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, where I supported Colorado schools with implementing EL’s core practices and led strategic planning, curriculum development, data analysis and professional learning. After a brief stint with the Colorado Department of Education where I served as a Turnaround Support Manager in which I coached leaders in struggling schools and districts, I took the interim Executive Director position at Odyssey, where my son is entering the 3rd grade. I am committed to see Odyssey through its next chapter, by increasing clarity of our mission and vision, setting measurable and shared goals that align, and holding ourselves accountable for meeting these 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 12-years at Odyssey.
My hobbies include cycling, running, hiking, poetry, gardening, cooking, and spending time with my spouse and two wonderful children.
4th/5th Grade Teacher
Although I haven't lived in Colorado for many years, Denver has always been my home and I am looking forward to returning to my family and those beautiful, blue skies. 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. Having spent more than ten years teaching upper elementary students, I am thrilled to join Odyssey as a 4th/5th grade crew teacher. I look forward to being part of a community of learners who explore, try things out, reflect and grow together. Denver has changed a lot since I've been away so outside of school you will find me exploring the city, building new friendships, appreciating nature, reading books and enjoying the simple comfort of being home.
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 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!
Hi! My name is Willa and I am thrilled to be one of the K/1 Crew Leads. This will be my second year teaching at Odyssey. 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 majored in theatre during my undergrad and spent some time living in Barcelona after I graduated, working and acting with a theatre company. Then, I went through the Stanley Teacher Prep program in 2015 and just finished my masters in Education and Human Development at CU Denver this past summer. When I am not teaching, I can be found hiking with my 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 am grateful I get to spend 5 days a week discovering, laughing, learning, and growing with my Odyssey crew!
K-3 Literacy Specialist
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)!
7th/8th 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."
3rd/4th Grade Math Teacher
As a little girl growing up in Minnesota near the lakes, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher, and that I loved being outdoors. Moving to Colorado after studying Elementary Education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, was perfect! I moved to the mountains of Leadville, where I taught third grade and specialized in math. While in Leadville, I fell in love with EL Education, and grew my passion of teaching math in a way that builds conceptual understanding for kids. The little school in Leadville was new to EL Education, and had the honor of being mentored by the Odyssey School of Denver. I was blown away by the Odyssey community, and the professional learning opportunities that I experienced, but never imagined that working here would be possible. Then, a couple years later, I got married and moved to Denver. To my amazement, Odyssey had an opening, and my dream of being a part of this community came true! I started out at Odyssey as a 2/3 Crew Leader, and now teach 3rd and 4th grade math, as well as special education. I am thankful to be a part of this special place.
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 excited to return to a lead teaching role this year with Odyssey's youngest learners.
6th Grade Teacher
As I begin my second year at Odyssey, it marks my 10th 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 will 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 and continue to serve as the foundation of teaching and learning in my classroom. 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
K/1/2 Math Teacher
7th/8th Grade Humanities Teacher
I am excited to be joining the Odyssey community after six years of teaching in Washington, DC. Born in Massachusetts, I grew up mostly overseas, in Belize, Egypt, and Jordan, before moving to Virginia for high school. I graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, with a major in English Literature. I discovered my love of teaching when completing two years of AmeriCorps service in Northwest Washington State, where I served as a literacy tutor at an elementary school in Bellingham, WA. I moved back to the DC area in 2011 to pursue a Master’s in Education and fell in love with EL while completing my student teaching at Capital City Public Charter School, an EL Education Mentor School. I taught 6th grade Humanities for four years and also taught 8th grade English at DC International School, an IB World School. Outside of school, I love playing music, riding my bike, and playing soccer! I am excited to be joining the Odyssey community as the new 7th/8th grade Humanities teacher!
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