Cecilia Alban, Spanish
Cecilia was born in La Rioja, Argentina. She is a lawyer, and her first language is Spanish. She moved to Denver in 2009 when she married her husband. When she lived in Argentina, she worked in the Senate and taught International Law in the University. Cecilia has been teaching and working as a Spanish tutor for 5 years. This is her second year as a Spanish teacher at Mountain Phoenix. She always says that this is the most rewarding and enjoyable work that she has ever had. Working with children, she has the opportunity not only to teach Spanish but to share Latin American Culture through the use of storytelling, songs, plays, and even recipes that she used with her mom when she was a child.
Cecilia and her husband enjoy traveling to different countries and learning about other cultures, food, and people. She has visited 25 states in the US and many countries in Asia, Europe, and South America. She loves to cook, knit, bake, and read, but teaching Spanish is one of her favorites activities.
Cecilia believes Mountain Phoenix is a great school and feels that she is working with amazing people. She hopes she can continue to be part of MPCS for many years to come.
Leslie Hillen, Coordinator
Originally from St. Louis, MO, Leslie came to Colorado for college and has loved it ever since. She taught ESL in Denver Public Schools for the past four years. Prior to that, Leslie taught in Los Angeles, CA, and Portland, OR, and she lived in Japan for one year teaching English. Leslie has been the AVID coordinator for the past seven years coordinating professional development and teacher coaching while being a classroom teacher. When she was teaching ESL, most of her students were refugees. Leslie has taken the foundation Waldorf teacher training through Rudolf Steiner college and is excited do this again with the Mountain Phoenix community. She fell in love with Waldorf education in Portland when her daughter, Skyla, began preschool in a Waldorf preschool. When they moved back to Denver in 2010, Leslie continued to enroll Skyla in Waldorf schools. Leslie loves to knit and do outdoor activities. She climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in 2006.
Rachel Ricco, Art
Photo and bio coming soon!
Lynn Pollitt, Games Teacher
From the moment Lynn came to MPCS as a substitute teacher, she knew she was home. Now as the new games teacher for grades 1-3 and home school, she feels that her nearly 50 year career of working with children and families has come full circle. She feels that the Waldorf philosophy and way of teaching is in alignment with everything she feels and believes about teaching. And that is marvelous!
She is certified in early childhood, has a Bachelor’s degree in English and sociology from Peru State College and is currently working on a Master’s degree in creative writing. She also completed training in games through the Movement for Childhood at the East Aurora Waldorf School in NY.
Lynn started her journey to MPCS in Wichita Ks, as a preschool teacher and along the way she worked as a camp director for Campfire Girls, and a religious education director.
When she moved to Nebraska, she served as the Youth and Family Director for the YMCA in Lincoln, NE and the outdoor education coordinator for YMCA Camp Kitaki and Lincoln Public Schools.
Taking a detour to the corporate world she worked in marketing and communications for a Fortune 500 company and then management development and training for First National Bank of Omaha.
She then traveled back to non-profit work as the Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts of Nebraska. Her final role before retirement was in service to children and families as the director of the domestic violence and sexual assault program for the YWCA of Omaha.
The mountains called and she had to go; retiring to Colorado three years ago. Retirement wasn’t for Lynn so she got her substitute license and with the encouragement of her friend, Mrs. Ince, she found her way to MPCS.
She has two grown children and three granddaughters. In her spare time she leads the music at her church in the mountains, likes to go jeeping, play with her dog Friskin, help in the family woodworking business and be a re-enactor for the Gilpin County Historical Society.
Susan Skokan, Kindergarten
Susan has been caring for children full time since 2007. She dove in to Waldorf methods the summer of 2011. During that school year she cared for teacher’s toddler children, as well as providing before care for grades students and private after care for ECE students. After two years successfully running her own licensed, mixed-age home preschool; she was thrilled to return to Mountain Phoenix in 2014. She was the ECE Float and ASE Assistant and is now entering a full-time position as Laura’s assistant.
She took her ECE courses through FRCC and is a photography major at Metro. Susan earned her LifeWays Early Childhood Certification in May of 2013 – a “Sister to Waldorf” program that focuses on birth to age 7. Since 2011 she has attended as many of the WECAN monthly continuing education classes that Nancy Blanning hosts as she is able (9 during the 2012-2013 school year) and is currently in the Foundations studies that MPCS is hosting. She has been blessed to observe classes at six other Waldorf schools in the area and is a voracious reader – hungry for more and more knowledge of child development and Waldorf pedagogy.
Susan adores getting to know all the children at MPCS. She has two adored sons who have attended Mountain Phoenix for all of their schooling (barring preschool for the oldest).She especially loves to paint, felt wool, sing, garden and lazure. She loves to practice eurythmy, yoga and swim. She is enjoyed volunteering in one of the 3rd grade handwork classes and working on becoming better friends with knitting and crochet. She is inspired by these rhythmic yet dynamic days.
Over the summer she was the afternoon Grades Lead Teacher at Denver Waldorf’s Summer Camp and is coming away from that experience with new knowledge and exhilarated to dive back into early childhood.
Every day, she strives to take each moment as it comes, see the chance for meeting the children with spiritual reverence and remembering that THERE IS TIME! Over time, she finds this more and more true, especially using slow, gentle movements to give a child warm nurturing moments in their day. “It’s so fun when they want me to sing a song again and again, because I know they’ve enjoyed it.” Susan loves to watch leaves fall with them, discover snow, stare at the sky or a ladybug, tell stories, and just look into light-filled eyes.
Karen Smith, Handwork
Karen came to Mountain Phoenix while in search of a school that was a good fit for her son Riley. She found that and more. She discovered a wonderful, loving community with a teaching philosophy that fit right in with her own pedagogy. Karen has more than 20 years of experience teaching art to children of all ages. Much of that time was working with students in non-profit organizations. Karen believes art helps students to become life-long lovers of learning.
Karen is a multimedia artist who periodically shows her art in the Denver metro area. As an artist, she is constantly learning new materials and styles for creating her art. Her undergraduate studies were in sculpture and modern dance. She graduated from SUNY Potsdam in New York State, and she spent a year studying at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston and a semester abroad in England. Karen recently completed her Masters of Arts in Arts Education at University of Northern Colorado. Her thesis explored what curriculum best creates questioning learners.
When she is not making art or sharing her love of art with others, Karen can be found spending time with her husband and two children. She also loves gardening and plans someday to learn to play the guitar.