I moved to Denver in 1998 to pursue my Master’s and teaching credential, after working in corporate positions in San Francisco for several years. Soon after beginning my studies at University of Colorado, Boulder I began my student teaching at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning (RMSEL), where I first learned about the power of teaching academics and character in student-centered and meaningful ways. I was hired a few months later as a Middle School Humanities Teacher and spent the next seven years teaching and planning expeditions, fieldwork, and service learning for middle and high school students, while obtaining my national board certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts.
After leaving RMSEL, I went on to teach and lead in Denver Public Schools for seven years, where I taught in a turnaround school, served as an Assessment Specialist for the district, and worked as an Assistant Principal at Westerly Creek Elementary. In 2013, I returned to EL as a School Designer, and I supported Colorado schools with implementing EL’s core practices. After a brief stint with the Colorado Department of Education, I served as a Turnaround Support Manager where I coached leaders in struggling schools and districts. In 2016, I became Executive Director at Odyssey, where my son is a student. I am committed to increasing clarity of our mission and vision of our remarkable school, setting measurable and shared goals with staff, board members and parents, and holding ourselves accountable for meeting these student-centered goals.
I am a proud Denver native. I have been married to my husband, Phil, for 19 years. We have been blessed with one terrific son, Colton, who has recently graduated Odyssey this last spring 2015.
I am honored and excited to be the new Front Office Manager. I have been part of the Odyssey community as a parent for 9 years and have subbed in this position for approximately for 6 years.
I look forward to continuing to be involved in the strong Odyssey foundation, working alongside the amazing staff and to be gifted to work with the children.
Director of Operations
I am a Denver native and graduate of Denver Public Schools. I attended the University of Colorado, Boulder and received a Bachelor's degree in Film Studies. I have two amazing children, Jack & Maggie, who are Odyssey graduates.
I have worked at Odyssey since fall of 1999! The Odyssey community is my extended family and I feel so fortunate to watch and participate in the growth and learning of so many awesome young people!
Assistant Executive Director
I am proud to be a Denver native and an alumnus of Denver Public Schools. After graduating from the International Baccalaureate program at George Washington High School, I studied Environmental Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. While there, I also earned certificates in Peace and Conflict Studies and social change/community organizing.
My post-college days brought me to Guatemala where I was a Peace Corps volunteer for two years. Upon returning to the US, I completed a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver and began teaching full time. I’ve taught in private, public, and charter schools, including serving at Odyssey since 2005.
My hobbies include cycling, running, hiking, poetry, gardening, cooking, and spending time with my spouse and two wonderful children.
4th/5th Grade Teacher
While I've lived in many different places, Denver has always been my home. I graduated from the IB program at Littleton High School and then went on to explore Literature and Italian at Washington University in St. Louis. I have always enjoyed learning, had an itch for travel, and a desire to serve others. These combined passions inspired me to volunteer in India where I fell in love with the art of teaching. I then received my Masters degree at Northwestern and began learning alongside my students on the West side of Chicago. After a few years, I shifted to serve the community of Gary, Indiana at KIPP:LEAD Charter School. When that opportunity came to a close, I ventured to Indonesia where I taught 5th grade at Jakarta Intercultural School. Last year I joined Odyssey as a 4th/5th grade crew lead and I am thankful to be a part of a community of learners who explore, try things out, reflect and grow together. Outside of school you will find me exploring the city, building new friendships, adventuring into nature, reading books and enjoying the simple comfort of being home.
My name is Heidi, and I’m the Kindergarten Crew Lead. I’m originally from Latrobe, PA, which is a small-town east of Pittsburgh. Fun fact: Latrobe is the hometown of Mr. Rogers! Growing up in rural area meant that I spent a lot of time building forts in the winter, running around barefoot in the summer, and creating my own fun and homegrown expeditions. I started my teaching career in Plano, Tx and taught for four years in the 1st and 4th grades. In 2009 I moved to New York City to begin a graduate program in International Education Development, with a focus in Peace & Human Rights Education. It was during this time that I learned of Expeditionary Learning (now EL Education). Believing that a high-quality education is a fundamental human right for all children, EL’s emphasis on educational equity and social justice resonated deeply. In 2011 I applied to EL schools across the country and landed at Capital City Public Charter School, an EL Mentor school in Washington, DC. I spent three years teaching in the 6th and 1st grades and then most recently served as the Reading Intervention Specialist in grades 1-4. This is my 11th year teaching, and I am so thrilled to be joining the Odyssey Crew alongside its youngest learners who are not afraid to ask big questions and work creatively to explore the answers. Outside of teaching I enjoy practicing yoga, training for triathlons, exploring new trails, and sending snail-mail to friends and family.
Art Studio Teacher
I’m originally from the Midwest, growing up in Minneapolis and spending summers with my extended family in North East Iowa. I have fond memories of catching fireflies on the porch, camping with family, swimming in the Mississippi River, and roaming the countryside. After moving to Colorado, my love of the outdoors has only grown. Escaping to the mountains for a hike or a weekend camping trip are among my favorite activities. I landed in Denver about 9 years ago, and enjoy all the city has to offer. I am constantly inspired by local artists and exhibitions in both my own work and my teaching practice. I love researching contemporary artists and often get lost in their work, like getting lost in a good book.
I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts, with an emphasis in painting and Art Education, from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Through my studies at MSU Denver, I had the opportunity to participate in several arts programs that allowed me to travel as I learned. Some of which included Plein Air Painting at Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch, and studying abroad focusing on photography and Renaissance art in Florence, Italy.
I have always had a passion for teaching and sharing my love of art with others. I had the privilege of student teaching at Odyssey, and have fallen in love with the Expeditionary Learning model. I am thrilled to be apart of this incredible community and am looking forward to learning and growing along side our wonderful students and teachers.
4th/5th Grade Teacher
Alisha Black-Mallon was first introduced to Expeditionary Learning at the age of eleven, when she attended the first EL school opened here in Denver. She fell in love with the constructivist, hands-on, whole child philosophy, and has now been teaching in EL Schools for the past eleven years. Alisha's passions are reading, writing & language, which is what drove her to study Literature, Arabic & Peace and Conflict Studies at CU Boulder. She holds a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology, intentionally weaving social emotional intelligence curriculum into her classroom culture. In her free time, Alisha loves to dance, ride her bike, and tinker, is part of a Women's building collective, and is excited to become a mother some day soon.
K-3 Literacy Specialist
Hi, my name is Emily and I am a mama to two beautiful souls and I am a passionate educator. After a decade in the K-1 classroom, I began a new chapter with reading intervention. Supporting our readers who need extra practice, confidence, and time has been a beautiful fit and an unexpected gift in my life. This work feeds my soul in countless ways. When not teaching our youngest the foundational reading skills that allow them to crack the alphabetic code and unlock their lives as readers, I am busy playing and laughing with my family. We love skipping stones at our favorite lake, sitting on our porch watching mountain sunsets, and eating too much dough when baking. Parenthood instilled in me the insatiable desire to document my son and daughter’s days, so you may also see me with my camera in tow, trying to capture the unique spirit that is our Odyssey school and community.
2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
Billy was born in Rhode Island and grew up in Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) with a degree in music, he moved to Denver (where his father and grandparents spent much of their lives) to enjoy all that this wonderful city and its surroundings have to offer. In 2005, Billy began working at the Odyssey School of Denver as a teaching assistant. After returning to the role of student at UC Denver and earning his Master's degree in education, Billy gratefully accepted his current role as a lead teacher of second and third grade in 2010. He is thrilled and proud to be a part of this committed, driven, adventurous, and compassionate crew of staff members. Some of Billy's favorite ways to pass the time outside of school include playing, listening to, and dancing to live music, and perhaps above all, skiing through heaps of powder with dear friends (many of whom are also Odyssey staffers)!
3rd/4th Grade Math Teacher
Growing up in OH-IO as the youngest of six siblings I spent a lot of time trying to keep up with my brothers and sisters on all of their adventures. After graduating from Ohio University I spent several years teaching in the classroom, as well as guiding and directing various outdoor programs. As the Director of Adventure Programming at Odyssey I get the unique opportunity to combine my passions for adventure and education. At Odyssey, "together, students and adults discover they can do more than they thought possible and find aspects of themselves that they didn't know were there."
K/1 Teacher Assistant
I have been a member of the Odyssey community since 2002! I'm a Denver native growing up in Park Hill mostly. I love watching the learning that happens here every day and seeing children grow. I also love my co-workers! My family is also growing as my husband and I are very excited to have our first child this year!
K/1 Lead Teacher
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but growing up I spent my summers on a sandbar in Lake Erie and my winters on a snowboard in Keystone. When I was 9 my family moved to Warsaw, Poland, for 3 years, and the international community left a lasting impact on my love for new experiences and appreciation for perspectives different from my own.
After receiving my Masters in Early Childhood Education and teaching both 1st and 2nd grade in St. Louis for 4 years, I stumbled upon some books about EL Education. When I first learned about this approach I was overwhelmed with how well it aligned with my own goals and values as an educator, and knew it was the direction in which I wanted to take my teaching career. I joined the Odyssey community during the 2016–17 school year as the K–2 math specialist, and am so grateful to now be learning and playing alongside Odyssey's youngest learners as a K/1 lead teacher.
Director of Adventure Programming
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” I grew up on the east coast in Massachusetts. When I was 16 I had a life-changing experience rafting the deep canyons of the west and I was inspired to discover the world outside my front door. At 18 I moved to the western United States and I graduated from Colorado State University achieving a degree in Wildlife Biology with minors in Fisheries and Rangeland Ecology, which led to my passion for teaching in an outdoor environment through recreation and stewardship. I lived in Western United States for 5 years until seeking experience internationally working and living in Australia for 3 years. I have been an active outdoor professional for the last 13 years. I began guiding rafting trips on the Arkansas River, which led to more intense wilderness-based expeditions with Outward Bound, Collegiate Universities, and Commercial Guiding Outfitters throughout the United States. I have worked and traveled throughout the world to broaden my knowledge and experience to construct high quality adventure-based programs for groups of all ages. I am a new resident to Denver and I own two active dogs. I have been a Volunteer Ski Patroller and a teacher of CPR. I also teach wilderness medicine for the Longleaf Wilderness Medicine Company because I believe in the positive impact that it can have on a person’s life by empowering people to respond in both front and back country settings. I am incredibly excited to be working within the Odyssey community as the new Director of Adventure Programming. It will be an amazing opportunity to work with students and their families to help support and accomplish the mission of the Odyssey School of Denver.
5th/6th Grade Math Teacher
As my first year at Odyssey I am looking forward to jumping into a new math curriculum this year and meeting all the amazing staff and students I hear so much about. I love all the opportunities EL presents. I was born in Iowa, grew up in Nebraska, and worked at IBM-Boulder for my first career out of college. I went back to grad school to change careers to teaching math the past 12 years, because I felt successful at IBM but never significant. I love it so much now. I have always played sports...high school-college sports, then competitive volleyball mostly the past 25 years. I was fortunate enough to get to backpack some of the world in college and later again playing some international volleyball tournaments, but still plan to see more of the world as I get older. My two dogs and my friends are my family here in Colorado. Besides movies, travel, and sports, I have gotten more into fixing up my 1880’s rowhouse in the downtown area here...SLOW labor of love. I have not yet decided where I will be buried. 😉
7th/8th Grade Science Teacher
As an adventurer, athlete and outdoorswoman, I needed to be active to learn. In college, I found my academic home in the Earth sciences, studying geomorphology, glaciology, and paleoclimatology, performing fieldwork in Alaska and the high Canadian Arctic. I spent time in the Colorado Rockies as well, studying plants, rockslides, snow, glaciers, forests and weather. I met my amazing husband Barnabas in Vermont after I graduated and settled down a bit to start a family, but knew I’d return to Colorado as soon as I could. Passionate about sharing what I learn, after moving to Arizona in 1993, I began teaching college geology part time while working for engineers as their staff geologist. After receiving my teaching certificate at Prescott College, I started teaching middle school science in 1999, and other than a few years teaching high school science and two years as an instructional coach, I have been doing that ever since. Many of these years have been at EL schools, allowing me the deep work I hold in such high regard. My interest in the Polar Regions resurfaced in 2006 when I was selected to participate as a PolarTREC teacher in Svalbard, Norway studying climate change near the North Pole. I then earned my Master of Science at Montana State University in Science Education in 2010. I was honored last year to participate in a month long research project airborne over Antarctica with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, collecting airborne data on land and sea ice thickness and extent. Always excited to network with scientists and share our broader impacts, I often present at professional conferences such as National Science Teacher Association and American Geophysical Union. Getting to teach at Odyssey’s middle school is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I am excited to work with your students and families, sharing my passion for science.
Gifted & Talented Coordinator
Growing up on a family farm in southern Minnesota, I spent much of my free time playing and learning in the great outdoors. After high school, I was drawn to the buzz of the city and moved to Minneapolis where I studied at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, earning a bachelor's degree in human resources and industrial relations and a minor in social services. I had the opportunity to work for a start-up international NGO in London focused on the advocacy of urban street children. Here I realized that access to a quality education can make a profound impact on the trajectory of a child's life. And so I was hooked.
After college I moved to New York City where worked for the national education non-profit Teach For America, helping recruit and support teachers as well as develop staff members through a variety of leadership roles. I eventually recruited myself to the classroom, and while pursuing a master's degree in elementary and special education, I started my career as a founding Kindergarten teacher at a KIPP elementary school in the South Bronx.
In 2011, I moved to Colorado, where I taught a class of English language learners through a K/1 loop at a turn-around re-start school in Montbello. Here I thought deeply about the presence and power school leadership has on school culture, inspiring me to earn my certificate in school leadership through the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Denver. Along the way I met Marcia, and I found my way to Odyssey.
This is my third year here teaching the joy of mathematics to kindergarteners and first graders, as well as supporting elementary special education efforts. I am also an active Teach For America alumni board member. Last year, I was profoundly inspired by the journey of motherhood when my bright, beautiful baby was born, so in addition to spending my free time in the great outdoors with my dear husband and sweet daughter, I have a passion for supporting other mamas pursuing a balance between work and family.
7th/8th Grade Math Teacher
Teacher on Special Assignment
I grew up on the east coast, in a town just north of Boston, where my family still calls home. I visit them often and when I do, I love spending time boating, swimming and playing in the ocean. Although I love Colorado’s mountains, and have been here for 15 years, I’m definitely an ocean girl at heart.
As for my teaching path, I started teaching at Odyssey in 2000, when I was an intern teacher in a 3rd& 4th grade classroom. I then taught 5th & 6th grade at Odyssey for the next 4 years at both the Elm St., and Stapleton locations. After a stint teaching 6th grade at an EL school in California, and 5 great years teaching 4th & 5th grade at RMSEL (Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning) in Denver, I found my way back to Odyssey in 2011. In addition to teaching, I’ve held other roles in the schools in which I have worked. I served on the Odyssey board, the RMSEL leadership team, and I’ve been a mentor teacher to three intern teachers. Currently, I am on Odyssey’s instructional leadership team. All in all, I’m enthusiastic about teaching and learning and I feel lucky to be part of such a strong and vibrant educational community here at Odyssey. It’s an honor and a gift to teach alongside such talented and driven educators.
Outside of my teaching life, I ride my bike as much as I can, I love to ski, I read a lot, I enjoy playing Scrabble and all sorts of games, I try to sew and knit and be somewhat crafty, I cook when I’m not too tired, and I practice a lot of yoga during the school year. This summer my wife and I spent a few weeks camping in our VW van, exploring our favorite places in Colorado, like Crested Butte, while also adventuring to new spots, like Silverton as well.
Julie Neitz Wielga
Partners in Literacy
Julie brings all her experience from being a community organizer, classroom teacher and reading specialist to make Partners in Literacy a unique organization. She believes that books and libraries are the perfect center of any school. Over and over again she sees teachers, volunteers,and students, together and independently truly engaged with literature and content that broadens deepens and challenges them. Julie is founder and director of Partners in Literacy.
K/1/2 Math Teacher
6th Grade Teacher
2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
Originally from “The Mitten”, Katie realized her passion for teaching at a young age volunteering in her mom’s classroom. However, it took an undergraduate degree in English and Brain Science at the University of Michigan before she officially pursued her calling.
Katie joins Odyssey after five years serving as an upper elementary teacher at Capital City PCS in Washington, DC, where she received her Masters in Teaching and met her husband (a Centennial, Colorado native). Katie is thrilled to find her home away from home at Odyssey.
Katie is a lover of the outdoors, creative writing, gardening, fitness, and baking. On the weekends, she can often be found reading books her students recommend, cooing at every animal that passes by, and pretending she’s on HGTV, taking on home improvement projects that usually end horribly.
7th/8th Grade Humanities Teacher
I joined the Odyssey community in 2017 after six years of teaching in Washington, DC. I grew up mostly overseas, attending international schools in Belize, Egypt, and Jordan, before completing high school and college in Virginia. After studying English Literature at the College of William and Mary, I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Northwest Washington State, where I worked as a literacy tutor at an elementary school. After two years in WA, I returned to DC to complete a Master's in Education and discovered EL while completing my student teaching at Capital City Public Charter School, another EL Mentor School. I taught 6th grade Humanities for four years and 8th grade English for one at DC International School, an IB World School. Outside of school, you can find me playing music, riding my bike, or playing soccer. I appreciate the opportunity to support middle school students in becoming stronger readers, writers, and thinkers and preparing them for the important transition to high school.
DPS Support Staff
School Health Professional
I grew up in Golden, Colorado and graduated from Wheat Ridge High School. I went to Metropolitan State University of Denver and began teaching English Language Arts in Denver Public Schools soon after I graduated. In the meantime, I was very involved in community theater around the Denver metro area, and after teaching reading and writing for 15 years, began teaching Drama at the middle school level. Soon after, I had a strong desire to work with students in a different capacity, and decided to get my Master’s in School Counseling.
Now I have the pleasure of working as a School Health Professional, focusing on drug and alcohol prevention and mental health wellness. I am thrilled to be working at Odyssey on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year.
I absolutely love Colorado and enjoy all the wonderful things it has to offer such as hiking, biking, camping, and anything outdoors!