Growing up in the midwest, I never thought I would live in Colorado; but now, I have been here since 2002! After spending several years leading wilderness trips and directing wilderness programs in northern Canada, Central America and California, I moved to Colorado to begin my classroom teaching career. Teaching middle school science, math and language arts at Odyssey proved to be the perfect mix for me: I got to connect my educational background in science (I graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree) with my previous outdoor education experience.
What I have learned about myself and students since I began at Odyssey, has exceeded every expectation I had about my career. After many years here, I continue to be passionate about the work we do at Odyssey; this is a special place, working to help students become innovative and passionate people who will impact their community in powerful ways. As Odyssey's Instructional Coach, I strive to support our teachers and students to reach that mission through professional development, teacher coaching and the refinement of Odyssey's systems and structures.
In my personal life, my husband and I love to fill our summers bike touring; While in Denver during the school year, we cross-country ski, run, spend time with friends and family, and play with our dog. Life is full -- and the Odyssey community plays an enormous role in that.
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 Enrollment/Communications
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!
Operations Director/504 Coordinator
My job at Odyssey is the definition of diverse; fundraising, student data and testing, human resources, and bookkeeping. But it is especially satisfying to join our crews on Adventure and Fieldwork. My favorites would have to be schlepping water up to the Tea House for a cold night at Stillpoint and seeing a huge sense of accomplishment on the faces of some 7th and 8th graders at the top of Mt. Bierstadt.
I love hiking up the mountains and skiing back down them, I am more comfortable sleeping in a tent than anywhere else, and feel so fortunate that I love coming to work everyday. I believe that music is best heard live, surrounding oneself with amazing people makes your day go just that much better, and that it is our responsibility to foster creative, loving, bright members for our community in our children.
Art Studio Teacher (Mon/Tues Crews)
I’m originally from the Midwest, growing up in Minneapolis and spending summers with my extended family in North East Iowa. I learned to love the outdoors because of camping, swimming in the Mississippi River, and roaming the countryside. After moving to Colorado 17 years ago, 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 7 years ago, and enjoy all the city’s museums, art walks, and local culture.
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 include 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.
4th/5th Grade Teacher
Alisha grew up in Denver, CO and was a student at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning (RMSEL). She received her BA and MA from the University of Colorado. She received her teaching certification from the Stanley Teacher Preparation Program. Alisha worked at Odyssey in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 as an assistant and a 7th grade Literacy teacher intern. In 2010, she planned and co-led the 7th and 8th grade trip to Israel and the West Bank. She’s returning to Odyssey after six years of leading a 4/5 crew at RMSEL.
Alisha has a love for life. Her spirit and empathy for all people is palpable. During the student interactions she had on the day of her interview, kids wanted to keep engaging with her long after their allotted time. In Alisha’s spare time, she loves to read and write. Alisha has also become an avid proponent of green building, recently remodeling her kitchen, living room and dining room using many green building techniques. Alisha brings a talent for leading adult learning. In 2014, she presented at EL Education’s national conference and has regularly served as a classroom lab teacher and mentor. She comes us hoping to grow her own teaching practice even more!
2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
I was born and raised in Minnesota along with my three siblings. Growing up on one of the many lakes in Minnesota, my family spent a lot of time on the water. This is where I developed my love of swimming, boating, kayaking, and just about all other things related to water sports. I began competitively swimming at a young age, and that would eventually lead me to a college athletics scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Swimming turned out to be a blessing in more ways than one, because on that team I met my husband. While on dry land, I studied elementary education and minored in Spanish, as well as linguistics with an emphasis in teaching English as a second language. After graduating, I moved to Leadville and taught third grade, and then my husband and I made our way to Denver. Now I have the privilege of being one of the lead teachers for second and third grade at Odyssey. This community is truly wonderful, and I feel so thankful to be a part of it!
Hi! My name is Willa and I am so excited to be joining the K/1 team this year. This will be my first year teaching at Odyssey, but I attended Odyssey as a student from 1998-2004, so it feels like coming home. I love the Odyssey community and remember my time as a student there fondly. I will never forget sleeping under the stars for the first time, working on an expedition with my crew, and all of the wonderful Odyssey traditions that still remain today. I feel so fortunate to be working with such an incredible team of teachers here. I recently finished my intern year through the Stanley Teacher Preparation Program where I taught at two different elementary schools, and have worked with children my whole life as a camp counselor, nanny, and theatre director. I majored in theatre during my undergrad and spent some time living in Barcelona after I graduated, working and acting with a theatre company over there. I am currently working on my masters in Education and Human Development and I love learning about how kids develop, grow, and best learn. When I am not teaching, I can be found hiking with my new puppy (Pepper), trying out new recipes in the kitchen, attending a local theatre production, or simply hanging out in the backyard with my family and friends. I am a Denver native and love everything about our beautiful state. I cannot wait to spend 5 days a week discovering, laughing, learning, and growing with my Odyssey crew!
My name is Emily. I grew up in Michigan and Kentucky, the middle of 3 girls. I loved my barefoot summers and early falls chasing fireflies with my sisters, swimming in lakes, and riding horses. This remains my ideal summer!
I knew a typical classroom environment was not best for many young learners, nor would it feed my soul as an educator. When an Odyssey K/1 position opened after my first year of teaching- I made the leap. I continue to pinch myself that I get to call Odyssey my teaching home. I feel so fortunate to teach in a community that truly values the “it takes a village” philosophy, where the mantra “we are crew, not passengers” is alive and strong, and where the mindset of “leap in, get stuck, push through” is encouraged of all learners- young and grown up alike. I love supporting Odyssey’s youngest learners in exploring, discovering, wondering, grappling, collaborating, researching, revising, playing, and growing. I am happy and proud to be part of a K/1 teaching team that honors and advocates for Odyssey’s youngest learners while also knowing what big and beautiful work they are capable of!
When not at Odyssey I can be found running before sunrise, hiking and exploring Colorado with my husband and two goofy labs, playing cards and sharing meals with good friends, and excitedly awaiting the birth of my first child.
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)!
Director of Adventure Programming
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."
7th/8th Grade Humanities Teacher
I am originally from Evergreen, CO, where I learned to hike, camp, and ski at a young age with my mom, dad, and sister. Early on, I also developed a love of reading, and learned that you can travel to any time period and meet the most incredible people through books.
My love of learning brought me to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, studying History and Asian Studies. Some highlights of my time at UPS include working as a trip leader and coordinator with the Outdoor Programs club, leading backpacking and canoeing orientation trips in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and traveling through nine different Asian countries on a year-long study abroad program. After graduating, I moved to Phoenix, AZ where I taught seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts for two years. I love working with middle school students, and I am thrilled to combine my passions for History and Literature as the new Humanities teacher. My hobbies include reading voraciously, long-distance running, cooking, traveling, and all things that involve being outdoors.
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/1/2 Math 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 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 feel so fortunate to be making the transition not only to Odyssey, but also to a specialist position in a subject that’s been my favorite since I was a kid. I love working with numbers and patterns and getting to be a part of the joy, creativity, and wonder of childhood.
As a native of New Hampshire growing up about a half an hour from the seacoast and an hour from the mountains, I developed an early appreciation of nature. In 2012, I graduated from Plymouth State University in the White Mountain National Forest area of New Hampshire with a degree in Psychology. During a road trip in 2011, the Rocky Mountains stole my heart. Shortly after graduation, I packed my car and headed west. Along the way I visited six National Parks with my cat Luna in a backpack!
I am the youngest of five siblings and one of the youngest of over 60 cousins. Being raised in a large family taught me to run fast, enjoy the small things, maintain a sense of humor and value differences in people.
After arriving in Denver, I started my first job as a Teacher’s assistant. I immediately felt at home and knew I had found my career path. As a graduate student at MSU Denver, I am incredibly thankful to be student teaching with Jason Shiroff this semester.
6th Grade Teacher
The start of my journey with Odyssey marks the beginning of my 9th year as an educator. I have taught in Mexico, Chile, Michigan, and Colorado. I received my undergraduate and graduate degree from the University of Michigan, and during that time I spent two and half years studying, teaching, and living in Santiago, Chile. In Chile I worked for an outdoor education company where I planned and led academic and adventure based trips into the Andes Mountains and throughout the Patagonia. After returning to the states I taught 5 years in Denver Public Schools, and then embarked on a 2 year adventure in Sayulita, Mexico where I taught 5th/6th grade and worked as an assessment coordinator and interventionist. My background in outdoor and adventure education has given me the skills to facilitate students in taking risks and breaking academic and personal barriers. Literacy, and love for literature is at the core of every multidisciplinary unit I’ve developed and implemented. 6th graders will transform as readers and writers as we study mentor texts, and experiment with our own voices as writers. We breath life into fiction and non-fiction as we move throughout the year. It is my commitment to each and every one of my students that they internalize and know that they are an integral member of our classroom community. Real world excursions have always provided the foundation for the thematic interdisciplinary units that I have built upon over the past six years. While much my work has been through the lens of Education For Sustainability standards, I am beyond excited to grow my craft as I learn from the Expeditionary learning community. As an educator at Odyssey I am committed to engaging all students and preparing them with the tools they need to address global and environmental problems and implement sustainable solutions. Let the adventures begin!
7th/8th Grade Math Teacher
I was born and raised on the east coast, but have lived in Denver since 2001! My husband and I have two amazing children, Haven & Holden, who are happy members of the Odyssey community.
I have worked at Odyssey since fall of 2012, but I have been working with high school and middle school students since 2002. My love for teaching at an Expeditionary Learning school comes from a lifetime of digging deep into questions and issues, taking my learning personally and often finding inspiration to act in my learning. My love for teaching math is public and personal; math is a tool that everyone deserves to use confidently, and math is just plain fun!
The Odyssey community is my family's village, and I feel so grateful to participate in this community of enthusiastic learners and compassionate humans.
I've been Odyssey’s Physical Education Teacher since the Fall of 2005. I have a BA in Kinesiology from the University of Northern Colorado, with an emphasis in Outdoor Physical Education and K-12 licensure. I am also WFR (wilderness first responder) certified and am always thrilled when I get to lead/co-lead, support, or accompany crews on Adventure outings. I love (and greatly connect with) Odyssey's experiential-based and adventure-based learning philosophy -- with our great bend toward character & habits education.
My personal loves and passions (besides my family & teaching) are biking, motorcycling, camping, hiking, climbing anything, rollerblading, baking, writing, reading, exploring, traveling, languages, music, grilling, coffee & craft beers, campfires, and building stuff.
I was born in Ft. Madison, Iowa in February of 1970 (both sets of grandparents being 2nd generation mid-west farming families of English/German descent) but I was raised in NW Denver from the age of six. I graduated from North High School in 1988. I spent three years in the U.S. Army (stationed in Mainz, Germany and then Ft. Campbell, KY), from 1990 to 1993. I spent most of the next decade doing all sorts of lovely and hard stuff (mostly marriage, kids, working, and finishing college).
My first real career job out of college was landing the Odyssey Physical Education position under Nelson Chase (a previous director), after a year of substitute teaching in Greeley Colorado. I have been married to my wife, Anita, since 1995. We have two children. Our daughter Zoe graduated from Odyssey in 2012 -- at Odyssey since 2nd grade. Our son Max graduated in 2015 -- at Odyssey since Kindergarten.
Special Education/2nd/4th Grade Literacy
Grades 6 Math, Intervention
Although I am not crew leader, I wear a few different “hats” at Odyssey. In addition to teaching 6th grade math, I also work as an interventionist for grades 6-8. This means that I support a variety of students in literacy and math when they need extra support or extensions.
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.
7th/8th Grade Science Teacher
I was born and raised in northern Michigan, where I acquired a big love for the outdoors. Just after completing my Bachelor´s degree in fisheries and wildlife management from Michigan State University (Go Green!), I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii to conduct water quality research for the National Park Service. While working with the Park Service, I discovered how wonderful it was to work with K-12 students who visited the park. It wasn’t long before I received my teaching credential and began teaching science at a project-based charter school in Kona.
While teaching in Kona, I was lucky enough to partner with various non-profit organizations to conduct research while incorporating real-world science into my science curriculum. It was there I discovered the best way teach is to find relevant and exciting connections to the work being done in our local communities. I developed and implemented science curriculum with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as well as local non-profits such as the Kula Naia Foundation and the Hawaii Wildlife Center.
After teaching in Hawaii for several years, I felt the pull to go back to graduate school and completed my Master’s in Geography. As a National Science Foundation – Graduate Research Fellow and graduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, I researched community-based conservation and ecotourism in northeastern Tanzania. It was an incredible experience, but one that made me realize my biggest passion is in education. I returned to teaching after completing my Master’s degree and have been working with middle-schoolers ever since!
Most recently, I have spent the last three years teaching and traveling throughout Europe. After two wonderful years teaching science in Rome, I taught for a year at an international school in Barcelona. When I am not teaching, I like to spend my time doing anything outdoors - but, especially running, biking, skiing, and camping in remote/hard to reach spots. I also love planning my next trip and Skyping with my big, goofy family in the Midwest.
Art Studio Coordinator (W/Th Crews)
I grew up in the heart of Chicago, and have been strongly influenced by my childhood there surrounded by the lake, the museums, and the diversity of a large city. My family had a love for skiing, and I feel in love with the mountains through family trips out West. I completed my BFA in Art and Anthropology at the University of Iowa, which was sprinkled with travels through Latin America. I moved to Fort Collins where I played completive ultimate frisbee, hiked, camped and ran the Poudre Canyon regularly. I returned to Chicago to complete my Masters degree at the School of the Art Institute, and completed my teaching certification at Colorado State University. I met my husband playing ultimate here in Denver, and together we have three beautiful kiddos - KJ (Jason's Crew), Scarlet (Emily's crew) and Etta Jo (Kindergarten class of 2020!). I feel so fortunate to be at Odyssey where my passion for both art and the outdoors are central values!
4th/5th Grade Teacher
I am proud to be one of the few Denver natives around and an alumni of the 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. I learned Spanish, developed eco-tourism projects, and began my teaching career. I taught environmental education in small village schools in the beautiful Guatemalan countryside. 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 now charter schools. With each school deepening my practice and experiences. I love teaching at The Odyssey School because of its focus on character as well as academics. I appreciate the vision set by our design principles. It is an honor and a pleasure to work in such an intentional, caring, and rigorous environment. Outside of school, I am part of the Denver Writing Project leadership team. I run my own small web design business. My hobbies include riding my recumbent bicycle, spending time outside, writing, and enjoying music. Most importantly, I am a father to a wonderful toddler who amazes me and makes me laugh everyday.
2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
Roxanne grew up in St. Louis, spending her free time playing anything and everything outdoors with her two sisters, and hiking and camping with her family in the summertime. She started teaching 3rd grade in 2008 after graduating from Truman State University with an MAE in Elementary Education and BA in Communications, but yearned to live in a place where she could immerse herself in the outdoors and mountains year-round and moved to Denver in 2010.
She began teaching in DPS as a K-3 reading interventionist. As a lover of books and reading since she was young, this was a great fit for Roxanne to bring her passion of the subject area to help students who struggled start to take pleasure in and feel successful reading. She enjoys teaching the building blocks of literacy and transferring students’ skill sets from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” It was in Denver that she learned about the EL philosophy and knew this “learning by doing” aligned with her personal views of education. To bring this learning model into her own teaching, she started working at an environmental education summer camp, connecting children to nature through joyful, hands-on, place-based education. Following a personal dream, Roxanne took a year off teaching to travel to South America and Southeast Asia where she volunteered teaching English, worked on organic farms, completed a yoga teacher training, and learned and experienced new landscapes and cultures. After experiencing the EL model herself, Roxanne knew she had to teach in an EL school upon returning.
DPS Support Staff