Get to Know Us

Teachers and Board Members

Learn about the people that make this community great.

Meet The Team

Our highly trained staff come from diverse teaching backgrounds and have unique interests.

Amy Thomas

Amy Thomas

Head of School

Learn More about Ms. Amy

Amy has been a lifelong advocate for supporting and producing readers and is proud to be the Head of School for VSA. Amy earned her master’s degree from University of Colorado at Denver in Special Education, as well as an administrator’s license from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Her undergraduate degree was in English Education from Phillips University. She is a trainer of LETRS and Self-Regulated Strategy Development. In addition, she has also been trained in Orton Gillingham and many other structured literacy programs.

Amy has worked in education for 25 years in a variety of roles, starting her career teaching high school literacy to students with emotional disabilities. In addition to that role, she has worked as a learning specialist, 6th grade teacher, instructional coach, and most recently as a literacy consultant for the Colorado Department of Education. Learning about best practices and research within literacy and collaborating about it with fellow teachers is one of her favorite things to do. She believes that every child can become a reader and writer when high quality teachers use evidenced-based instruction. Promoting this concept is her top priority.

In her personal life, she has a husband of 24 years and two children, 19 and 22 years old–all of whom graduated from something last year: master’s, bachelor’s and high school. Her husband is a therapist, her oldest son works for the family’s business, and the youngest is dreaming of being the next great rock star as a drummer and attends UCD. She is very close to her extended family and lives only a mile away from where she grew up and her parents still live. You can find her most weekends hanging out with some part of her family playing games, reading, or skiing in the winter. She is beyond excited to be part of the VSA family!

Michelle Gasser

Michelle Gasser

Academic Director, Elementary and Middle School Instructor

Learn More about Ms. Michelle

Michelle has her Doctorate of Pharmacy and worked as a pharmacist for 17 years before transitioning to teaching in 2015.  She became passionate about dyslexia because of the struggles her two dyslexic children have had to face.   By watching her children grow with positive support and Orton-Gillingham instruction, she became inspired to help other children with dyslexia.  Michelle has taken numerous courses, including O-G Basic and Advanced, O-G Multisensory Math, Dyslexia Screening and Evaluations, and Language-Based Learning Disabilities: Strategies for Success through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, Orton-Gillingham International, the Dyslexia Training Institute, and the Landmark School Outreach Program.  She also has completed the Google Education Level 1 training course.  Michelle enjoys spending time with her family on the hiking trails and slopes and camping in their camper in her free time.

Garrett Grigsby

Garrett Grigsby

OG Math

Learn More about Mr. Garrett!
My name is Garrett Grigsby and I am proud to say that Vertical Skills Academy is where I teach. I have been teaching for 5 years and have known from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher and help people. Working with the wonderful students here at Vertical Skills Academy has been a privilege and something that I look forward to every day. I grew up in Evergreen and attended the Metropolitan State University of Denver where I received both a B.A. in History and a Colorado Teaching Licensure in Elementary Education. During my free time, I enjoy snowboarding, riding dirt bikes, traveling, and spending time with my family.
Jen Halsall

Jen Halsall

OG Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Jen!
Jen is a Colorado native, born in Steamboat Springs. She has taught many ages, from pre-school to adults and is a certified advanced level Therapeutic Horseback Riding instructor. She has a degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant and a Bachelors’s in Psychology from Wittenberg University in Ohio. She has had training in Beginning and Advanced Orton Gillingham and was a 1:1 tutor at Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexia in 2018. She is also advocating for all kids with dyslexia in Jeffco, working towards change at the district level for dyslexia awareness and training through JeffcoKID. Jen will be tutoring 1:1 at VSA, as a part-time tutor this year. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her husband and playing outdoors with her 2 kids and 2 dogs, Tigger and Gypsy.
Emily Kemp

Emily Kemp

Tutor, Reading & Writing

Learn More about Ms. Emily!

Emily is a longtime member of the Evergreen mountain community. She is a native Coloradan and continues to enjoy living the mountain life. Emily graduated from MetroState University with a Bachelors’s degree in Behavioral Science & Elementary Education. Her passion for helping children succeed led her into the education field where she found her niche in literacy intervention. She hopes to create a fun & exciting learning environment for her students so they can develop a life long love of learning. Emily, her husband, and their two daughters are excited to be apart of the VSA family. 

Christine Riedlin

Christine Riedlin

Assessment Coordinator, Middle School Instructor, Orton Gillingham Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Christine!

Christine Riedlin has spent over 22 years working in education. Her teaching experiences range in age from preschool to college. She holds a BS in Environmental Studies and BFA in Fine Arts from the University of Colorado, and a Master’s in Education from Regis University. While teaching students to learn to read, she became interested in Dyslexia and how to teach struggling readers. She worked as a tutor at Rocky Mountain Summer Camp for Dyslexia for five summers, which gave her a lot of experience and practice using Orton Gillingham methods. Christine has been an instructor at Vertical Skills Academy since its second year in 2015. Her passion for using data to guide instruction led her to become the Assessment Coordinator at VSA. Currently, she is teaching middle school science, upper-middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies. She also tutors dyslexic, dysgraphic, and dyscalculia students, as well as doing academic coaching for elementary and middle school students. 

 

She is strongly committed to the idea that ALL students can learn anything if it is taught in the way they need to learn. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling in her camper van, reading, and being outdoors.

Mindy Russell

Mindy Russell

OG Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Mindy!

My name is Mindy and I’m Dyslexic! My passion is driven by my personal struggles with dyslexia and the lack of support available for my difference in learning. I went into teaching to make a change in education. I don’t want any child that struggles with the same disability to go through life feeling like they are not smart simply because the public education system wasn’t set up to meet their needs. Sadly, in the four years that I was pursuing my Special Education degree, Dyslexia wasn’t even mentioned in the curriculum! Nor was there available training for a masters degree in Dyslexia Education at the time I was seeking it. Luckily, I was able to find Joyce Bilgrave, an Orton-Gillingham expert, was trained, and am able to make the difference in teaching that I wish I had when I was growing up. I am also a parent of a child with Dyslexia and have a full understanding of what parents struggle with when trying to get the services their child needs. I am a lifetime learner and enjoy learning from my children, my students, and members of my community. Someday, I would love to take my kids to Lake Powell on a houseboat. My dream vacation would be picking sea glass off of the shore on a beach in California.

Gretchen Signet

Gretchen Signet

OG Tutor

Learn More about Ms. Gretchen!

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with your children and be a part of the growth and academic development they will achieve this year. Through our lessons your child will be exposed to a variety of multi-sensory, creative and engaging OG learning opportunities to boost each child’s confidence and desire to learn.

I will tell you a little about my background. I have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a focus on Interpretation and Translation, and a minor in History from the University of Arizona. Following my credentialing program, I received my post baccalaureate degree in Education, Special Education, and English as a Second Language. My husband’s career brought us to Houston in 2013 and I continued my teaching career with Pre-K, 3rd grade and special education. In 2015, I wanted to expand my skills as an educator and earned my credential as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This is my 10th year in the classroom and I am pleased to say I have found my new home away from home at Vertical Skills Academy.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Christina Griggs

Christina Griggs

VSA Board President

Learn More about Christina

Christina has worked for many years in the financial services and banking industry. During these years, she developed a strong understanding of personal and business finance and learned about the operational needs of both large and small firms. Some of the industries that Christina has worked in include Environmental and Business Consulting, Property Management, Investment Banking, Corporate Housing, Real Estate Brokerage, commercial and residential construction, electrical engineering, personal investment planning, IT Services, Association Management, Government, Publishing and Digital Marketing. For these companies she instigated stronger operations, built a solid financial structure and improved customer relations.

Christina started Gemsbok Consulting, Inc. in 2001 to assist companies in building a solid foundation from which to grow. Through Christina’s years of experience, she learned that business owners are experts at their business product or service, but running a successful company was not always a strong point. As a result, Gemsbok Consulting, Inc. was founded to help owners with all the back-office processes of the organization. Some of these functions include bookkeeping with a CFO perspective, setting up operational processes, developing healthy human resource habits and strategic planning. In addition to running Gemsbok Consulting, Christina has served as the CFO for a successful Digital Marketing Agency in the Denver area for the past 11 years.

Christina was drawn to serve on the VSA board after seeing how much of an impact the school had on her own son’s educational experience and wanted to support the school in providing this experience for other kids. Since Christina has worked with many companies over the past 20 years in reaching their growth goals, she felt her financial background and leadership skills could support the school in reaching its goals. Christina is doing this through building forecasting tools for the school and helping the school move into the next phase of its business growth.

When not working or supporting VSA, Christina is an avid Crossfitter. She also loves to bake as well as travel with her family.

Lynn Peesel

Lynn Peesel

VSA Vice President

Learn More about Lynn

Lynn is passionate about education, especially helping children to discover their unique interests and talents. She has a background in Montessori education and has taught for over 20 years, primarily in first through third grade. Before getting her education credential, she received a Masters in International Development with a focus on education and literacy from American University. Lynn has taken the basic and advanced Orton-Gillingham training, as well as other literacy and writing training programs. During her teaching career she enjoyed working to meet the needs of each student and helping them to reach their potential. She is thrilled to be supporting VSA and bring her educational background to a school that strives to meet the needs of students with Dyslexia.

Lynn is from Colorado and lives in Evergreen with her family. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting, and exploring, especially with family, friends and dogs.

 

Becky Kalahiki

Becky Kalahiki

VSA Board Member, Treasurer

Learn More about Becky

Becky Kalahiki comes to the Vertical Skills Academy (VSA) family from the Cayman Islands. She is a proud mother of a dyslexic son and wife to a dyslexic husband. Becky and her husband searched the globe for the best middle school for their son and found VSA on-line. VSA’s mission and especially VSA’s primary goal of “…empowering students with skills to continue their academic growth and self-advocacy beyond their tenure at the academy” was a deciding factor to move to Evergreen, Colorado for their son’s schooling.

Although Becky grew up in Colorado, she has lived and worked on all 7 continents and volunteers her time in activities to assist people around the globe.

Along with volunteering on the VSA Board, she volunteers as a Mentor for female professionals in the Caribbean and is an active member of the Gender Equality Cayman initiative in the Cayman Islands. She currently is a Senior Advisor, Growth Strategy & Transformation for a USA headquartered global company.  She has extensive experience working in over 100 countries with a variety of talented and skilled employees. She loves to travel internationally which provides her an opportunity to interact with new people & cultures.

Angie Wulff

Angie Wulff

VSA Board Member and Secretary

Learn More about Angie

Angie Wulff has been teaching children and adults for over 20 years.  She has a Masters in Educational Psychology, a teaching license in K-12 Moderate Needs (students with learning differences), and an advanced degree in library science.  She is also a board certified Life Coach with a focus in ADHD (Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disability- especially executive functioning skills).  She was a teacher and librarian at Conifer High School, Bergen Valley Elementary and most recently at Jefferson County Open School (JCOS).  

Currently, in addition to being an Success Coach/Tutor, she enjoys substituting at VSA and JCOS. Her passion is helping students to become confident and successful in their academic lives.  

Chris Daniels

Chris Daniels

VSA Board Member

Learn More about Chris

Chris Daniels is a professional musician and an Assistant Professor in the field of Music Business, in the College of Arts & Media (CAM) at The University of Colorado Denver. Originally from Minnesota, he went to school in Colorado and has a Master’s Degree in History and Economics from The University of Colorado. Chris feels fortunate to be a successful musician and an Assistant Professor. He has been with his band, Chris Daniels and the Kings, for 37 years. They have 19 albums and have toured Europe 21 times. Chris has one son and two wonderful granddaughters, one of whom has dyslexia.

Chris comes to the VSA board with experience in education, business and the music profession. He is dyslexic and appreciates what VSA has to offer in their educational approach for children with dyslexia.

Advisors

Kara Osberg

Kara Osberg

Founder and Advisor

Learn More about Ms. Kara

Kara is the co-founder and advisor of Vertical Skills Academy. She is an entrepreneurial collaborative problem-solver with a passion for supporting others as they parent or educate the dyslexic children in their lives. As a highly trained Orton-Gillingham interventionist and seasoned advocate with nearly twenty years of personal and professional experience with students, families, and academic programs, Kara also provides mentorship, academic coaching, and tutoring.

 

Get In Touch

Location: 32156 Castle Ct, Suite 201, Evergreen, CO 80439

Telephone: (303) 562-1900

Email: info@verticalskillsacademy.org

School Hours: M-F: 8:30am – 3:00pm