Heather Stewart is a proud Denver native. She has been a teacher, Instructional Coach, Assistant Principal & Principal at both the middle and elementary school level. She has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Reading; M.A. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and she is currently working on her Ed.D from the University of Colorado at Denver. Heather has a 7 year old daughter named Sophia and a dog named Cindy Loo Who! She loves to travel, listen to music, read, and spend time with her family.
Hannah LeCount recently joined the Montview Team as the Assistant Principal. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade and also served as an IB Coordinator and an Instructional Coach in Englewood. She has her M.Ed. from Boston University and a B.A. in Economics & Spanish from Bucknell University. She most recently attended University of Denver for work in Educational Leadership. What has always inspired Hannah to teach and lead in education is supporting and growing students so that they can achieve whatever it is they put their mind to. Students surpassing their goals and going beyond what they thought possible is a magical moment that makes this work inspiring and fulfilling.
Front Office Support
Susan has been with APS for 15 years. Prior to working for APS, Susan worked for Qwest Communications as a Finance Manager for 23+ years. After being laid off from Qwest, Susan went to work at Tollgate Elementary. 15 years later she is still supporting staff and families and enjoys everyday.
Jenny was born in Los Alamitos California, moved to Colorado in 2001, and graduated from Smoky Hill High School in 2012. She has been at Montview for 4 years and enjoys helping staff, families and students. Outside of school, she loves spending time with her family and friends.
Danielle Cason and QiQi Sloan
Melissa Beach was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Connecticut. I moved to Colorado in middle school and have been here ever since. I attended and graduated from Aurora Public Schools. Go Central Trojans! I have been teaching for 20 plus years, most of the time in kindergarten. This is my 11th year at Montview. I am married and have 2 children, Kenna and Kade. I love to spend time with my family and am a busy soccer mom (never saw that one coming!). I love to hike, read, and run with my dog, Bear. On the weekends, I usually am cheering on my kids as they play school and club soccer. I love my job and think kindergarteners are the best!
Jasmine Cruz was born in California and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a first-generation student. She was the first to graduate from high school and college in her family. She recently graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in May with a Bachelor’s degree in Inclusive Elementary Education, and an endorsement in Culturally Linguistic Diverse Education. This is her first year at Montview and is very excited to start off the school year with her Kindergarten class. Jasmine enjoys spending time with family and friends, go on hikes, and bake desserts.
Christina Payan was born and raised in the Montbello neighborhood in Denver. This is her third-year teaching and her third year in Kindergarten. Before she was a licensed teacher, she was a preschool teaching assistant. After she graduated high school, she joined the U.S. Air Force (Colorado Air National Guard) while simultaneously pursuing a degree in social work. After she had her second daughter, her family decided she would stay home with her and her husband’s four daughters. They inspired her to become a teacher when she spent much of her time volunteering in their classrooms. She learned how much she loved watching students’ excitement and the joy in their eyes when they learn something new. She was motivated to pursue her Master’s in Education and did so in 2017. She has loved every moment of her journey thus far and cannot wait to experience the unforgettable moments of teaching this year!
Katie is a Colorado native and an Aurora Public Schools graduate. She was born and raised in Aurora. She went on to attend the University of Northern Colorado to study Elementary Education. She returned to Aurora Public Schools where she completed her student teaching in her own kindergarten classroom. Then she graduated in 2009 and began teaching preschool. In 2012 she was hired as a kindergarten teacher at Montview. She taught kindergarten for five years, and is in her fourth year of teaching first grade. She loves the students, families and staff here at Montview! Outside of teaching, she is a proud mommy and wife!
Dawn Medina has lived in Colorado her whole life and always wanted to be a teacher. She started playing ‘school’ when she was about seven years old and never stopped! She has been teaching for 31 years. After teaching at a private school for 20 years, she is excited to be starting her 11th year here at Montview. She loves to curl up in bed and read a good book as well as play with her three dogs. She has three children of her own and recently became a step grandparent to two fabulous children when her daughter got married this summer. Her children range in age from 20 to 26. She believes each child has their own unique gifts and talents and looks forward each day to bringing out the best in each child.
Carie Farneti grew up in Oregon and has lived in Colorado for more than 30 years. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from The University of Northern Colorado, then went on to earn her teaching license through Metro State College. Carie enjoys all things Colorado, traveling with her husband, and spending time with family and friends. She has been teaching in Aurora for 16 years and is excited to begin her first year at Montview. She loves working with children and enjoys helping them find their strengths and a love for learning.
Tiffany Vandre-Lothe is so excited to join the Montview community this year! She started her career in Minneapolis where she taught 1 st and 2 nd grade with Minneapolis Public Schools for 7 years. She finished her Master of Education in Elementary Education at the University of Minnesota in 2017. This is also where she got her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
in 2011 (go Gophers!). Tiffany, her husband, and their very spoiled Irish Terrier relocated to
Denver in 2019. She loves spending time with her friends and family, exploring beautiful
Colorado, cooking, seeing live music, camping, and traveling.
Robin Wiley has worked at Montview for her entire career. She started as a student teacher in 2004, and has taught Kindergarten, first grade and second grade over the years. She recently earned her Masters degree in Linguistically Diverse Education. She loves working with students and getting them excited about learning. Robin has two children of her own. They enjoy painting, dancing and being outdoors together. She also enjoys hanging out with her zoo of pets at home.
Tessa Bechtel is a new addition to the Montview team this year! She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University. She then moved to Houston, Texas to pursue a Masters degree in Elementary Education from the Relay Graduate School of Education. She taught for four years there including 1 year in Kindergarten, 2 years in first grade and 1 year in third grade. Last year she moved to Denver with her fiancé, Paul and their dog, Bagby and cat, Loki. This past school year she taught third grade math at a KIPP charter school in Denver. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and enjoying the wonderful weather that Denver has to offer. She even tried skiing for the first time ever this year and loves it! Tessa is so excited to join Montview and become a Mustang!
Karlee Nasalroad grew up in Grand Junction, CO and is a Colorado native. Previously, she has been teaching informally in different nature and science centers all over the state, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Northern Colorado in 2017. Shortly after, she started exploring her passions for teaching, learning and the outdoors. She is a new graduate of the University of Colorado Denver with her Master's degree in Teaching and elementary education endorsement. Karlee's favorite part about teaching is helping students explore their interests and opening doors for learning opportunities. She has two reptiles and has a passion for plants/gardening is unrivaled. Her favorite hobbies include traveling, drawing, and games of all types!
Hello, I am so happy to be working with you and your students this school year! I was born in New York and raised in Arizona. I grew up in the desert of Phoenix until I went off to attend Northern Arizona University where I received my Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. Being a teacher is something I have wanted to do since I was little so earning that degree was a dream come true. I stayed in the small mountain town to student teach in a multiage classroom as well as, taught 3rd grade on the Navajo reservation. A year ago, I moved here to Colorado where I fell in love with the climate and culture and found my passion teaching 4th grade! I love education seeing that I believe it opens up doors and possibilities for all students no matter where they are. I find joy in watching students grow and be excited for their learning! On the weekends, I love hiking, cooking, and spending time with my dog!
Julie Johnson grew up in Aurora, Colorado attending Cherry Creek Public Schools. She graduated from DePauw University in Indiana with a Bachelor of Music Education. Soon after college, she decided her real passion was teaching elementary general education and went on to earn her endorsement in elementary education from the University of Colorado at Denver. Recently, she earned a Master’s degree in teaching the culturally and linguistically diverse from Regis University. Julie has been teaching at Montview since 2007. She has loved forming relationships with students and their families over the years and is always thrilled when students come back to visit. In her free time, Julie loves to hike, fish, ski, bake cookies, and play the French horn.
Emily Kouba is from Wheaton, IL. She taught seven years in Chicago. She then moved to Colorado. She has taught 19 years at Montview. She has a 19 year old son who attended Montview as a student. She has a dog, Yanni. She loves to hike, read and spend time with her dog. She thinks fifth grade is the best grade to teach.
Saladin Thomas was born and raised in Los Angeles and moved to Denver in 2008. He holds a BA in Creative Writing and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education, both from the University of Colorado Denver (go, Lynx!) He previously worked in Denver Public Schools as a Denver Math Fellow, then as an Early Childhood Education paraprofessional; he credits that position for pushing him into a life of classroom teaching. He credits Colorado for introducing him to the most recent loves of his life: overly complex board games, drumming in a rock band (To Be Astronauts), and playing air guitar. He is nationally ranked in that last one, at least as of 2018. Outside of teaching, he...does all the stuff in that list plus improv. He has a girlfriend, no pets, and a humorous lack of self-awareness.
Eddie Portoghese has been teaching physical education at Montview for twenty years. He enjoys creating and trying out new physical activities for the students of Montview. He is creative and active in the film community in Denver. Eddie’s hobbies include hiking, skateboarding, hockey, music, reading, writing and fitness. He recently started a pop culture club at Montview. His wife is also a teacher. She teaches sixth grade science at North Middle school. They enjoy traveling together both in state and out of the country. Eddie grew up in New York and graduated from Cortland State University where he played second base for the Red Dragons baseball team. He is a Rockies fan and football fan.
Sarah Butler grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but moved to Colorado in 2014 to find better teaching opportunities and to fulfill her dream of living near the mountains. She has a Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University and just recently completed a Master of Music degree in Music Education (with a Kodály Emphasis). Her primary instruments are the flute and voice. She has been teaching elementary music for 8 years, and all but two have been at Montview. It has been an honor for her to be a part of this community and she looks forward to many more rewarding years here! When she’s not busy making music or teaching, Sarah enjoys doing outdoor activities with her husband, such as hiking and rock climbing, as well as reading, knitting, and doing puzzles.
Jan Leonhardt is from Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She has taught in Aurora Public Schools for 25 years as a special education teacher. Jan has taught at West Middle School, Fulton Elementary, Boston Elementary, Wheeling Elementary, Quest Academy, and currently Montview Math and Health Sciences. Jan loves her cats, Beau, Thomas and Riley. The best part of being a special education teacher is getting to work with some students for more than one year and seeing student growth.
Beth Faulkner is a native of Colorado, born and raised in Pueblo. I come from a family of teachers and actually never intended to be an educator. I always wanted to be a children’s book author. However, I discovered in order to write for children I would have to know about them and that led me into teaching. It has been 19 years and I’m still teaching and writing on the side. I have a dual licensure in Primary Education K-6 and Special Education K-12 with a Master’s in Special Education. I have taught in various schools but my heart belongs to the Aurora Public School System. I love the population, families and community. Here, I have taught in high school, middle, and elementary school. This is my second year at Montview. I work with grades K-3. In my personal life, I have been married for 19 years to my husband, Philip and have two daughters Annie, 14 and Claire, 12.
Laurie Boticke - I have enjoyed being a speech pathologist in APS for 21 years with about 7 years in an outside district ,and working in rehab centers. I received my Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology from California State University in 1992. Originally from Ohio, my husband and I met as teenagers and we have been happily married for 36 years. We have 2 daughters, Brittany and Nicole, and our grandson Julian. I enjoy spending time with my family, going to Julian’s soccer games, going up to the mountains, swimming at the rec center, and walking our fluffy white dog, Ziggy. I have truly enjoyed working with students of all ages here in APS and watching them grow.
Support Staff and Mental Health
Rachel grew up in southwest Virginia right in the heart of the Appalachian mountains where she fell in love with nature and the outdoors. She attended Virginia Tech where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and her Masters of Arts in Education in Curriculum & Instruction (Go Hokies!). Rachel taught English as a Second Language in Virginia before visiting Colorado on a road trip and immediately falling in love with the Rocky Mountains. Since moving to Colorado, she has worked as a classroom teacher, CLDE teacher leader, and teaching partner. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, and relaxing with her cat, Pocahontas. Rachel is thrilled to be joining the Montview community!
Suzanne Betts graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She also received a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. Suzanne began her career in Tennessee as a First Grade Teacher, and then moved to Colorado in 1999. She came to Montview 14 years ago, after teaching First Grade and Kindergarten in other Colorado schools. Suzanne continued teaching First Grade and Kindergarten at Montview until she accepted the position as Reading Interventionist. She loves helping students feel empowered when it comes to their reading! In her free time, Suzanne enjoys the outdoors with her wonderful dog and friends. She also loves relaxing with a good book!
Brenda Bowman was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. Her love for teaching began when she started teaching tap dance to her dolls in the backyard. She is on her 17th year of teaching and this is her 14th year as part of the Montview team. Montview students, families and staff make it feel like home. She has taught kindergarten, first, second and currently is the CLDE teacher leader. Brenda earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education, M.A. in Instruction and Curriculum in Literacy and an M.A. in Instruction and Curriculum in English as a Second Language. Brenda loves to travel, especially road trips! In her spare time, you can find her cheering on the Broncos, Rockies and Avalanche.
Hola, me llamo Flor Estela Rodriguez. It is an absolute honor to be part of the Montview Mustang Crew as the Math Teacher Leader & Site Coordinator for CU-Denver. This is certainly a wonderful place to be and grow with colleagues, students, and families. In my unique role, I have the opportunity of working with in-service teachers in the area of Math planning and instruction, while working with pre-service teachers (Teacher Candidates) as they prepare for future work in urban settings with diverse students. I come in with a background in business and education. After doing accounting and consult work for nearly a decade, I pursued my life-long dream of working with children and families. I have taught for 20 years with an equal amount of years in Denver Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District and most recently, here in APS! I am passionate about equity work which provides best learning opportunities for all students through culturally relevant education. In my personal life, I have been blessedly married for almost 30 years to my college sweetheart, Gabriel. We have three beautiful children, all of which are now grown. We are also blessed with three adorable grandchildren ages, 5 months, and 6 & 7 years old (the perfect & energetic little ones)!!! With much family and many friends, we enjoy staying social and active in Colorful Colorado!
Janie Weiner grew up in Denver but has traveled and worked abroad extensively during her adult life. Her love of teaching came at an early age when she “taught” school to her stuffed animals lined up on her bed. These days, she delights in seeing her students take on new learning every day and especially appreciates when students she has previously taught return to Montview to visit. Truly feeling like part of the fabric of this community, Janie deeply appreciates all who comprise the Montview community. She came to Montview 14 years ago and has primarily taught 3rd grade and currently provides instruction as a reading interventionist.
Prior to teaching, Janie received her Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in Business with a Minor in Spanish. Years later, she also completed a Master’s degree in Business at the University of Denver. After nearly 20 years in the business world, Janie changed careers and completed her elementary teaching certification from the University of Colorado Denver in 2006. When not lesson planning, you can find her in the great outdoors.
Hannah Mekkawy has lived in many states (South Carolina, California, Georgia and New York), but has settled in the beautiful state of Colorado with her husband, newborn daughter, and two dogs. Hannah attended undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder and received her B.A. in Psychology. She later attended Rutgers University and received her Masters in Social Work. Hannah has experience interning, volunteering, and working in a variety of settings, such as an alternative to incarceration program for women struggling with addiction and the department of human services working directly with families and children. Hannah is new to Montview Elementary and this is her first year working in a school setting. Hannah has a strong desire to be a support and advocate for students and their families, and is happy to be surrounded with staff and administration so invested in our students.
Hannah is an animal lover, mountain lover, ice cream lover, and travel lover. Most of all, she loves spending time with her family.
I have been a part of the Montview family since 2003. I love having Playworks at Montview. Playworks has taught our students sportsmanship, new games and better communication.
My goal is to help children learn the importance of self love. Self love is caring for your learning, eating right, exercising and being kind.
Our students are leaders and I am so proud of them.
Tifany Heflin was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science in 2000. She received her Master’s in Public Administration in 2004 (Germany). She has worked as a social worker, emergency placement worker, and as an adult education teacher. She has been at Montview Elementary School for 6 years serving as a Community Liaison and Educational Assistant.
Tifany also serves as an editor with Cenece Dixon Publishing Company. She enjoys volunteering with such organizations as PTCO, Now Faith Youth Group, Star Girlz Inc., F.A.V.A. (Families Against Violent Acts), and King Me. She enjoys traveling, museums, and visiting historical sites. She is a wife and mother of two beautiful children.
Guadalupe Ruiz was born and raised in Southern California. She currently resides in Denver with her husband and children. Guadalupe graduated from Metropolitan State University where she received a Bachelor's degree in Human Services with an emphasis in High Risk Youth. She has a passion for working in diverse communities providing and advocating for culturally responsive services.
Guadalupe enjoys spending time with family, nature, and sunsets.
APS Schools that I have worked at since 1997:
- North Middle School
- Vaughn Elementary School
- Park Lane Elementary School
- Dalton Elementary School
- Kenton Elementary School
- Montview Elementary School (2017 & 2019)
Award Winning Drill Team Director for these schools and Parks & Recs. centers, churches, and businesses.
- Grand Design
- North Middle School
- South Middle School
- East Middle School
- Dalton Elementary
- Park Lane Elementary School
- Vaughn Elementary School
- Peaceful Rest Baptist Church
- Moorhead Rec. Center
Mother of 3: Romail, Cynnomon, Dominique. Grandmother of 5, Great Aunt to 1. Godmother of over 10 wonderful people. Mother-in-Law of 1: Doris Gordon.