and cannot wait to explore!


Email: asloan@aakelementary.org

I’m so excited to begin my fourth year here. This is the most amazing school I have taught at yet. I love the freedom to be creative and to explore with the students. I’m beginning my third year in first grade with the best teammate in the history of teaching. We work hard to make every day an adventure for our students.



Email: ksmith@aakelementary.org

Working at this school definitely feels like a family community. Without of this world educators, creatively fueled students, and hard-working volunteers; I’m excited to begin my fourth year teaching first grade for the 19-20 school year! It’s truly so much fun working alongside the primary team, motivating youth to collaborate and inspire one another to the best of their abilities. I love to teach, and being at this school amplifies my love to a new level. So, what are you waiting for? Come explore the creative arts, and join our magical AAK family!


Email: ajenes@aakelementary.org

I am thrilled to take part in shaping The Academy of Arts & Knowledge into a close learning community with a family feel. I love connecting with my students and want each of them to know that they are cared for and respected at school. I am looking forward to my 7th year at AAK because I love having the ability to incorporate the arts into my classroom learning and I love the community that we have here.  This year is especially exciting because I get to see both new and familiar faces in second grade!  In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, picnicking, traveling, baking, bird-watching, playing games and just being silly with my family.


Email: ttatro@aakelementary.org

I am so excited to join the team at The Academy of Arts and Knowledge as a 2nd-grade teacher this year. I look forward to working with the amazing team here at this school and bringing my own knowledge and passion to it. This will be my second year in Fort Collins, originally having grown up in Walla Walla Washington. In my free time, I love to read, hike, and snuggle my two cats Pip and Doctor. My husband and I also enjoy traveling and exploring new places. Over the past year I worked with many of the students through the before and after school program here at the school and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do together in the classroom. I can’t wait to make this year great!


Email: bfisher@aakelementary.org 

I am so excited to be a part of the AAK community and for the opportunity to teach third grade! I am excited to grow and learn with the students and staff at AAK and share my love of teaching with all of you.

I am originally from Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, a team I continue to cheer for today as I did in the past. I have been in Colorado for four years and have grown to enjoy the serenity and peacefulness of the mountains as much as I love the beach. I enjoy the simple things in life and find gratitude in the beauty that surrounds us here in Colorado.

I am an avid hiker, cyclist, yogi and gym-rat. I enjoy spending time hiking with my dog Duke and my three children, two of which attend High School here in Fort Collins.

I am looking forward to a wonderful year at AAK and getting to know each of you in your own special way.


Email: csmith@aakelementary.org

This will be my first year to teach at AAK and I am very excited for the opportunity to teach 3rd grade! I received my Bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University in Interdisciplinary Studies and Elementary Education in August of 2012. I taught 4th grade for three years and 1st grade for one semester. Before teaching professionally, I homeschooled my children for 15 years, taught piano and music lessons privately for 20 years, and was the Academy Director for a music academy in Texas. Teaching is my heart, and I am anxiously anticipating my first year at AAK. The school felt like home the minute I walked in, and the staff and students were so kind. I am a life-long learner and I cannot wait to continue learning with the community at AAK. I have 3 grown children who light up my life, and a 3-year-old grandson whom I adore. I love to read, dabble in photography, and spend as much time as I can in these gorgeous mountains. I feel blessed to be a part of the AAK team.


Email: ssiu@aakelementary.org

I am so excited to be a part of the AAK community this year!  I am born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, which is also where I received my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and my Bachelors of Education.  I recently got married which has led me to northern Colorado and I have fallen in love with this state!  If I am not in the classroom, you can probably find me hanging out with my husband and puppy, Paxton.  We love being outside and enjoying the fresh air and nature.
I can’t wait to meet my new group of students.  I look forward to creating a family community where we can learn to make mistakes and make mistakes to learn.  With a background in the fine and performing arts, I am excited to see how we can work together in integrating these ideas with the academic curriculum.  I believe students learn best when they have the freedom to express themselves and their creativity.  Education is a unique and personal journey for every individual and I am excited to embark on this one with all of you!”


Email: tgrogan@aakelementary.org

I am a double alumna from UNC, with a Master’s in Elementary Education and a Bachelor’s in International Affairs. My time outside of the classroom is spent reading, hiking, paddle boarding, snowboarding, trying Pinterest recipes, or playing “not fetch” with our rescue dog, Sterling. My husband and I are huge baseball fans and spend most of the summer watching games. GO ROCKIES! I love teaching 4th grade because we get to explore our wonderful state’s history from the migration of ancient peoples to today’s thriving tourism economy.

Being a voracious reader, I often encourage my students to read about their interests and love suggesting new books! I really enjoy teaching students new strategies and ways to think about math and am so proud of that lightbulb moment. When children come into my classroom with their diverse backgrounds and experiences, I think that is what makes learning remarkable for the whole class. Given the opportunity to share those experiences and being able to relate them to our content, will build more connections and create additional learning opportunities from each other.


Email: krubenthaler@aakelementary.org

The Academy of Arts & Knowledge has been a wonderful school to be a part of. We have had the best teachers, and I am so happy to work with and learn from them. I have had the opportunity to use my creativity to find innovative ways to teach my students. From going on Viking raids, to learning and trying out Roman battle tactics. We have spent time creating mosaics, and writing about our “first-hand experiences when Mount Vesuvius erupted.” We have worked with many different classes and grades to help our 5th graders become the teachers and leaders, and share what they have learned with the younger grades.

I have loved teaching here for the past four years and I am looking forward to working with a new group of amazing students. I love combining my love of History and English together to really go deeper into both subjects. I am really looking forward to working with the students to create new things that are unique to our class!


Email: dfriesz@aakelementary.org

My name is Deb Friesz. I was raised outside Fort Collins on a farm and graduated from Highland High School in Ault. I attended college in Iowa, moved to Nebraska and later to Missouri before returning home in 2011.

I am an outdoors person who loves hiking, bicycling, and walking. I garden with my family and enjoy the fresh produce as well as the creative cooking my siblings share. I find great pleasure in reading especially Fantasy and Young Adult books. Traveling both in and out of the country continues to be a top item on my bucket list. There are so many delightful places to go. The loves of my life are my daughter, son and daughter-in-law and their children, my grandchildren, with whom I spend quality time as often as possible.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming year. The excitement of experiencing new ideas and learning is so very empowering. The opportunity to work with 5th graders in both Science and Math in an environment which supports and focuses on the arts inspires me as well as our students. I can’t wait to meet your children!


Email: shutchinson@aakelementary.org

Hello! My name is Stefanie Hutchinson and I am the Director of Exceptional Student Services at the Academy of Arts and Knowledge. This will be my fourth year in Fort Collins, and fourth year at The Academy of Arts and Knowledge. I am originally from Lambertville, New Jersey and studied Special Education and Elementary Education at the University of Delaware, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Ed (K-5), Special Education (K-12), and a minor in Urban Education. I taught in a 4th grade special education classroom in Camden, New Jersey before fleeing to the mountains of Colorado to have easier access to the mountains. In my spare time, I like to rock climb, mountain bike, surf (when back home on the coast!), paddleboard, and pet every dog I see.

When moving to Fort Collins, the Academy of Arts and Knowledge became my new “home,” and I have fallen in love with our small school community. I adore working with our exceptional student population, and getting to see them grow in their self confidence because of the community at our school is the best part of my job. My goals as a special educator are to help student’s with learning differences understand their strengths, and become strong self-advocates. I love working with families to build strong support systems for student’s with different needs, and I look forward to another year working with rigor and positivity towards student’s individualized goals.


Email: ekinsella@aakelementary.org

Hi, my name is Emma Kinsella and I am beyond excited to join the AAK family this year. I will be entering my fifth school year of teaching this year. I attended Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (K-8) and Special Education (K-12). My first two years of experience were in K-3 Cross Categorical Resource setting and the last two years have been in a general education Kindergarten classroom. While I have enjoyed my experience in both the General Education and Special Education setting, I am looking forward to returning to my passion of being a Special Education Teacher. I love reminding students of their strengths as they discover their learning differences and how to advocate for themselves to achieve their full potential. I am excited to bring an inclusive mindset to the AAK school community. I am looking forward to moving to the Fort Collins area this summer with my two rescued pups, Max & Marley, and can’t wait for all the adventures we will go on together!


Email: lfelix@aakelementary.org

Bio coming soon!


Email: sbeetch@aakelementary.org

Bio coming soon!


Email: dandrejasich@aakelementary.org

My goal for our fine arts school is not only teaching visual arts, more teaching creative thinking.  Our students have been my greatest inspiration in so many ways.  Elementary school was difficult for me because I learn differently than most people.  I want to be there to unlock frustration in students who need a different approach to many academic subjects through the visual arts.


Email: lfloyd@aakelementary.org

I have been the music teacher since fall of 2010. I love how our school music program meets and exceeds the Colorado State Music Standards in a unique way–by offering an elementary instrumental program!

When I am not in my classroom I’m in my many gardens with my husband and three little dogs or making my own music! I play alto saxophone with the funk band Archie Funker, flute with Bole Bole Brazilian band, and clarinet and vocals in my own ensemble, Lorna’s Swingset.


Email: jturriago@aakelementary.org 

My name is Jeanett Turriago. I am from Bogota, Colombia, South America, but I lived abroad most of my life. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Universidad Pedagogica in Bogota, Colombia, a Master’s in Infancy and Childhood Motor Development from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and a Graduate Degree in Didactics of Spanish as a Foreign Language from University of Barcelona, Spain. I have been teaching Physical Education and Spanish as a Foreign Language for more than 20 years in International Schools. I love teaching, and feel very fortunate for having the opportunity to interact with children from different nationalities and cultures. In my free time, I enjoy exercising, going to the movies and traveling with my husband and children.


I am the kitchen manager, called out of retirement to serve hot lunch to the students.  Good nutritious meals are a must for kids using their brains and bodies throughout the long school day.  And serving a meal with some humor and love is just what I do.
In my past life, I was a social worker for 30 years. I love reading and studying and the life-long learning process.
But for now, serving lunch here is one of the best retirement plans I know of! The kids and the staff are great!
Thanks for calling me back!


Email: swilson@aakelementary.org

Bio coming soon!


Email: jwalter@aakelementary.org

My two daughters have attended AAK for the last 5 years. I have been a Chef for over 20 years and was ready for a change in profession. I enjoy being around the students, faculty and being able to see my daughters, daily. When I am not working at the school my wife, son and I work at Sky Ranch Camp by Pingree Park. We enjoy camping and fishing. We have a dog, cat, and a kitten. AAK is our school of choice for its art and music programming. The smaller, structured setting provides an ideal learning environment.