2018 – 2019 Classroom Teachers and Faculty

We asked our students how they felt about AAK teachers.  Check out what they had to say!

Directors Shannon Gossard (Keigan); Jami Montoya
Dean of Student Performance Claudia Chavira
Office Manager Jada Kankel
Registrar/Receptionist Sarah Osgood
Director of Exceptional Student Services Stefanie Hutchinson
Special Education Staff Sarah Beetch; Laura Felix; Erin Branchflower
Kindergarten Caylee Amott; Amy Jenes
1st Grade Alison Sloan;  Keaton Smith
2nd Grade Mary Lane Peterson; Lauren Meyer
3rd Grade Stephanie Richert; Beth Fisher
4th Grade Anna Hahn; Tatiana Grogan (nee Rolf)
5th Grade Kristen Rubenthaler; Debra Friesz
Visual Arts Teacher Dianne Andrejasich
Music Teacher Lorna Floyd
Wellness Megan Cruise
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 five 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 eighth 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 23rd year in the field of education 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 heart strings 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 eight 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 love to be in kindergarten! I believe that every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. I want to help children develop their potential by believing in them as capable individuals. I love working closely with my teaching partner, Mrs. Jenes, and all the wonderful teachers and staff at the school. I love the great sense of family and community that the school encompasses. I am excited for the upcoming year and the wonderful things that are in store for the school. I am looking forward to a new school building where there possibilities are endless. In my spare time, I love to create. I enjoy sewing, crocheting and digital photography. I love to spend time with my family and am learning the dynamics of parenting teenagers.


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 6th year in kindergarten at our school because the students are full of energy & enthusiasm and because Mrs. Amott amd I have so much fun as teaching partners. I especially enjoy the opportunity to be an integral part in teaching children how to read. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, picnicking, travelling, baking, bird-watching, playing games and just being silly with my family.


Email: asloan@aakelementary.org

I’m so excited to begin my third 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 second year in first grade with the best teammate in the history of teaching. We work hard to make everyday an adventure for our students.


Email: ksmith@aakelementary.org

Working at this school definitely feels like a family community. With out of this world educators, creatively fueld students, and hard working volunteers; I’m excited to begin my third year teaching first grade for the 18-19 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: lmeyer@aakelementary.org

Hello AAK families! I am so excited to be returning next year as a second grade teacher here. This year has been spectacular and I’m looking forward to seeing all the new possibilities next year with our new building and library. I love our school because of our great team, wonderful students and families, and all the creativity that is encouraged and developed here. The Academy of Arts & Knowledge is a great place to learn and grow, not only as a child, but also as a teacher. See you in August!


Email: mpeterson@aakelementary.org

Second grade rocks! This is my 12th year here and I am fortunate to have known so many wonderful students and families that enrich my job every day. I know that each child has a special talent and it is my job to nurture, discover, and explore opportunities to help develop that gift. I love to bring my therapy dog, Zoey, to school and observe the happiness she brings to everyone. I believe in the importance of forging relationships with our neighborhood community and enjoy taking my class next door for visits to our friends in assisted living. Away from school, I enjoy horseback riding, gardening, reading, and camping.


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. Thank you for bringing me on board!  Check out my Donors Choose here for a classroom document camera!


Email: srichert@aakelementary.org

I am super excited to be returning to third grade this year! First, we have an amazing staff that is creative, caring, and always goes the extra mile to reach their students. I feel extremely lucky to be part of the community that has been cultivated at AAK between staff, students, and parents. Teaching at a school that values creativity and student expression aligns with my own pedagogy and passions. It’s incredible to see students and staff alike share their passions for the arts!

Outside of school I enjoy painting with watercolors and pastels, reading, and anything outdoors. I’m a runner, camper, and most importantly, a dog mom to Duke. Colorado has my heart and I am so grateful to call Fort Collins my home.


Email: ahahn@aakelementary.org

GO POKES! I’m an alumni of the University of Wyoming and I have been teaching for over 20 years. I taught in Winter Park, and Summit County. We moved to the Front Range 15 years ago this fall. I have been teaching here since the school opened. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to teach first through fourth grade. I am an avid skier, golfer, hiker, and I love to read and spend time with my family. My daughter attended AAK and is going to CEC High School this fall as an incoming freshman. I am excited to make the move to Wheaton and teach fourth grade again with my new teaching partner! It will be a great year!


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.

Check out my DonorsChoose page here to get a classroom document camera!


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 three 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 third year in Fort Collins, and third 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: 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: mcruise@aakelementary.org

As a wellness teacher I get to teach important healthy life choices as well as get students to be physically active. I love my job because my students learn about a healthy lifestyle through fun and engaging activities. I am looking forward to next year because students will continue in their second year learning life skills, conflict resolution, safety and nutrition. We will make a lot of progress and have a lot of fun along the way!

Check out my DonorsChoose here to get more Wellness supplies for AAK!


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: ebranchflower@aakelementary.org


Email: jwalter@aakelementary.org