Looking for faculty or staff emails?

Currently enrolled families, please use the Message feature in ParentSquare to contact faculty and staff. Here is a quick step-by-step guide.. Please note: if you are using the app on your phone, you will need to hit Search after entering the person's name (or first three letters) into the Recipients box.

All others, please use the Contact Us page or email connect@mountainsage.org.

To contact School Director Liv Helmericks, please email schooldirector@mountainsage.org.

Grades Teachers and Assistants

Rachel Ladasky Nielsen, Kindergarten

Rachel has a lifelong love for Waldorf education which began when she attended a Waldorf preschool as a toddler. Since earning her MEd in Waldorf Early Childhood Education, Rachel has been a Waldorf early childhood teacher in the Front Range for over 12 years, which brings her great joy. In her free time Rachel enjoys knitting, needle felting, working on a giant fairy tree in her front yard, and spending time with her husband and five cats.

Erin Christine Ockenfels, Kindergarten Assistant

Erin Christine joins the MSCS team with a lifelong love and admiration of children. She comes with 10+ years of teaching experience in elementary public school, with a special affection for littles in preschool and kindergarten. It is her mission in life to create a safe, welcoming space for all children to express themselves fully and flourish in their gifts. In her spare time, Erin can be found writing books, swinging in the park, meditating with bees, and laughing as much as possible.

Jessica Wolfe, Grade 1

Jessica was born and raised right here in beautiful Fort Collins. She has taught grades K-4 for the past 16 years and believes strongly in the magic of music, movement and art in learning and feels incredibly blessed to be a part of Mountain Sage. During her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, playing the piano and ukulele, photography and being out in nature with her husband and two children.

Annie Addington, Grade 2

Annie grew up in Eagle, Colorado, and has taught students from pre-k through 12th grade. She feels deep gratitude to be journeying through the grades alongside her class. Annie loves running, and her two sons and husband enjoy skiing, hiking, tennis and family basketball games in their free time.

Briton Glaser, Grade 2

I first taught secondary language arts, drama, and world mythology for 13 years, taking breaks during the first years of my two children's lives. Afterward, I spent the next 8 years in early childhood education, focusing on pre-literacy skills and gaining extensive training in ADHD and the autism spectrum. I have a BA in literature and sociology and a Masters Level Certificate in Instruction and Curriculum. I was the in house substitute last year at MSCS and am thrilled to be taking your children through their elementary school journey!

Kaye Hokamp, Grade 3

Kaye is excited to step into the role of 3rd grade teacher after joining the staff during the 2022-23 school year as In-House Guest Teacher. Kaye is trained as an entomologist and has a life-long appreciation for the natural world. After working with butterflies for many years, Kaye decided to focus on teaching and has taught in classrooms from early childhood through college. In their free time, Kaye knits, sews, paints, plays clarinet and other instruments, and spends time with their large family and many animal friends.

Gail Spinden, Grade 4

Gail is a Colorado native with over 30 years teaching experience all here in Fort Collins, she was a Tongass National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger, and has been recognized in Who's Who Among American Teachers. Gail offers a caring classroom where students are empowered to assume responsibility for themselves and their learning. Her greatest joy as a teacher is to guide students so they will feel valued for their unique learning styles.

Ashley Atkinson, Grade 5

According to my mom, I have always known I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. My first jobs, camp counselor and ski instructor, solidified this for me as working with children (especially in nature) brought me immense joy. After earning a bachelor's in Child Psychology with a concentration in Special Education from Boston College, I began my teaching career at Denver North High School as a 9th Grade geography teacher through Americorps. I began to explore alternative approaches in education as an early childhood educator in a Reggio-Emilia inspired school. After learning about Mountain Sage and its Waldorf inspired curriculum, I made the move from Golden to Fort Collins to join this wonderful community. The growth and learning opportunities I’ve experienced so far have been immeasurable. I feel so fortunate to work alongside the incredible staff and provide learning experiences to the inquisitive young minds of MSCS.

Madi Wixson, Grade 5

As a Colorado native, I spent my childhood exploring the great outdoors of my backyard and the various wonders nature offered. I am a jack-of-all trades, loving everything to do with creating. I have written stories, painted elaborate pictures, and drawn and sung for as long as I can remember. The freedom and joy that comes from creativity still fuels my life, which is why I love teaching. I received my degree in Human Development and Family Studies and my master's in Education and have been teaching for 8 years.

Dan Van Horn, Grade 6

Mr. Van Horn holds Waldorf Teacher Certification from the Center for Anthroposophy through Antioch University of New England and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton. His teaching philosophy is rooted in the inherent wisdom of the children he teaches and sustained by his own curiosity and continued self development. When Dan isn't teaching he enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with his wife Carrie and dog Ella in their tiny home outside of Fort Collins.

Mikaela Axman, Grade 7

Mikaela grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in English, where she is grateful to have worked on their Student Farm, and for their Outdoor Adventures program, which led her to discover her love for teaching. Since graduation, she has spent time as a Middle School English Language Arts teacher in Philadelphia. She is so excited to have recently moved to Fort Collins and to join a Waldorf-inspired learning community. When not in the classroom, Mikaela loves to practice and teach Yoga, and spend time in nature with her partner and dog.

Jody Swigris-Winner, Grade 7

Jody has been involved with Mountain Sage since the beginning. After being on the founding board of directors for 3 years, she became the schools gardening and sustainability teacher and then the middle school math teacher. For the 2022-2023 school year, she is excited to step into the role of middle school grades teacher. Jody feels blessed that she, as well as her children Eli and Hannah, is at such an amazing school.

Jenna Martin, Grade 8

Jenna has a Master's degree in Elementary Education and is endorsed in Middle School Science. She has taught at both the elementary and middle school level. She is a kid at heart herself and loves hands-on, real world learning that is both problem and inquiry based. She looks forward to developing deeper relationships with her students and their families this year.

Maria Gullo Headshot

Maria Gullo, Forest School Lead

Maria has a BS in Elementary Education, experience as an elementary classroom teacher, substitute teacher in K-8, and a paraprofessional in Special Education. She enjoys creating art with found objects and encouraging others to create their own art. In addition, she is a Laughter Yoga instructor, runs laughter sessions with children and adults, plays her mandolin at nursing/rehab facilities, and has an interest in American Sign Language. She loves going on adventures with her little dog, Dobby, and volunteering at a local community garden helping to feed her goat and chicken friends.

April Clark, Forest School and Afternoon Kindergarten Assistant

April has a BS in Recreation Management with an Emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation. After her degree, she has worked as a paraprofessional, an art teacher, and is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. She loves painting and photographing wildflowers and spends much time outside searching for specimens. She also loves tasty foods, fall weather, hikes outside, and spending time with her husband and two puppies, Hana and Potato.

Special Subjects Teachers and Assistants

Laura Anderson, Handwork Lead and Practical Arts Teacher

Originally from the south suburbs of Chicago, Laura studied Art at Illinois State University before taking time off to travel and sell her handmade clothing. She started a knitting pattern design business in 2014, which allows people from all over the world to knit her designs. She enjoys gardening, knitting, playing/learning guitar, ukulele, and mandolin, concerts with her family and raising her four daughters.

Holly Bandong, Middle School Art and Librarian

Holly has an undergraduate degree in Art Education from Colorado State University and holds a Colorado teaching license. Holly is also a Holistic Health Practitioner and enjoys bringing creativity into her mindfulness practice. She recently earned her Yoga Teacher certification and serves the school community as the librarian.

Kirsten Bolton, Spanish Grades 4-8

Kirsten has worked as an educator in Colorado, Oaxaca, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador before becoming a founding teacher at Mountain Sage, where she strives to honor the complexity and uniqueness in each of her students. Her experience has come full circle as she now takes Mountain Sage middle school students on international trips to Spanish speaking countries. Kirsten has received Waldorf training at the Rudolph Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and El Centro de Desarollo Antroposófico in Morelos, Mexico. She enjoys photography, yoga, and exploring the Americas with her daughter.

Heidi Gilbert, Middle School Math

Originally from the Los Angeles area in California, Ms. Gilbert has been living in Fort Collins for five years and adores every day she spends here. She has a BS in mathematics from Colorado State University and 7+ years of experience tutoring K-12 mathematics. She regards mathematics as the language of the universe, teaching every lesson from this core belief. When Ms. Gilbert isn't teaching, she's often found singing, painting, walking her little dog Artemis, or storyboarding yet another Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Kelly Gronewold, In-House Guest Teacher

Kelly has an undergraduate degree in Biology, and a Master’s Degree in Education. In addition to Secondary Science and Elementary certifications, Kelly is also certified to teach K-12 Art. Kelly’s teaching experience consists of over ten years teaching a wide variety of classes, ranging from Kindergarten to High School. Since welcoming her own family, her teaching time has mostly been spent as a guest teacher, helping out regularly at Mountain Sage since 2015. She loves sharing her excitement of learning, art and nature with students. In her spare time she enjoys the company of her two children, her small hobby farm, making pottery, the fiber arts, camping, and spending time outside in her gardens.

Jilli Jackson, Gardening and Sustainability

Jilli has her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in community nutrition. She is passionate about sharing the joy of planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating real food to students of all ages. She believes the garden can make any subject come alive in a meaningful way!

Sara Kathol, Spanish Grades 1-3

Sara Kathol has been drawn to travel and outdoor adventure since childhood. She taught bilingual and ESL middle school classes for 7 years in 3 different schools around the world before taking this job at Mountain Sage. Maestra Kathol has a passion for language learning and multicultural education and is thrilled to grow as a teacher and person in this position.

Michael Ludolph, Games/Physical Education

Michael grew up in Northern Wisconsin, but has resided in Colorado for over five years. He received an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Northern Michigan University, and completed his Post Baccalaureate teaching degree at the University of Northern Colorado. He loves teaching and sharing his knowledge of physical education, while making a lasting impact on his students. He also shares a love and passion for music and coaching. In his spare time, Michael enjoys backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, and anything that involves travel and adventure! Michael is excited to be part of the Mountain Sage community where he can share his passion for movement with students.

Myles Roberts, Music

Myles Roberts started playing the flute at the age of 12, and has since won numerous National and International Competitions. He is an avid performer, and enjoys sharing all this knowledge through teaching. Myles is currently in the final phase of his Doctoral Degree at UNCO.

John Tomrdle, In-House Guest Teacher

John is in his sixth year as a teacher, spending most of that time as a K-8 Physical Education teacher. Coach Tomrdle coaches girls basketball and track & field. He received his undergraduate from Colorado State University in exercise science and his masters from Arizona State University in physical education. His students are his motivation. Helping them develop as scholars, athletes, teammates, and humans is what gets Coach Tomrdle up in the morning. When not teaching, John can be found skiing, cycling, playing basketball, and with his friends in their CrossFit gym.

 

Marna Widom, Handwork Assistant

Bio and photo coming soon!

Student Support

Izze Babb, Integrated Services Teacher

Izze got a degree in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. They moved to Colorado in August of 2021. They are a painter, gardener, and paddleboards as often as they can. Their teaching philosophy is all about helping students discover what makes them confident in their abilities.

Michelle Dollentas, Lead Paraprofessional

Throughout my life, I have always been very passionate about teaching children. I have taught in a variety of schools, after-school and summer programs, and in the community. My hobbies and interests include gardening, fossil hunting, traveling and card making.

Kelly Krieves, Pedagogical Mentor and Cross Country Coach

Ms. Krieves is honored to support fellow teachers and their students through mentorship. She is an experienced Class Teacher who guided the Class of 2022 from K-8th Grade at Mountain Sage. She holds Waldorf Teacher Certification from the Center for Anthroposophy through Antioch University and a B.A. in English Literature from OSU. Her teaching is grounded in the deep knowing that the children lead the way. Outside of the building, you can find her running, sewing, baking, participating in community singing, and deeply enjoying this season of motherhood with her toddler, Ezra Sage, and her husband, Kyle.

Kelli Love, Paraprofessional

Kelli grew up on the Western Slope of CO, and has settled in Fort Collins with her 5-year-old son. She is currently studying Apparel Design with a concentration in Sustainability, but aims to earn her teaching license, specializing in Waldorf Education. She is passionate about helping children discover their unique gifts through the current of curiosity, art, nature, and holistic life practices. She believes that as a teacher, you are also just a much a student – being in a reciprocal relationship of expansion and wonder. She has also studied (and continues to study) yoga, cyclical living, and herbalism. She enjoys reading, designing with natural fibers, gardening, photography, and spending time in Mother Nature with the people she loves.

Jennifer McKinley, Literacy Interventionist

Jennifer has been an educator for over 10 years and has spent more than 5 years in Waldorf-inspired education. She is enjoying learning more about the Waldorf life and supporting student education. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Teaching. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, listening to music, attending concerts, and spending time with her 3 children.

Lexi Moles, Social Worker

Lexi (she/they) was born in Colorado Springs, and raised in Northern Virginia for most of her life before moving to El Paso, Texas in 2017. They worked at a non-profit for about 4 years as the Middle School Coordinator for an after-school program. Lexi continues to work in outpatient therapy while working as the school social worker at Mountain Sage. Lexi is trained in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS) informed, and some elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In their free time, she loves to hike with her husky, cuddle with her cat, read endless amounts of books, and practice Spanish-speaking skills. They are a music fan and adventure lover.

Anna Murphy, Integrated Services Teacher

Anna is a Colorado native who has spent her life in the field of education. She started out as a sign language interpreter where she discovered her love of working with students with disabilities. At Mountain Sage, Anna has served as the Integrated Services teacher for many years. She loves spending time on the water with her husband, her four children, and three grandchildren.

Caitlin Nase, Integrated Services Paraprofessional

Caitlin Nase has been in Fort Collins for 16 years. Her eclectic career path has led her to the beautiful community, and school, that is Mountain Sage. Cait's hobbies are reading sci-fi/fantasy books, doing fiber crafts, and bowling. She loves exploring the outdoors while paddle boarding, hiking, or biking. Cait makes sure that she takes some time out of her day to ground herself, look up at the sky, and give thanks to mother nature.

Megan Nelson, Math Interventionist and 504 Coordinator

Megan is very excited to be a part of the MSCS community. This will be her 10th year teaching. She has a Master's in Special Education and also has her Educational Specialist Degree. She has lived in Colorado for 11 years and is outside any chance she gets. She has two young boys that also love the outdoors. When she is not teaching she is hiking, skiing, swimming, biking and much more. She also loves to travel.

Sara Thompson, Behavior Specialist

Mrs. Thompson has her B.A. in psychology and her M.A. in Special Education - Generalist.
She has a background working in special education and previously worked with students with significant social emotional disabilities for 17 years. She enjoys helping students learn to advocate for themselves, learn new skills, and find ways to connect with others. In her free time, Mrs. Thompson loves to garden, cook, camp, and spend time with her two sons, Walker and Torsten, her husband, Brian, and two cats, Gordon and Dyer. She enjoys fostering kittens during the summer as well.

Sarah Rettig, Paraprofessional

Bio and photo coming soon!

Facilities

Jeff Highter, Facilities Manager

Jeff Highter, I am excited to join the Mountain Sage Community. I am a Colorado transplant of over thirty years, originally from Albany, New York and an outdoor enthusiast , having spent last 29 years in Minturn Colorado. My wife, Becky, and I recently moved to the great city of Fort Collins to be nearer to our son, Ethan. When not fixing things, I enjoy biking, kayaking, hiking, martial arts, skiing, and walking our lab/mastiff dog, Ember.

Administration

Sarah Cooper, Front Office and Volunteer Coordinator

Sarah is thrilled to be a part of the team at Mountain Sage. She holds a BA in Ethnic Studies and has a long history of working with children and families in a customer service capacity. Sarah enjoys connecting people with resources and cultivating community. In her free time you can find Sarah hiking and gardening with her family, or reading a good book! She is passionate about social justice, sustainability, and children's literature. 

Theresa Hart, Health Technician

I am thrilled to be the new health technician here at Mountain Sage.  I have been in the medical world for over 20 years and I’m looking forward to a change that allows me to show my adoration towards children.  I do hold a BA in both psychology and administration of justice as well as a AS in nursing.   My husband, Gabe, and myself have two fabulous fur babies – Beatrice and Brother.  Beatrice is our rescue, and Brother is our VERY large chocolate lab.  They are the epitome of spoiled.  We live up by Horsetooth Reservoir in a log cabin with LOTS of yard work.  Outside of work we enjoy taking the pups camping and for “walkies”, reading a good book and spending time with family and friends.  I feel very blessed to be a part of this school community and family.

Liv Helmericks, School Director

Inspired to create a school that would nurture childhood through art, nature, and community, Liv served as Mountain Sage Community School’s Founding Director prior to the school’s opening in 2013, and School Director since. During the school's founding years, she collaboratively organized and led a cooperative homeschool pre-school group and homeschooled her children using Waldorf methods. Her belief in the power of Waldorf-inspired education stems from her background and education in the arts (fine arts, design, and dance). She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Colorado State University and has been dedicated to the path of sustainable living for many years. Liv has completed Waldorf training in Collaboration Leadership at the Sunbridge Institute in Chestnut Ridge, NY, and holds a certification in Waldorf Administration and Leadership from the Center for Anthroposophy. Maintaining a creative personal life and connection to the earth are some of her most deeply held values. She enjoys spending time in nature with her two teenage children. Liv is honored to serve the families and children of Mountain Sage.

Contact Director Helmericks: schooldirector@mountainsage.org

Hillary Mizia, Communications and Operations Specialist

Hillary joined the Mountain Sage community in 2012 as a founder, before the doors had even opened. In 2020 she left her longstanding role on the board to join the administrative staff, bringing with her decades of experience as a communicator, facilitator, and sustainability leader, and years of working with nonprofit organizations. Hillary holds an MA in Environment and Community, and a BA in Experiential Education. She and her husband are the proud parents of two MSCS graduates.

Amanda Reid, Administrative Coordinator

Amanda is a Colorado native born in Fort Collins, although she's lived all across the state. She's been working on her college education, part time, since my son was born. She has two dogs, three cats, and a 30-gallon fish tank. She loves animals so much I’ve been plant based since 2016! Amanda spends a lot of time doing things with her son like camping, soccer, swim lessons and more. With the little free time she has, she loves to paint, play ukulele, and especially tend to her flower and produce garden. Becoming part of a team that holds the same values as Amanda is an absolute dream come true.

Nancy Sexton, Registrar

Nancy is a trained and experienced Waldorf teacher. She helped found 2 independent Waldorf schools in NY state and Mountain Sage. She has been a Waldorf teacher or administrator since 1997. Nancy started the year in the classroom, teaching the amazing 5th grade curriculum, and has now returned to an administrative role. 

Jacob Tucker, School Food Coordinator and Afternoon Receptionist

Jacob was born and raised in Northern California and studied English at Humboldt State University. In 2021, he and his family moved to Fort Collins in large part so his children could attend Mountain Sage, to ensure they could continue their Waldorf inspired education. Jacob is an accomplished home cook who finds joy in making delicious food for family and friends. He is a collector of books, records, and nerdy collectables, as well as an avid puzzler, and board and video gamer. Jacob is excited to nourish both stomachs and relationships in his position as School Food Coordinator.

Bryan Kimbell, President

Bryan has participated on a number of advisory boards for startups and community organizations. Bryan has a B.A. in Communication from the University of Arizona, and an M.S. in Management from the University of Denver. He and his wife have twin boys currently attending Mountain Sage.

Troy Wixson, Secretary

Bio coming soon!

Mark Guttropf

Bio coming soon!

Paul Maloney

Bio coming soon!

Lica Mazzetto

Bio coming soon!

MacKenzie Mushel

In 2006, MacKenzie left Wisconsin and moved to Colorado. She has taught in K-12 schools for over 17 years and has a passion for teaching and learning. MacKenzie holds a B.S. in Physical Education, Adaptive Physical, and Health Teaching, as well as, a M.A. in Dance Pedagogy. She loves biking, hiking, camping, dancing, skiing, music, yoga and spending copious amounts of time outdoors. Currently, she is a work at home parent and homeschool teacher for her two young children; one is a first grader in the MSCS homeschool enrichment Forest School program. MacKenzie is eager to serve the MSCS community!

 

Jon Pointer

Bio coming soon!

 

Chris West

Chris is a transplant originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia and moved in 2006 to live in wonderful Colorado. He and his wife have two children who are thriving at Mountain Sage. Chris's passion is helping others connect and feel part of a community. He holds both a B.A. and M.A.T. in Health and Physical Education. He is a stay-at-home dad and feels fortunate to have the time to support the Mountain Sage Community.