Faculty & Staff Bios


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.



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





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



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


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



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 – 

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



Dylan Tuggle – MI para




Kristen Verner- Visual Art

Allison Walsh – psychologist

Rene Williams – MI Para


Denver Public Schools