Faculty & Staff Bios

BGT1Christopher Baggett – Literacy Fellow
I was raised in Louisiana, but I fell in love with Colorado in the 70’s and was finally able to move here in order to attend Naropa Institute, CU-Boulder, and MSU-Denver.  When I am not poring over books, I enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing in the Rockies, and traveling to anywhere I can.  I received my BA in English Literature and my Secondary Ed. certification from MSU-Denver, which has led me to become a Literacy Fellow at MMMS.  I am very excited to be part of this wonderful school!


James Bench – 8th grade math

I am extremely excited to be a part of McAuliffe Manual Middle School. Born in Denver, I grew up in the metro area and went on to play collegiate baseball in  Arizona and Iowa before returning home to Denver. I love doing anything related to math, science, and sports. I also have my real estate license. I have been in education for two and a half years now and I’m here to stay. . . I love it! I love working with kids and developing problem solvers for life. I live with my beautiful wife, Laura, my cat, Ruby, and my soon-to-be (late September) baby boy! A favorite quote of mine is…

Ego = 1 / Knowledge. More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego. –Albert Einstein

Debbie Burgio – social worker


Samantha Cohen – MI para

I am very excited to join the McAuliffe Manual Middle School team! I recently moved from Chicago where I received my degree in Hospitality and Tourism management from Roosevelt University. When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy playing sports, trivia and exploring the outdoors with my dog Rae.

Zach Couchman – 8th grade physical ed/Athletic Director

I was born in Denver, but I spent most of my childhood years living in Frisco, CO.  Living in a small town like Frisco gave me a great opportunity to ski, hike, ride my bike, camp and enjoy all of the great recreational activities Colorado has to offer!  In my spare time I like to play basketball, tennis and ski.  There is nothing better than a great powder day with friends on the mountain!  I love going to Broncos games when I can.  I’ve taught physical education for 13 years at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  I am very excited to be working with middle school students again, and can’t wait to start my first year at McAuliffe Manual Middle School!


Rachel Cassidy DavisRachel Davis – drama/choir

I am overjoyed to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team this year. I grew up in New York where I worked as hard as I could to become a ‘triple threat’ in dancing, acting, and singing. I earned my BA in Music Education and Theatre at West Chester University in Pennsylvania and my Masters of Music in Secondary Music Education at George Mason University in Virginia. I have spent the last 4 years teaching middle school chorus and directing the drama program in Warrenton, Virginia and am so pleased to be continuing my career in a similar role. Singing and performing have been a personal passion of mine since childhood and I truly enjoy bringing that passion to students every day. I moved to Denver with my husband and two cats in the fall of 2017 and we can’t imagine living anywhere else. My hobbies include: traveling, cooking & eating out, playing ukulele, knitting, and practicing yoga. 


Leonard Donadio – 7th grade math




Donnelly_portrait2Kelly Donnelly – 6th & 7th grade PE
My search for a positive culture, challenge, diversity and mountains brings me to McAuliffe Manual! After ten years in the fundraising industry, I will begin my career as a Physical Educator. I served as a coach and board member for Girls on the Run Southcentral Alaska, where I discovered my passion and energy for teaching the value of health and physical activity. I completed my graduate degree in Physical Education at Oregon State University and earned my certification as an Adapted Physical Educator. I look forward to creating opportunities for all students to discover their abilities, gain confidence and develop habits of health and well-being. Outside of school, you can find me in the mountains, trail running, cycling, skiing, camping, visiting family on the east coast, or in my kitchen. A favorite quote of mine is…
Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be. –Karen Ravn


Jeff Elliott – 6th grade social studies

Hello My name is Jeff Elliott. This is my second year teaching 6th grade social studies at McAuliffe Manual Middle School. I received my undergraduate degree in history from the University of Denver. I also received my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver as well. Before I came to McAuliffe Manual I was teaching 9th grade. In fact I student-taught 9th graders in Manual High School. I enjoy all things outdoors and history related. I am so excited for an amazing year of learning and growth for all of our students.

Joseph Farley – Literacy Fellow


Anthony Fierstos – Spanish

It’s a personal and professional thrill to join the team here at McAuliffe Manual Middle School.  I received my undergraduate degrees in Communications and International Studies from Georgia Southern University and I earned my Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Central Missouri.  I also studied for a year at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico.  Spanish language became a passion when I experienced it in action.  My first teaching job with the Peace Corps in Paraguay, was an incredible adventure.  I loved working with kids so much that my wife and I earned TEFL certifications and taught in Korea for 4 years. I have been teaching language for more than 8 years and spent the last few years teaching at Cole Camp High School. My personal interests are baseball, camping, hiking, banjo playing, bluegrass music and food (especially chicken wings). ¡Nos vemos pronto!

Joseph Florez – 8th Grade Social Studies

Kailey Garland – nurse


Stephanie Graves – MI Special Ed

I am very excited to be working at our MI (Multi Intensive) center-based program at McAuliffe Manual. I have been teaching for 17 years, both in physical education and special education. Most of my teaching experience has been in the special education field, with the last several years teaching in an autism classroom for DPS. I earned my undergraduate degree in Physical Education (emphasis Kinesiology) from the University of Northern Colorado, and my master’s degree in Special Education from Regis University.  I live in Castle Rock with my two fur babies, Ryder and Sadie, my partner Brandon, my daughter Mariah, and my stepchildren, Michael and Shannon. We are a very active family and love being outdoors whenever possible. You can always find us at the swimming pool, ball park, or skiing on the mountain.

GriffithTeagan Griffith – 6th/8th grade special education

I am thrilled to be part of the McAuliffe Manual community and have the opportunity to be in partnership with young students and collaborative professionals.  Originally from California, I dreamed to live in Colorado, where I eventually attended college and received a BA in Communications Studies at Colorado State University. As a college student-athlete, I loved the competitive environment of sports and academics. I am passionate about creating an environment for students to thrive and explore their own interests and passions. Outside of the classroom, I love to be outdoors in the fresh mountain air, enjoying yoga, and spending time with people I love.


Jose Hernandez – Spanish 2b and SLA 1 & 2



Jennifer Hoyle – 6th Grade Engineering/Science





Jonas Headshot

John Jonas – orchestra/band

I am a dad, husband, musician and teacher of musical arts. I started my music career in 1982 as a musician in the US Marine Corps. Since then, I studied music education at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the University of Northern Colorado. I’ve taught band, orchestra and vocal music in Montrose, Weld, Westminster and Denver counties. I also taught in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, for 5 years. My main instrument is trombone and I’ve played and directed in many bands, orchestras and various groups over the years. My current performance outlet is the Gora Gora Orkestar brass band. I have two sons and my wife is a very talented cellist and music teacher. I am SO EXCITED to be living 11 blocks from the school after years of long distance commuting. I am a big Rockies fan and love to take in games at Coors Field. The only thing I enjoy as much as teaching music is performing. Two of my favorite quotes are…

Anybody can play. The note is 20 percent. The attitude of the (musician) who plays it is 80 percent. —Miles Davis

When nothing is owed or deserved or expected, And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.—The Avett Brothers


Samantha Knipp – 7th grade science

I am excited to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team! Thirteen years ago, I wanted to help students explore their world and so I began teaching 9th – 12th grade biology and earth science. When I moved to Colorado, I decided to teach middle school because I thought it was a really fun age! For the past 4 years, I have taught 7th grade science at a charter school in Denver.  Prior to teaching, I shared my enthusiasm for the ocean by working on whale watching boats, at aquariums and at outdoor education centers in Florida, Hawaii and California. I earned a BA from College of the Atlantic and a MS from Lesley University. Recently I returned to graduate school and completed my Colorado Principal License at Colorado State University. When I’m not teaching, I enjoying reading, hiking, and gardening.


Sarah LeBuhn HeadshotSarah Lebuhn – 7th grade special education

I am very excited to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team and cannot wait to see what is in store for this upcoming school year! I graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder and earned my BA in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. I am super passionate about kids and the potential that each of them has. I am originally from Cincinnati, OH but moved out to Colorado for school, and now I don’t think I’m ever leaving. In my free time, I love being outdoors (hiking, biking, skiing), going to concerts and listening to music, attending sporting events, trying out new restaurants, and being around dogs! A favorite quote of mine….

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. —Mother Teresa

Julie Malek  – Innovation Lab Coordinator

I am thrilled to be working with the inquiring minds here on the Manual Campus. The Innovation Lab is a place for students to find great books and much, much more. Having been a middle and high school social studies teacher for 13 years, I love helping students connect to and explore their community and the world. I am passionate about reading and helping students find books that they can’t put down. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and I have lost track of how times I’ve read it! My husband and I have two mostly grown daughters who are beginning careers of their own, which leaves us lots of time to travel, hike, bike and be in the mountains. My favorite sport is soccer; in fact I played soccer here when I was student at Manual High School a few years ago! 


Kimberly Martin – 7th grade social studies

I am very excited to be joining the MMMS team this year! This is my 2rd year in DPS: I worked at South High School and I interned and guest taught at DCIS-Baker. I graduated this past year from CU Denver where I earned my MA, and prior to that, I received my BA from CU Denver in History. I am originally from Las Cruces, NM and have lived in Colorado since I was six years old. I have an amazing P. I. C. (Partner in Crime), Mitchell (he’s a DPS football defensive coordinator at TJ High School), and we have 3 wonderful sons: Marius, Montae and Mavarro. They are involved in athletics all year long…football, basketball and track. I am a SUPER big sports fan; I LOVE football and basketball and I’m very competitive. I love to read, research and find projects/recipes to try on Pinterest! A  favorite quote of mine is…

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. —Tim Notke

Amber McCullough – 7th and 8th  grade engineering


Cindy Moneyhon  – 6th grade math

I love being part of the THUNDER at McAuliffe Manual! I love teaching math and working with middle schoolers – they keep it real and I appreciate that! I believe everyone is a mathematician and that its okay to struggle with math. I am from Texas and moved here four years ago with my husband. A favorite quote of mine is…

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. —Henry David Thoreau


Mallory Mowery – 6th grade language arts

This is my first-year teaching at McAuliffe Manual Middle School, and I am thrilled to be a part of what makes MMMS a great place to learn and teach! I have lived in Houston, TX all of my life, and I have taught high school English and Latin there for the past six years. I’m an avid reader, a voracious adventurer, and an expert beach and fireside lounger. My favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Outside of the classroom, I’m either reading on my front porch, exploring the outdoors with my husband and pup, or enjoying a nice meal with family and friends. A favorite quote of mine is…
qui docet discit…he who teaches, learns. —George Bernard Shaw

PiepsnyRachel Piepsny – 7th grade language arts

I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team for a wonderful new year of learning and discover!  I have spent the past two years teaching fourth and fifth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies in Cincinnati Public Schools.  Prior to that, I did my student teaching in an international middle school in the same district, and I cannot wait to return to the joy that is middle school!  I completed my undergraduate degree in Middle Childhood Education at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, although I am originally from Cleveland.  I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) through the University of Cincinnati.  Like any good Language Arts teacher, I LOVE to read and write, but I also love hiking, painting, cooking, and soccer.  I am looking forward to a year of bringing the thunder!  A favorite quote of mine is…

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the immensity of the sea. —Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Taylor Roholt – French

This will be my second year teaching at McAuliffe Manual and I am thrilled to join the World Languages team! I spent 2 years teaching high school French in Arizona, and it was there that my passion for this career was born. I love teaching the French language as it fosters cultural understanding, interaction and self-expression. Growing up in Albuquerque, NM, I spent many years exploring Colorado. I’m excited to be a part of the Denver community and more importantly MMMS! When I’m not teaching you can find me in the mountains and on the trails. A favorite quote of mine is…

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.  —Steve Prefontaine

McKenna Scott – Counselor
I am so incredibly excited to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team this year! I am a Colorado native and proud of it! I called Fort Collins home for 18 years before moving to Denver and falling in love with the city. I received my M.Ed. in School Counseling from Colorado State University (Go Rams!) and am thrilled to be working with students at MMMS. It is a joy to be able to walk alongside students as they journey through their formative years and watch as they discover their unique passions and identities! When I’m not at work you can find me enjoying the amazing parks and trails around Denver, playing somewhere in the beautiful Colorado mountains, or taking any chance to travel abroad! A favorite quote of mine is…
Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t lose. —Coach Taylor

Rachel Shea – data specialist

I am so happy to be a part of this innovative team of educators. I taught 7th and 8th grade math for six years before jumping into curriculum, data and assessment work. I am from Wisconsin and hate the cold, so I moved to the Virgin Islands after college, and I’ve now found a weather-life balance here in Denver. A favorite quote of mine is…

Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and go where your heart takes you. —Unknown


Paige Shumaker – 8th grade science

This will be my first year at McAuliffe Manual and I am excited to join the MMMS team! I am originally from Michigan and I graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Education. I have spent the past two years teaching 6th grade science in Houston, Texas. I am looking forward to getting out of the heat and humidity! I moved to Denver this past summer and cannot wait to explore all that Denver has to offer. I have one fur baby, Dobby. Outside of teaching, I enjoy spending time outdoors, running, and reading. A favorite quote of mine is …

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. —Nelson Mandala

Andrea Sunday – intervention math

Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 3.47.42 PMChelsea Thiesse – 6th grade math

I grew up in Aurora and spent my college years in Fairfield, Connecticut. I then ventured across the pond to coach lacrosse (in England) before returning to back to Colorado. I enjoy traveling and exploring the outdoors with my husband Tyler, and our dogs, Lincoln and Willow. I am looking forward to an awesome year! Two of my favorite quotes are…

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? —Dr. Seuss!

It’s our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. —Albus Dumbledore

Jennifer Thomas – 8th grade language arts

Janelle Tribuzzi – ELD

I am thrilled to be part of the McAuliffe Manual Middle School team! Last year I worked as a literacy fellow and it was a rewarding experience, especially seeing the amount of growth that happened with our students’ reading and writing. This year I’m really excited to be working with English Language Learners. I look forward to helping them build their confidence with English, and helping them succeed in their other classes/middle school. I grew up in a small town south of Buffalo, NY, where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree in Literacy (K-12). I moved to Colorado after visiting, and I really love it here! When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, hiking, skiing, going for bike rides, camping, seeing live music/concerts, eating at new restaurants and traveling. I look forward to meeting everyone and to a great 2018-2019 school year!


Dylan Tuggle – MI para




Kristen Verner- Visual Art

WalkerBrooke Walker, PhD – Gifted & Talented

I’m very excited to join the faculty at McAuliffe Manual Middle School.  My passion is working with gifted and advanced students and I have done that for 16 years in the Denver Public Schools.  I am looking forward to working with  the students at MMMS. I have a Masters in Gifted Education and a PhD in Curriculum and Instructions; both received at the University of Denver while I worked at the Ricks Center for Gifted Children. I have three grown children and 8 grandchildren. My husband and I enjoy hiking and traveling. Our most recent trip was a cruise on the Baltic Sea to Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Russia.  A very beautiful part of the world.

Allison Walsh – psychologist

Rene Williams – MI Para


Denver Public Schools