Faculty & Staff Bios

Faculty/Administration Contact list
Faculty & Staff Bios
Administration Bios
Careers at MMMS

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

Rachel Cassidy DavisRachel Cassidy Davis – Drama/Choir






Samantha Cohen – MI Center Program 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 – Physical Education


Chris Deremer – Dean of Culture  christopher_deremer@dpsk12.org 


Leonard Donadio – 6th & 7th Grade Math





Jeff Elliott – Social Studies

I grew up in Colorado and don’t see myself ever leaving. I completed both my BA and MA at the University of Denver. I worked as a 9th grade Pre-AP World History teacher last year and I student-taught at Manual High School the year before that. Other than teaching, I love spending time in this beautiful state, fishing, snowboarding or camping.


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!


Sarah Frederick – 7th Grade Social Studies

This will be the start of my eighth year in Denver Public Schools and I am excited to be joining the McAuliffe Manual Team. I have taught 7th through 10th grade history and I love teaching middle schoolers! I completed my undergraduate history degree at Metropolitan State University of Denver and I received a master’s degree in reading instruction from Regis University. I am currently working on another master’s degree at the University of Denver in Educational Leadership. When I’m not teaching, I spend time with my husband and my dog, hanging out or spending time outdoors hiking, snowboarding or camping. I look forward to teaching our amazing students this school year! A favorite quote of mine is…

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcom X.


Stephanie Graves – MI Program

I am very excited to be working at our new school and to be launching our new 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 6 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 when ever possible. You can always find us at the swimming pool, ball park, or skiing on the mountain.

Teagan Griffith – Special Education and MI Center Program


Jose Hernandez – Spanish



Michael Anne Higgins – Visual Arts

I am very excited to be a part of the McAuliffe Manual Middle School team! I’m originally from Ohio and graduated from Miami University with a degree in Art Education. When I’m not in the classroom, you can find me camping, hiking, skiing, or doing something outdoors! I look forward to bringing my love of nature back into the classroom this year.


Lizzie Hoff – 6th Grade Language Arts

Our first year at MMMS was an incredible experience – it was truly powerful to see such a diverse student population come together and form a strong, unique community. This year, I am really looking forward to meeting our new 6th graders, getting to know all of our new team members, and becoming a part of the Manual High School campus family! This is my fifth year teaching middle school in DPS. I love the goofy, awkward, self-discovery (and sometimes hot mess) adventure that is middle school! I got my start teaching at Hamilton Middle School, where I taught 6th and 7th grade language arts for more than three years. Last year I learned a great deal about myself, both as a teacher and an individual, and I am confident that this year will be even better with our returning students, new students and strong team. Outside of teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our dog, exploring the ever-growing food scene in Denver, being active, playing trivia, and anything Harry Potter. This fall, I am also starting graduate school at the University of Colorado Denver to study school counseling (so bring on ALL the coffee!). A favorite quote of mine is…

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” —James Keller


Jennifer Hoyle – Engineering





Amanda Hynson – 8th grade Social Studies


Jonas Headshot

John Jonas – Music

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 it. 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


Aimee Justice-Lundt  – Gifted/Talented

I love being with kids and knew I wanted to teach at a young age. I graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon with a BA in Psychology and Art. The following year, I earned my MA in Early Childhood Education through a joint training program at the University of Colorado at Denver and Stanley British Primary School. I taught school until I had children and came back to teaching 8 years ago. I have been a Gifted and Talented coordinator with DPS for the past 6 years. In 2015, I earned my EdS in Leadership and Administration. I am thrilled to be at McAuliffe Manual because I believe in the IB model and am excited about the opportunities to grow the GT program. As a Manual High School alum, it feels good to have come full circle.

A favorite quote of mine is…

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Mahatma Gandhi


Samantha Knipp – 7th grade Science and Senior Team Lead

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 – Special Education


Julie Malek  – Innovation Lab Coordinator julie_malek@dpsk12.org

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! One of my favorite quotes is…

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

Amber McCullough – 7th and 8th Engineering



Cindy Moneyhon  – Math Intervention

I am so excited to be part of the Thunder! I am starting my 7th year in education and am super passionate about Math! EVERYONE is a mathematician!  I am from Fort Worth, Texas and began teaching in Austin in an independent school district. I moved to Denver three years ago with my husband and two dogs. I have been teaching in DSST for the past three years.  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.

Marie Neelis – 6th Grade Language Arts marie_neelis@dpsk12.org

Rachel Piepsny – Language Arts


Matthew Raymond – Physical Education and Athletic Director



Lucy Roberts – Nurse lucy_roberts@dpsk12.org

Roholt Headshot

Taylor Roholt – French

This will be my first year teaching at McAuliffe Manual and I am thrilled to join the World Languages team! I spent the last 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 joining the Denver community full-time now 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

Evan Rutberg – 8th Language Arts


I am extremely excited to be joining the McAuliffe Manual team this year!  My family and I will be moving to Denver from Brooklyn, NY. When I’m not reading, which is most of the time, I love riding the subway with my son, painting with my daughter, and traveling with my wife. We are all really excited to spend some time in the mountains. This will be somewhat of a Colorado homecoming for me as I attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins for my Master’s degree- I can’t wait to be back!  One of my favorite quotes is

Remind yourself, nobody’s built like you, you designed yourself.—Jay Z

Rachel Shea – Data Specialist rachel_shea@dpsk12.org

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

Jennifer Snodgrass – Network Literacy Coordinator jennifer_snodgrass@dpsk12.org

I am so happy to be working with the amazing ELA teams at both MIS and MMMS this year. As part of the McAuliffe team since the first year, I know our model promises to bring high-quality, rigorous, joyful learning to all students. I love the work I do supporting teachers in this mission. This will be my 16th year in education and my 13th year in middle school. I returned to the profession five years ago after taking off some time to raise my kids. I have taught everything from 6th through 11th grades and have gradually shifted my focus to curriculum, data and teacher support over the past three years. I grew up in Connecticut, went to college in Virginia and then graduate school in Boulder. My husband and I have been together since we were 18! When we are not working or attending our kids’ sporting events, we enjoy skiing, hiking, dinner with friends, playing cards and sitting on our front porch. A favorite quote of mine is…

“I say, there is no darkness but ignorance.” –William Shakespeare

Andrea Sunday – Math  andrea_sunday@dpsk12.org


Chelsea Thiesse – 6th Grade Math

This is my first year with McAuliffe. I taught 3rd grade in Aurora Public Schools for the last 4 years and I am beyond excited to join the MMS team. I grew up in Aurora and completed my BA and MA 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 fiancé Tyler, and our puppy, Lincoln. 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

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 Paraprofessional






Scott Williamson – 6th Grade Science/Engineering

I am returning to MMMS as our 6th grade science teacher; last year I was a Math Fellow and I got to know our (now) 7th grade students and dynamic staff.  My wife and I moved to Denver in 2015 to be closer to family after the birth of our son, Micah (2 years old). I have also lived in Columbia, MO; Northfield, MN and Seattle, WA. My favorite thing in the world is to swim in a cold, clear mountain lake. Coaching baseball for MMMS last year was a dream come true. A favorite quote of mine is…

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”—Nelson Henderson

Denver Public Schools