Get to Know UsTeachers 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.
Head of School
Learn More about Ms. Amy
Amy has worked in education for 28 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 26 years and two children, 21 and 24 years old. Her husband is a therapist, her oldest son works for a coding company, and the youngest works in the music industry working sounds and lights for live music. 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!
Teacher, Academic Director
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.
Teacher, OG Tutor
Learn More about Ms. Josie!
Ms. Josie is in her 5th year of teaching. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado. Prior to working at VSA, she worked in Early Childhood special education in Jefferson County public schools. As much as she loved teaching the youngest learners, she enjoys using her skills and focus on students with dyslexia. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, spending time with her family and traveling as much as she can! Ms. Josie grew up in Evergreen and is now residing in Lakewood. She is very excited to continue working with VSA families and staff!
Learn More about Ms. Lynn
Lynn Peesel 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.
Teacher, OG tutor
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 Metro State 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 a part of the VSA family.
Learn More about Mr. Garrett
Garrett is an experienced and dedicated educator known for his passion for teaching and fostering a positive learning environment. Garrett graduated from the Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Post Baccalaureate in Elementary Education. With an expertise in elementary and middle school mathematics, Garrett has inspired and motivated countless students on their educational journey. Garrett consistently demonstrates his commitment to academic excellence and student success through his dynamic teaching style, innovative approaches, and personalized instruction. Garrett effectively collaborates with students, parents, and colleagues to create a supportive learning community, emphasizing character development and instilling positive values in his students.
Beyond the classroom, Garrett actively engages in professional development, is trained in mathematical education through Orton Gilligham and is dedicated to excellence in education by making a lasting, positive impact on the lives of his students and the broader educational community.
Teacher, OG Tutor
Learn More about Ms. Aubrey
Aubrey is a longtime resident of Indian Hills, and a lifetime resident of Colorado. She taught 3rd grade in Denver for 7 years, before discovering Orton-Gillingham through Rocky Mountain Dyslexia Camp in 2016. Since then she has been taking every opportunity to further her education using this method, and has been exclusively tutoring using OG methods since 2020. She is currently working on her practicum to get certified in Y-OG. She is a lifelong learner passionate about helping kids succeed!
She lives with her husband, her five-year-old son Arlo, cat Penny, and dog Daisy. When she is not reading or teaching, you can find her embroidering anything she can get her hands on, soap making, sewing, or maybe hugging a tree or two! She is very excited to join the Vertical Skills Academy family!
Learn More about Ms. Colleen
Ms. Colleen grew up in Michigan and earned a Bachelor’s degree in textiles with a minor in advertising from Central Michigan University. When she was 25, she moved to Colorado and never looked back! She worked for many years in the corporate world. It wasn’t until she was married and had children of her own that she realized her passion for working with kids. Having one son with ADHD and one son with Autism, sparked her passion for working with children who learn differently. This very personal story began her journey. Becoming a staunch advocate for both of her children’s own education, she learned the value of persistence and perseverance. She also learned first-hand to never put a ceiling on what a child can accomplish or learn.
Through years of working with many special education interventionists, she developed a love and respect for behavior therapy. For 3+ years she worked under the supervision of her youngest son’s BCBA, diligently implementing all the strategies she was taught. In an effort to utilize her skills to help other children with Autism, she achieved her RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) certification and has had the opportunity to work with and learn from many great kids! Her thirst for knowledge, love for reading and helping children access reading, led her to pursue Orton Gillingham (OG). She looking forward to continuing her learning and education in this method of
teaching. Additionally, she has volunteered with Every Child Reading whose dedicated camp helps children with dyslexia access tutoring during the summer.
Ms. Colleen is passionate about helping children. She believes that they are capable of amazing things, and that they can achieve just about anything if given an opportunity to learn, are shown patience and have someone who believes in them. She currently lives in Evergreen with her family. In her free time, she loves to run, mountain bike, garden and just be outside enjoying all the beauty that Colorado has to offer through of all of the seasons. She is excited and honored to become a part of the VSA family!
Learn More about Ms. Gretchen!
Ms. Gretchen is 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 her 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.
Ms. Gretchen has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a focus on Interpretation and Translation, and a minor in History from the University of Arizona. Following her credentialing program, she received her post baccalaureate degree in Education, Special Education, and English as a Second Language. Her husband’s career brought them to Houston in 2013 and she continued her teaching career with Pre-K, 3rd grade and special education. In 2015, she wanted to expand her skills as an educator and earned her credential as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This is her 11th year in the classroom and she is pleased to say she has found her new home away from home at Vertical Skills Academy.
Meet Our Board of Directors
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.
VSA Board Vice President
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.
VSA Board Member , Secretary
Learn more about Mandy
Mandy Harris, CALP, M.Ed.
Mandy believes in the power of family and educator partnerships. She was a classroom teacher for 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades before transitioning to a literacy interventionist for grades K-5. As an educator, she focused on systems improvements and strengthening support for all learners. She is a certified academic language practitioner trained in Texas Scottish Rite’s Take Flight dyslexia program and various other programs based in Orton-Gillingham. She currently works as a literacy consultant and is a 4H program volunteer at her local chapter.
Prior to her career in education, she worked in the mental health field as a counselor for at-risk teens and was a licensed social worker. Mandy strives to be both a resource and a support person for teachers and families. She was drawn to serving on the board because of VSA’s dedication in cultivating an engaging, challenging, and rewarding learning environment that honors the individual. She loves everything Colorado has to offer and enjoys spending time with her husband, two teenagers, extended family, and, of course, her 100-pound dog, Sooner.
VSA Board Treasurer
Learn More about Jeanne
VSA Board Member
Learn More about Marnie
Marnie comes to Vertical Skills Academy as a former parent of a student with
dyslexia. Her family is originally from New York and after struggling for several
years to reach a diagnosis for her daughter, the family moved across country in
order to get the much needed support of a small school structure, the 1:1 tutoring
and the safe learning environment that VSA provided.
Marnie is a Director of Market Research for a personal care company based in NJ
& Texas. She holds a unique position that allows her to be the eyes and ears of the
consumer as her company makes decisions on new product innovations and
advertising campaigns, while also helping her teams understand the ‘why’ behind
decisions that people make on their product choices on a day-to-day basis. Marnie
loves to learn and teach the psychology that underlies the factors of these
seemingly easy choices.
Marnie joined the board to bring her marketing expertise, with a focus on
strategy, branding and research. She is excited to work with the team on
understanding student and parent choices when it comes to schools and helping
the school reach more families. Mostly, Marnie wants to help other families avoid
the same struggles that her family went through to land at VSA and get their
children the education they need and deserve.
In her spare time, Marnie enjoys time with her husband and two daughters, trail
running and walking the hills of Evergreen.
VSA Board Member
Learn More about Brian
Dr. Brian Wolff is the owner and founder of Wolff Child Psychology and its Director of Psychological and Behavioral Services. He established Wolff Child Psychology in 2011 with the goals of providing families with evidence-based, individualized psychotherapy services and with comprehensive neuropsychological and psychoeducational evaluations that provide true insight into each child’s patterns of neurodevelopmental functioning.
Dr. Wolff has a long history with VSA, including providing consultation to the founders when the school first opened. He has always appreciated VSA’s vision of providing targeted support for children with Dyslexia, especially when it can be so difficult for children to receive adequate intervention and care elsewhere. He appreciates the opportunity to continue to support VSA in the ongoing refinement of its vision over time as well as the development of new initiatives to expand the school’s positive impact on the children and communities it serves.
Dr. Wolff received a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Yale University, his M.A. and Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver, and his post-doctoral training as a Research Fellow at JFK Partners at the University of Colorado Denver and as a Lecturer at the University of Denver.
Founder and Advisor
Learn More about Ms. Kara
Get In Touch
Location: 32156 Castle Ct, Suite 201, Evergreen, CO 80439
Telephone: (303) 562-1900
School Hours: M-F: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm