D49 Public Charter School | Located in Forest Meadows

Character Development is a priority at GPA

7036 Cowpoke Rd

Colorado Springs, CO 80908

Fall 2021 Hours

Mon - Fri 8am - 12pm

Summer Hours

Mon - Fri 8am - 12pm


Grand Peak Academy Classrooms


This District 49 public charter school uses the Core Knowledge scope and sequence, incorporating the Colorado State Standards within a Classical education model. We provide a strong character education program via Core Virtues and stress character development and responsibility. Grand Peak Academy values the partnership of parents and the community. Parent partnership and involvement is expected at the school from both staff and parents.


Click on the classrooms below to learn about the curriculum and program for each grade.




Enroll in Preschool at Grand Peak Academy


Grand Peak Academy Preschool is a full-time program where students attend Monday through Friday from 8:05 am – 3:05 pm.  We offer two preschool classes with 20 students each, and a 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Tuition is at a cost of $700 per month with a $100 registration fee. Upon enrollment, children should be three years old and fully potty trained.  We currently enroll off a priority waitlist. Due to the structure of our program and curriculum, four-year-old children are considered first for enrollment.  All preschool students wear uniforms to school and bring a sack lunch from home.

We encourage each student in our preschool program to explore and embrace their imagination and creativity. We provide opportunities for children to build self-confidence, become problem solvers, and develop an excitement for learning.

Our curriculum meets the Colorado State Standards with objectives and standards posted in the classrooms.  Please see our Preschool Curriculum to see what your child will learn – Preschool Curriculum

Seats fill quickly so please complete our online enrollment to get on the waitlist.

If you would like more information regarding our preschool program, please contact our Preschool Director, Michele Lucero, at michele.lucero@grandpeakacademy.org or 719-424-8519.


Nakiesha Coleman-Colby

HELLO! My name is Nakiesha Coleman-Colby and I’m the pre-school teacher here at Grand Peak.  I was born in Dayton, Ohio but I have lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado for 25 years.  I graduated from High School in 1995.  I have been in the Early Childhood field for over 20 years.  I started in the child care field as a teachers’ aide working with three to four year olds then worked my way up to a school-age teacher.  After a few years I realized that I missed working with younger children so I became a pre-k teacher (again).  I am currently enrolled at Pikes Peak Community College taking classes in Early Childhood Education for my Director’s Certificate.  I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to work with children and be a part of the Grand Peak Academy family.

I’m married and we have a son who graduated from High School in 2017.  I’m a big sports fan for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, and the Colorado Avalanche.  In the spare time I enjoy going to the movies, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Michele Lucero

Hello! I am Michele Lucero the Director and Teacher in the Preschool program here at Grand Peak. I have been in the Early Childhood Education field for 29 years. I started as a licensed in-home provider then moved on to child care centers as a teacher working with all ages groups of children. After 17 years of teaching and more education I became a Director of large child care centers. I held this position for over 8 years then realized I missed being with the children. That led me to my position here at Grand Peak. I am extremely happy to be back with the children and part of the GPA team.

I am originally from California but I have been living on Colorado Springs since 1996. I have two grown children, a son and daughter in law and four grandchildren who all live in Colorado. Family time is my favorite time!

Working with children is a new adventure each day and I wouldn’t wan it any other way!

Kindergarten - 5th (Elementary School)



Grand Peak Academy offers tuition-free full-day programs.


Children enrolling in our full-day kindergarten program must be five (5) years old by September 15th.


If you would like to get on our waiting list, please go to Enrollment and fill out the requested information.


Kindergarten Teachers

Wendy Lowenberg

Hi! I am Wendy Lowenberg and I am excited to be at GPA this year. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a Masters’s in Science. This will be my 18th year teaching. I have taught primary grades for 16 years and love Kindergarten! This is the year that students make the most growth out of any grade. I love working with parents and creating fun activities for our small group time. I also love to take pictures! You will see snapshots of our day in Class Tag.

I am originally from Pennsylvania and have lived in Colorado Springs for the last 22 years. I have a sweet husband and two middle school-aged boys that keep me busy.

Lisa Rigby

Hello! I am Lisa Rigby, and I am excited to be teaching Kindergarten at Grand Peak Academy.  I have been an Army Wife for over 20 years, and have 3 children.  I am originally from Texas, but we haven’t been stationed anywhere close to Texas in the last 20 years.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin.  I later attended The University of Oklahoma, where I received a Masters of Arts in Human Relations.

I have worked with children my whole life, but it took a pandemic for me to realize how much I missed the classroom and building relationships with the students and their families.  I have been a Mothers’ of Preschoolers (MOPS) coordinator, have coached youth sports for years, volunteered in schools and classrooms in every capacity possible.  I have also worked as a substitute teacher and a school secretary.
I spend most of my time chasing my boys playing soccer and my daughter playing softball.  In my spare time, I love spending time with my husband and kids, visiting our extended families back in Texas, traveling, and doing anything outdoors.
I am so excited to be here at Grand Peak and look forward to meeting you.

Audra Tilden

My name is Audra Tilden and I am thrilled to be teaching Kindergarten at Grand Peak Academy. I have three children that have all attended Grand Peak (formerly Imagine Classical Academy) from Kindergarten to the present.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Art Therapy from Buffalo State College and a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University. I am passionate about helping children to succeed. I have worked with children in many different capacities including foster care counselor, child life specialist, reading interventionist, teacher’s aide and mom.

In my spare time I can be found antique shopping, sewing new creations and spending time with my husband and three kiddos.

First grade brings science to life with our animal habitats diorama for science fair, we go to the zoo, and we will be writing our own classroom books.  In first grade we study the human body focusing on circulatory and digestive system. We go to the Space Foundation and have the Colorado Springs Astronomical society comes to us with a Planetarium. First grade loves US history with the 13 colonies, leading into the Revolutionary War and ending with Westward Expansion. We have a fun day of food, crafts, and games after learning about ancient History with the Aztec, Incas, and Mayans.  Literature is enjoyed as we go over fairy tales and Fables.

1st Grade Teachers

Christina Young

Hi! My name is Christina Young, and I am honored to be teaching first grade at Grand Peak Academy. I am a blessed mom of  two amazing boys who attend this school as well. They keep me busy and always laughing! I come from a dual military family and have lived many places. I graduated high school in Oklahoma, and college from the University of Texas at Dallas. I go back to visit family and friends as often as I can.

When I’m not with my family or friends, I love reading and spending time outdoors hiking. Teaching is my passion, and I’m very excited to be apart of this amazing team at GPA!

Moriah Stroh

Hello my name is Moriah Stroh. I have been with this team since spring of 2016. My passion is to teach young people to love all aspects of school.

I have always enjoyed helping others succeed starting with my years in 4-H teaching others how to show and care for their animals. My life strayed from teaching in order to get a BS in Accounting at DeVry but once I started my own family I realized what I was missing. I rejoined 4-H as a leader and absolutely loved helping kids succeed at the Fair. Once my own children were old enough to be in school I volunteered and taught lessons in a virtual school CO-OP where I taught 8 to 15 students once a week. This choice brought me to a full circle and helped me take the leap to go back to school to get a Masters in Elementary Education through Grand Canyon University.

I am excited to have this chance to partner with you in order to build your child’s future!

Sue Haslinger

I have taught first grade since 2013 after completing my student teaching at Imagine Classical Academy. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a professional organization. I love the classical education model and the great curriculum we teach. I really feel like my students are getting a strong education from what we are able to teach them.  Beyond that, teaching here is like being a part of great family of committed teachers and wonderful families who I have loved to get to know over the years.

I enjoy teaching first grade because of how much students soak in and learn at that age. First grade is such and important grade as it is the foundation of all students educational career.   I have a passion for teaching reading and want to help students who struggle with reading.
I have four grown children and two grandchildren.  I love spending time with family.  Two family members are my dogs, Sochi and Buddy, who come to school from time to time to visit with students. In my free time I like to hike, camp,  travel or have dinner with friends.  I love Colorado and all that it has to offer and feel very blessed to live here.

How do we fit in the world around us?

In 2nd grade students are immersed in studying topics about the world around them, from Geography of where they live to Ancient Asia, Ancient Greece and Back to the Americas. Students will use their background knowledge from 1st grade to expand on the History of the United States- War of 1812, Westward Expansion, The Civil War, Immigration and the great Civil Rights leaders of our time. Each unit has a special project associated with it, but none as great as our Immigration Experience Day! Students begin their day “on the boat” arriving at Ellis Island and end with becoming citizens at the Citizenship Ceremony.

Science in 2nd grade is all about encouraging students to ask questions, make observations and seek answers. Our units include Exploring Magnets, The Digestive and Excretory Systems in the Human Body, Simple Machines, Insects, and Life Cycles. Our Simple Machines unit also gives 2nd graders the opportunity to create their own projects for the Elementary Science Fair.

Come explore the world with us!


Major Field Trips

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (at school)

ACT Children’s Theatre

Picnic in the Park

Core Knowledge Experience days

Greek Day

Pioneer Day (with evening music concert)

Science Fair

Immigration Day

2nd Grade Teachers

Courtney Hall

Welcome! I am Courtney Hall and I am a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado. I graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School is 2007. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and my masters degree in Elementary Education from University of Phoenix. I have been in the field of education for many years and I am so thrilled to be a part of the Grand Peak Academy family.

I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to teach and grow with children each year. Other than teaching and education, I enjoy spending time outdoors with my husband and two pups! We enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, and traveling. I also enjoy crafts and spending time with family and friends.

Tina Stevens

I am very excited to be teaching 2nd Grade at Grand Peak Academy. The concept of team will be our theme this year. As a former volleyball coach, I believe strongly in an environment where teamwork is valued and encouraged paired with high expectations. Learning and bonding will take place, as a group of people work together, respect each other, and feel valued. I look forward to getting to know each of my students and helping them to discover how they are uniquely wired and how they can use their gifts to contribute to the whole.

As mentioned above, I coached club and high school volleyball for over 25 years. One of my most favorite memories of coaching was winning a silver medal in the Junior Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. My team came together during that tournament and accomplished something so incredible.  I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. My husband can fix anything, and my kiddos enjoy theater and dance. We also have two sweet cats that enjoy lounging on our laps.

In my free time, you will find me watching old movies, going for walks (and maybe a jog here and there), driving my kids around town for their various theater and dance classes, and organizing and cleaning my house. I love a clean house!

Michelle Wendt

Hi! My name is Michelle Wendt and I am so excited to teach second grade at Grand Peak Academy!
A little bit about me, I have a 10-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son who will be in fifth and third grade this school year. My husband and I met in college and we are celebrating our 12th year of marriage this March.
I am incredibly drawn to GPA’s educational philosophy and love the educational foundation GPA is continuing to instill. Teaching is where my heart finds its joy and I promise to continue making your child’s educational journey an amazing one! Please know I will encourage, comfort, and do my best to ensure your child’s 2nd-grade year is a positive one where your child looks forward to coming back and learning from me the next day.
I have been an interventionist, kindergarten, 2nd-grade, and 3rd grade; 2nd grade is BY FAR my favorite, and I can’t wait to share the excitement with you and your child!

What’s great in Third Grade?


Nothing is more fun and interesting than history and science!!

Third graders love learning about the conquests of the Ancient Romans and the adventures of the Vikings! Kids are amazed to learn how the Natives actually got to North America and they become passionate about what the Europeans did to the Natives while exploring the New World! The plight and success of the Colonists round out how and why we all got here!

Kids love science and in 3rd grade, we actually dissect cow eyeballs when learning about optics & the eye, as well as other parts of the human body! Kids enjoy when the zoo comes to us during Animal Classification, and Astronomy Day is the something they look forward to all year!

What ISN’T great about 3rd grade?!

3rd Grade Teachers

Emily Aiken

Hi everyone! I grew up in a Military family, so I am from all around, but I have lived in Colorado Springs for almost 17 years, so this is definitely home for me. I attended The Classical Academy in District 20 all the way until I graduated high school.

I am definitely a huge fan of charter schools, and I owe my amazing educational experience to their curriculum, and I hope I can provide an even better experience for your children. I graduated from UCCS with a Bachelor’s degree in their Inclusive Elementary Education program. I have been teaching since 2018 with this team and I have loved every minute. I have poured my heart and soul into this profession, and I am hoping to provide a good experience for every single one of my students throughout my career as an educator.

Other than teaching, I like to spend quality time with my family and friends, hike, read, drink a TON of coffee and clean my house. Thanks for taking a look at my bio, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me!

Kelsey Schuman

Hello! I am a native to Colorado Springs and even attended schools in District 49. I graduated from Sand Creek High School in 2008. Then, I attended the University of New Mexico (GO LOBOS!), where I graduated with my BS in Education. I have been teaching since 2014 .

I am so happy and excited to be here at Grand Peak Academy and look forward to getting to know all my students. Teaching is a true passion of mine and has been something I have wanted to do since I was young. I love to laugh and enjoy spending time with family and friends.  I have been married to my husband Cody since 2014 and I but known him since the 4th grade! We have two precious little babes, Saila and Wyatt and I can’t forget our spunky and sweet golden-doodle named Cooper.

Kelly Herman

Hello everyone!  I am not a native to Colorado (unfortunately), but I have lived here for the last 12 years, I married a wonderful native Coloradoan, and have given birth to three little natives. My husband says that I am an “honorary native,” but I grew up in a really, really small town in the gold rush country in northern California.  I majored in elementary education in college and received my teaching licenses in California and Colorado, but this is my first elementary school position, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I taught high school English in Monument for a few years, then I was a financial advisor for seven years at T. Rowe Price, and most recently I taught Pre-K.  In my spare time, I love to spend time with my husband, Nick, and my three kiddos Grace, Luke, and Avonlea.  I love reading, painting, drawing, and playing with my golden retriever.

Fourth Grade “ROCKS” for so many reasons!


Along with learning more in Language Arts, Mathematics, Poetry, and Reading, we get the chance to travel back in time in History! Fourth graders have so much fun learning about Ancient China, Ancient Africa, Europe in the Middle Ages, The American Revolution, The Constitution, Early Presidents, and Early Reformers! In Science, we get to research great inventors, learn and engage in basic Chemistry, discover Electricity, study the Circulatory and Respiratory systems, and learn all about ROCKS in Geology!

We go on amazing adventures with our class novels that include Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, Gulliver’s Travels, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, Pollyanna, and Treasure Island! We also get to create some extraordinary projects like Robinson Crusoe’s shelter, Gulliver’s Travels “Travel Poster”, and Pollyanna’s Glad (Board) Game! In addition, we go on some exciting field trips, in particular the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where we get to dissect a sheep’s lung! Last, but not least, there are days that we enjoy, learn, and celebrate, such as our Medieval Feast and our Wax Museum.

Fourth grade definitely ROCKS!

4th Grade Teachers

Lindsay Barone

I am really looking forward to an incredible year and am excited to get to know you all! I hope to inspire my students to love learning, to become excellent problem solvers and to treat those around them with kindness!

Lucy Nelson

My name is Lucy Nelson and I am one of the fourth grade teachers here at Grand Peak Academy. I am originally from South Carolina, but my husband retired from the Air Force to Colorado in 2008.  I have been in and out of the classroom most of my adult life- as a student, volunteer, substitute teacher, and classroom teacher. I am a certified teacher in the state of Colorado with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

I am married with three children and am a dog lover. Currently we have two dogs. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, sightseeing, hiking, and traveling. I also enjoy reading a good book, going to the movies, watching college football, eating out, and appreciating a good cup of coffee. I am very excited to have the opportunity to be teaching a group of amazing kids with an exceptional curriculum.

Stephanie Pontius

Hello!  Welcome to 4th Grade.  I’m honored and excited to embark on this year of learning with your student.  I’d like to share a bit about myself.  I have a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing from Michigan Technological University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from The University of Northern Colorado.  I’m the spouse of a retired Air Force officer and the mom of two teenage daughters.  During our 20 years in the Air Force, nine of them were spent in Colorado Springs.  I have also lived and worked in Michigan, Utah, Illinois, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.  In my free time, I enjoy hiking, cooking, baking, decorating, reading, and shopping with my girls.  I can’t wait to get to know your student and have a wonderful 4th Grade year.  Let’s get learning!

I have always been dedicated to education and consider myself a life-long learner. My aim to encourage students to find something they love and can spend the rest of the lives learning about.

5th Grade

Fifth grade at Grand Peak Academy is an exciting place to be. The students make the transition from elementary school to middle school during this year and we work hard to prepare them for the skills that they will need moving forward, such as organization, goal setting, and personal responsibility. 

The Core Knowledge curriculum is so much fun in fifth grade, we travel back in time to the Renaissance period in history and literature then move forward to the American Civil War which ends in our annual Civil War battle with water balloons or flour bombs.

In the fall we go up to Denver to Ameritowne where the students spend the day running a town using the skills that have been taught in the classroom.  They manage the shops, learn to budget and spend their money wisely all while having fun. In late winter we go to Peterson AFB to attend Starbase, which is 25 hours of STEM related lessons and activities. Throughout the five days that we attend the students are actively engaged with hands-on activities.

Each year the fifth grade teachers work to bring the real world into the lessons and help your student become an engaged learner.

5th Grade Teachers

Carolyn Costantino

Hello!  I am one of the 5th-grade teachers at Grand Peak Academy.  I was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in small-town Wyoming, I attended college at Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska, where I received my BS in Christian Education and my teaching certificate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. My husband, Joseph and I have been married 38 years and we have four grown children: Aaron, married to Meagan (a dental assistant) and studying to be a PA at Red Rocks Community College; Gabriel, a freelance videographer and flooring service; Sarah, a concierge administrative assistant at the Broadmoor, and Benjamin, who is in the Air Force.

I have been in the classroom in some form or another most of my adult life. One of my favorite teaching experiences was when I home-schooled my children for nine years. Since my move to Colorado Springs in 2004, I have taught eight years at The Classical Academy and six years at Imagine Classical Academy.   My favorite grades to teach have been 4th and 5th.

I have had several years of experience with Core Knowledge and with CKLA. I have a passion for teaching history and finding opportunities to make lessons come alive for students. In my spare time, I love to read, cross stitch, take long walks with my husband, bake, and hike in the mountains

Loretta Phares

My name is Lorretta Phares, and I am so excited to join this wonderful staff at Grand Peak Academy as the 5th-grade teacher. It has been my privilege to reside in two amazing states-California and Colorado. I grew up in Diamond Bar, California, and I graduated from UCLA and CSUF with my Multiple Subjects Teaching credential where I began my teaching career.

I have taught mostly 3rd-7th grade (public, private, charter, and homeschool) in Colorado and California, and I adore these sweet children. Gardening, decorating, hiking, biking, and spending time with my loving husband of 33 years- Jeff, my 3 adult children (and their spouses), and my 3 grandsons always bring me great joy. We have resided in Black Forest, CO for about 20 years. I look forward to encouraging and teaching your children of the joys in the mathematical world as we grow together as a class.

Mandee Walck

Hi everyone! My name is Mandee Walck. I have been a teacher for fourteen years. This is my second year at GPA. I am so excited to teach 5th Grade this year! I am originally from Kansas and moved to Colorado in 2019. I love it here and am so excited for the adventures this year holds for us.

6th - 8th (Middle School)

6th Grade


Sixth graders study a variety of world history and geography as well as American history and geography. The study of history is tied to the readings in literature—for example, while studying ancient Greece, students read The Iliad and The Odyssey. Students write persuasive pieces, learn proper research writing format and process, and produce a formal business letter.

Science and Math

Sixth graders study matter, energy, and heat, explore the heights and depths of the universe through the study of astronomy and the oceans, examine geology and plate tectonics, and develop an understanding of the atmosphere and ecology.

Sixth graders strengthen their skills in mathematics through the mastering of basic mathematical operations, and students build a foundation for later middle school and high school mathematics with pre-algebra and pre-geometry.


Field Trips

Ponderosa Camp

International Towne

Planetarium/Space Foundation


Special Events

Literature Dress-Up Day in October

Spirit Week before winter break in December

Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

Character Council

Jeans for Dreams

Reading, Writing, and Math buddies with younger grades

Pi Day on March 14th





Saxon Math


iScience Texts


7th Grade


Seventh graders study a variety of topics in history, including both World War I: “The Great War,” and World War II. The study of history is tied to the readings in literature—for example, while studying World War II, students read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Students write a variety of expository pieces including descriptive, persuasive, and compare/contrast, as well as continue learning proper research writing format and process.

Science and Math

Seventh graders continue learning about matter, energy, and ecology, begin exploring chemistry and cellular biology, and examine genetics and evolution.

Seventh graders strengthen their skills in mathematics through the mastering of basic mathematical operations, and students build a foundation for eighth grade and high school mathematics with pre-algebra and pre-geometry.


Field Trips

Ponderosa Camp

WWII Museum

Florissant Fossil Beds


Special Events

Literature Dress-Up Day in October

Spirit Week before winter break in December

Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

Character Council

Jeans for Dreams

Reading, Writing, and Math buddies with younger grades

Pi Day on March 14th





Saxon Math


iScience Texts


8th Grade


Eighth graders study a variety of topics in history, including The Cold War and The Vietnam War. Students also study civics and develop a basic understanding of the principles and structure of American democracy. The study of history is tied to the readings in literature—for example, while studying The Cold War, students read Animal Farm. Students write a variety of expository pieces including descriptive, persuasive, and compare/contrast, as well as continue practicing proper research writing format and process.

Science and Math

Eighth graders continue learning about matter and energy, explore classical and fluid physics, study sound waves, and examine electricity, magnetism, light, and electromagnetic radiation .

Eighth graders finish the year very well prepared for high school math. During eighth grade, student study algebra I: foundations; functions, relations, & equations; rational expressions; linear equations & functions & inequalities; systems of equations & inequalities; and quadratic equations & functions.


Field Trips

Ponderosa Camp

WWII Museum

Washington D.C. Trip (optional)



Special Events

Cumulative Engineering Projects

Literature Dress-Up Day in October

Spirit Week before winter break in December

Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

Character Council

Jeans for Dreams

Reading, Writing, and Math buddies with younger grades

Pi Day on March 14th





Saxon Math


iScience Texts


Andrea Capotrio

I love teaching math and believe that everyone should get to like math.    I have also taught English, Social Studies, and Science.    I have four kids.  I was born and raised on a farm in South Dakota, but have come to love the small town family feel of Colorado Springs.  For fun, I like board games and to play with yarn.

John Castro

My name is John Castro. I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. In 2012, I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Political Science. Moving to Colorado in 2016 was a solid decision on my part since I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I have over four years of experience in Education and hope to achieve more in the following years to come. That is why I am proud to be a part of the GPA team and look forward to a wonderful year with everyone.

Lacie Cortez

My name is Lacie Cortez and I am so excited to be a part of the team at Grand Peak Academy.  I began my teaching journey in 2019, after spending 13 years in the business world.  I currently hold a Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters of Education in Learning and Technology.  I also gained a lot of experience working with a company teaching students from China how to speak English.  I love teaching and helping facilitate learning for all students no matter what obstacles they face.  My husband, Reyes, and I have four beautiful children (CJ, Gio, Sophia, and Xander).  We enjoy playing board games, card games, exploring new locations, music, and archery.  I am also a big hockey fan and love attending live hockey games, when I have the chance!  I am originally from South Texas, but we are loving making Colorado our home!

Courtney Neher

I started my teaching career in 2007 after graduating from the teacher education program at UCCS. Prior to coming to Grand Peak Academy in 2015, I taught 9th-12th grade literature and composition at Falcon High School and online with K12. My husband and I have five girls, and we enjoy playing video games, watching movies, camping and ATVing, swimming, biking, and playing racquetball in our spare time.

Dr. Karin Papadakis

Greetings! I am Dr. Karin Pappadakis aka “Dr. P” and I am excited to be teaching 7th and 8th grade English at Grand Peak Academy. English has always been my first love and in my career, I have worked as a reporter, poet, journalism, and graphic design instructor, and I have taught communications and debate.  You will find me in my spare time, curled up with a book. 

This is my 21st year teaching and I am the third generation of teachers in my family. This is also my 21st year in Colorado Springs. What is not to love about Pikes Peak and the amazing recreational opportunities here? 

I grew up in a large family and we lived in many towns in Montana. We moved to Eastern Oregon when I was starting school and I lived in a beautiful mountainous community similar to Colorado Springs. My family consists of my son, who is serving in the U.S. Space Force, and I am blessed with three grandchildren, 9, 11, and 16 years old. My family loves to hike, bike, play board games and work on puzzles, and we also love our three dogs. I train dogs for professional competitions and my husband and I love to work with them and just hang out together. 

This year we will be exploring literature: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, and speeches which will primarily be aligned with the social studies curriculum to provide a connection and supplemental understanding. We will also be strengthening the foundation in writing: grammar, usage, mechanics, with some new skills and some review. We will write and practice, practice, have fun, and practice some more.  I do strive to make my class fun and engaging. I love working with students and seeing them grow academically. 

Please email or call me with any questions or just to say hello!

I am honored to be working with your students this year and I consider it a privilege to be one part of their Grand Peak Academy education. 

Karin Pappadakis, Ph.D.

Daniel Newell

My name is Daniel Newell, and I am excited to be joining Grand Peak Academy this year.       I grew up in rural Iowa and in Illinois.  I graduated from the University of Iowa and have been teaching ever since.  I have taught for 16 years in the Colorado Springs area and love my job.

My teaching experience ranges from second through fifth grade and two years as a building math interventionist.   I enjoy teaching all subjects and love to break down concepts into manageable chunks to aid long-term memory acquisition for students.  Empowering students to understand how learning happens is important to creating a classroom culture geared towards learning.

I live in Colorado Springs with my wife, daughter, and my mom.  We have a dog, cat, and two bunnies. When I have time, I enjoy reading, music, comic book movies, and simple home repair/projects.

Working as a team, I know we can make this an outstanding year.

Kristin Newell

My name is Kristin Newell. I am so excited and honored to teach middle school at Grand Peak Academy! I was born in Elgin, Illinois, but moved to Carbondale, Colorado in 1980, where I went to elementary, middle, and high school. In 1992, I moved to Colorado Springs.

I am a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, where I earned both my Bachelors’s Degree in Sociology and my Master’s Degree in Reading.

I have over 20 years of teaching experience. I have taught Title 1 Reading & Math (K-5), and 1st – 8th grades. I have also been a Literacy Resource Teacher and an Instructional Coach.

I have one son, Keegan, who is 16 and going into 11th grade. We have 2 cats (Belle and Luna – Luna is pictured with me to the left), a gerbil (Oreo), and a garter snake (Josephine). We love to go to movies, read, swim, golf, play basketball, and partake in outdoor adventures. We have season tickets to Air Force Men’s Basketball too:) Go Falcons!

I love to learn new things, and I love teaching my students to be lifelong learners as well.

Enrichment (K - 8)

Emily Still

Bio Coming Soon

Tatiana Balbuena

Bio Coming Soon

Connor Thomas

My name is Connor Thomas and I am a Colorado Native, I grew up right here in Colorado Springs and am a graduate of Sand Creek High School. It is a dream come true to be teaching in the very same district that I graduated from. I have a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Colorado State University – Pueblo.

I have experience performing and teaching almost every area of music. I have taught band, orchestra, and guitar as well as private lessons on many instruments. I have experience performing on every band and orchestra instrument as well as guitar and choir. I am currently playing in a Jazz Combo based out of Pueblo, I have also played with the Pueblo Symphony and many other performing groups based out of Colorado Springs and Pueblo. I could not be happier or more excited to be here at Grand Peak Academy!

Robert Mery

My name is Robert Mery.  I am the Grand Peak Academy P.E. teacher.  I have a Bachelor’s of Art in History from UCCS with an emphasis in elementary education.  I have a US Soccer Youth Coaching E License and I coach basketball for SOCO Basketball Club.  My mother and grandmother inspired me to become a teacher with their love of teaching.  I enjoy sports and collecting sports cards, memorabilia, and coins in my free time.  I am looking forward to having an incredible year!!!

Mandie Cornelius

I am passionate about technology and the difference it can make in our 21st-century lives. My goal is to show that technology is a tool that can make a difference and be fun to explore!  My aim is to help students be savvy, effective problem-solving explorers, willing to take chances, learn from experiences, and be creative in solutions. In addition, teach good teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills in authentic situations that students can work through, and be proud of the experiences they gain in a fun, safe environment.

A little about me, I grew up in small town in Georgia, where I graduated High School. Then, joined the Air Force and spent 20 years as a Cyber Operations Craftsman (networking and computers) performing a range and variety computing jobs (specializing in training and help desk operations) in Alaska, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado, with deployments in support of active operations in United Arab of Emirates and Baghdad, Iraq.

I have attended the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) obtaining an Associates of Applied Science in Information Systems. Later, from Strayer University a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Systems and currently working on my Masters in Education in Instructional Technology at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

My family is made up of a great husband and three great girls. I love to play Guild Wars 2, read eBooks, fiddle with my guitar, horse volunteer, and play games with my daughters.

Technology is everywhere and I look forward to exploring the possibilities of discoveries with our explorers.

Counseling | Reading Intervention | Special Education

Lisa Gilmore

Hello! I’m Lisa Gilmore and am excited to serve as Grand Peak Academy’s School Counselor. I have loved working at this school over the years since I began in 2015 as a third grade paraprofessional. I then transitioned to the Special Education team while pursuing a Master’s degree in School Counseling.  For the 2019-2020 school year, I became GPA’s School Counseling Intern and was then hired as their full-time School Counselor in January of 2020. I’m thrilled to be your school counselor at GPA!

Although I am not a Colorado native, I’m happy to call Colorado Springs my home. I grew up in Oklahoma and then moved to the Springs in 2006 to live closer to family. In Oklahoma, I worked as a Career Counselor at the University of Central Oklahoma for 9 years. I loved working with college students but once my son started preschool, I soon figured out that I wanted to work with elementary and middle school students. It has been a blessing to work at the same school that my son attends as well. My mom lives in Woodland Park and we love to go on hikes up in the mountains with her. Additional family members are our three cats, George, Gracie and Miss Lulu.

Another passion of mine is volunteering for a non-profit group called Above the Rest (ATR). My son and I have been involved with this youth mentoring and leadership program for over 2 years.

Abby Blouin

I am thrilled to be the Reading Interventionist this year at Grand Peak Academy! Back in 1998, I earned my B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota, Morris. After school, I ventured to southern California where I taught for a few years and I met and married my wonderful husband in 2001. Soon after, we moved to Colorado Springs and I taught a couple more years right here in D49.  I left teaching to raise our son, who was born in 2004, and his sister who followed in 2007.

Both of our children have really enjoyed their Core Knowledge experience here at our terrific school. My kids were having so much fun at school that I decided to join the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and was the President from 2013-2017. That collaborative experience really helped me understand our incredible school community. Beginning in 2017, I enjoyed being a kindergarten paraprofessional here and it was a great step toward going back to the classroom to teach full time.

When I’m not teaching, you’ll find me studying our family genealogy, photographing my kids in their various scouting activities, and taking an occasional tap dance class. I feel blessed that we live in this beautiful city of Colorado Springs with all that it has to offer us. What a privilege and an honor it is to be teaching again!

Viola Lee

I love cooking, reading, camping, the beach, and teaching second grade, especially simple machines and immigration.  I grew up as an Army brat and came to Colorado for college.  I graduated from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a degree in Mathematics.  When I married my wonderful husband we decided to raise our family in this beautiful state.  We are the proud parents of three beautiful girls who have all attended GPA.

Skip to content