Faces of CSS: Faculty & Staff
This is an ongoing series highlighting our faculty and staff. Check back often!
What is your role at CSS? I am the athletic director and girls’ varsity basketball coach, and Middle School girls’ basketball coach.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Our CSS community might find it a bit surprising to know that my first gig at CSS was actually in 2001 as a part-time worker in Maytag, either serving food or checking in kids. In fact, it was in this setting when Rick Risk, the athletic director, approached me about coaching the girls’ basketball team. My life was in flux as my coaching position at USAFA had abruptly ended, so I promised him I would only be able to coach one year. Now, 19 years later, I am sitting in Rick’s old chair at his desk, hiring more CSS coaches.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? Lessons I’ve learned from students at CSS include not taking myself too seriously and being in the moment. Also, young people are very resilient, which has been witnessed during this COVID-19 experience, and I’m always impressed with how our students find a rhythm and can balance their hectic school days.
What did you want to be growing up? As a child, a dreamer of making the world a better place, I journaled my ambitions of being a doctor, teacher, and lawyer. Luckily for me, as a teacher, coach, and athletic director, I have been able to utilize several aspects of these professions in my life’s work. My grandmother and parents were also teachers, so I gravitated toward what was familiar to me. I vividly recall playing “teacher” with the neighborhood kids, writing lessons on the small, green chalkboard, and giving out homework assignments. Or I was getting all the kids together for a “practice,” drawing up basketball plays on my dad’s old clipboards. I am so lucky to have found my true calling in the form of teaching and coaching.
What is your favorite spot in the world? My favorite spot in the world would be on a basketball court, any court, anywhere in the world. A basketball court is my safe place, my home away from home. While growing up, a basketball court offered me solace, control, and self-reliance when I needed to escape or find a routine. To rediscover my youth, all I have to do is grab a basketball and step onto a court, any court, anywhere in the world.
What is your role at CSS? I am a 3rd grade teacher.
What did you want to be growing up? A professional soccer player in the World Cup. I’ve settled for adult recreational soccer games, but I’m pretty happy with that.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? I love the tight-knit community that is characteristic of CSS. The smaller class sizes allow for deeper relationships with students and parents. This, along with an amazing group of colleagues, is just a few, but really important, factors that keep me coming back every year.
What is your role at CSS? My roles at CSS are English Department Chair, Upper School English teacher, Capstone Program Director, National Honor Society Faculty Adviser, Senior Class Sponsor, Full STEAM Ahead Program Director, and Upper School Community Service “tracker.”
What is a favorite memory at CSS? Wow! There are more than I can sort through to find just one, so I’ll just write down a few to capture some of my favorites: Protecting Mr. Benson through the streets of Hoi An; laughing hysterically with Natalie R. as she bailed water into our canoe on the Mississippi; Matt B. hunting our AP class with a super soaker as we reenacted “The Most Dangerous Game”; purposely putting stressed seniors to sleep by reading Romantic poetry (Julie S.C.); and many, many CSS Revue skits!
What draws you to working with students? I am reassured by some of the standard conventions of human development that I can rely on from year to year, including the look of wonder on a student’s face when they face a brilliant realization or make a brilliant stride forward — those AHA! moments keep me going and produce more and more of my own AHAs!
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why? I love the campus itself. I have missed driving by the pond every day and spotting ducklings or turtles or great blue herons, along with several grazing deer or the occasional bear in the field or by the creek. I enjoy looking out of my classroom window at the changing leaves on the trees on the quad and seeing the other buildings full of so many great people whom I admire and care about.
What is your favorite spot in the world? That’s easy! A bookstore or a library. I feel inspired and calmed by being surrounded by books.
What is your role at CSS? I am a Middle School math teacher, a sponsor of the Math Olympiad team, and an assistant coach for Middle School Volleyball.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? It is hard to choose one favorite memory! Some of my favorite memories are from seminars and chaperoning Middle School events. My first Game Night, I was racing around with the kids on Boddington Field in the dark and playing capture the flag with glow sticks, and then for the Middle School Overnight, I was playing games at night in the gym and sleeping in the Trianon. I saw then how creating experiences for the students, from simple to elaborate, is what CSS is all about.
What draws you to working with children? Being a teacher means that I get the chance to share in the life of each student - just for this short time of a year or two. I get to see them growing into themselves, discovering and uncovering talents and passions, overcoming challenges. It’s a magical experience and an honor.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? One of the things that makes CSS such a special place is the faculty. I feel honored to work with such thoughtful, dedicated, innovative, passionate, hardworking, good natured educators. My colleagues inspire me and make me smile every day.
What is your favorite spot in the world? My favorite spot is with my boys! This photo was taken at my son Jonathan’s wedding last fall.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? There are many! I often think about the first World Language Wax Museum in 2018. It was so impressive to see all 7th and 8th world language students become historical figures and talk about their lives and their discoveries, in French and Spanish! It was like a dream come true to walk through the Trianon and hear conversations in languages other than English. I was so proud of all the participants! Their costumes, their research, their language skills were all amazing. It was also the day my fiancé proposed, so it was really the best day ever.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? I love the community. The students, faculty, staff, and parents are all so supportive, and it feels like my family.
What is your favorite spot in the world? Any French lawn with a baguette and a wheel of cheese. I love hearing people speak French, and there are few things better than a French baguette with some good cheese. C’est la joie de vivre!
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I grew up on a small island 8 miles called Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, northern Michigan. There is a population of about 400 year-round residents. No motorized vehicles are allowed, except emergency ones. The island has about 100 kids total in one building for public school for kindergarten through 12th grade. I graduated with 4 students in my grade.
What did you want to be growing up? I have always wanted to be a teacher. I loved helping friends with their math for as long as I can remember. My mom has also saved quizzes that I created and gave my younger brother when I was about 10. They were normally quizzes about our mom. I even had some extra credit questions on them.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? There are so many. CSS has given me relationships with students and other faculty members that I never dreamed possible. I have definitely found another home here. I have had the opportunity to teach some students two years of math, teach siblings, coach athletes for four years in a row in two sports, camp and cook with students and faculty members, design numerous different seminars with faculty across curriculums, and work with students from 3rd grade to 12th grade.
What is your role at CSS? I’m a kindergarten teacher, and I coach the Upper School cross country team.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? My kindergartners have taught me to look at each experience through their eyes. Learning and discovering something new for the first time is fun, exciting, and hard work! I love sharing in my students’ joy as they experience things for the first time during the kindergarten year.
What did you want to be growing up? I always wanted to be a teacher. I had a little chalkboard in my bedroom growing up and used to teach my stuffed animals every day!
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? I love the sense of community at CSS. It is something that truly makes our school special. Seeing the connection between the kindergartners and their pre-k buddies, 3rd grade buddies, and senior buddies exemplifies the special relationships that take place on our campus.
What is your favorite spot in the world? Hiking anywhere in the mountains; it’s my happy place. If I’m not at school, that’s usually where you’ll find me with my husband and our two puppies.
What is your role at CSS? I am a Middle School history teacher (World Geography, American History, and Ancient Civilizations), and the head coach for the boys’ and girls’ Middle School soccer programs.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? There are many things I love about working at CSS, but the thing I have loved best is the chance to work with students in a variety of settings, whether teaching in the classroom, leading overseas trips, paddling on rivers, squirming through caves, skiing on Colorado’s slopes, coaching on Boddington Field, or logging countless hours in CSS vans. This has allowed me to get to know students’ personalities, strengths, and areas of challenge in a way that would not have been possible in a traditional school setting.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? This isn’t a typical answer, so I run the risk of being accused of being a lame superhero; however, I have said for years that if I could have any power, I would love to have the ability to never sleep. Imagine what one could accomplish and experience with all that extra time!
What did you want to be growing up? Growing up, I was all in on being a professional soccer player. Although I didn’t quite make it, soccer has been a huge part of my life for almost 40 years. As a coach, I have really enjoyed trying to kindle a love for soccer in young people and helping them achieve their goals.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Despite loving to joke around and being energetic with groups of students, I am actually pretty shy and an introvert.
What draws you to working with students? I love the fact that students have their whole lives ahead of them with so many exciting possibilities. It is energizing to see young people find and develop their passions. When it happens in a class, seminar, or sport I am teaching, it is particularly gratifying.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? I have learned not to take myself too seriously. It is a lot more fun that way.
What is your favorite spot in the world? My favorite spot in the world is Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks with jagged peaks surrounding it, Moraine Lake’s otherworldly turquoise-blue water is something I will never forget.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? This is a tough question, as I have had so many great experiences at CSS. One of my favorites was an 18-day trip to Peru I took with 15 Middle and Upper school students in June 2002. Experiencing Cusco, hiking the Inca Trail for four days to Machu Picchu, and then completing a high Andean trek that took us through remote villages while circumnavigating 21,000 ft. Mt. Ausangate were all amazing. Seeing first-hand the joy of these discoveries through the eyes of the students made it even more memorable.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? I think my very first bonfire at CSS would be among my favorites. It was a great way to see the community together. What I would do right now for a CSS bonfire!
What did you want to be growing up? Not sure, still waiting. Actually, I have always gravitated toward work that involved serving others, especially those less fortunate than myself.
What draws you to working with students? That there is never a bad day and that learning happens around every corner, you just need to keep your head up!
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why? I enjoy seeing students challenge themselves every day to be and do more. I love watching kids who say they “can’t” and do. I enjoy working with teachers who often put the needs of others before their own.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? Today, I would love to read minds, because somedays I just don’t know. Most of the time, I thinking scheduling requires a superpower. And just to be clear, Batman does not have any superpowers!
What is your role at CSS? I am a first grade teacher.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I built my first home with my husband. It was called an Earthship and was made of tires and completely off the grid.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? Every memory involves the community - first as a parent, now as both a parent and teacher. We have such incredible people here!
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? You can ALWAYS learn something new!
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I would invent a new one: octopus arms that I could deploy when I need to be doing several things at once!
What did you want to be growing up? A teacher - a nurse was a close second.
What draws you to teaching? The wonder and joy of children - helping to build on that is an incredible gift!
What is your favorite spot in the world? Any place with my family!
What is your role at CSS? I am the Creative Dramatics teacher for kindergarten through 5th grade and the Middle School Drama Teacher.
What did you want to be growing up? When I was growing up, I wanted to be three things. An olympic swimmer, an opera singer and an astronaut. Although I didn’t accomplish any of these titles, I believe I have the spirit of all three. When it comes to sports I can be pretty competitive. I love training for half marathons and playing sports. I am a classically trained singer, and I originally went to college for opera performance. I grew up singing in choirs and taking voice lessons, and I currently sing with the Colorado Springs Chorale. A love for music is still a big part of my life. I can’t say too much about being an astronaut, except for that I love adventure and imagination. Being a theatre teacher definitely sparks both of those interests on a daily basis.
What draws you to teaching? What draws me to teaching is the challenge to create an environment where students are able to explore their individual creative potential. I am constantly trying to find ways to build a classroom where students are not afraid to be vulnerable and to take creative risks, ultimately being more confident in their artistic choices. Drama, by nature, is collaborative, instinctual and is an exploration of our environment. I love to see students working together, following their instincts, and making discoveries about themselves and the world around them.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? Something I love about CSS is the people. I’ve never been around a group of teachers that work so hard to build the best learning environment for their students. Everyone cares so deeply about each student. I also love the diversity of experiences that students are able to accomplish throughout their education at CSS. From experiential education to the arts, students have an array of educational opportunities to prepare them for the world.
What is your role at CSS? I am the Instrumental Music teacher and Band Director for grades 4-12. I also teach Upper School Music Theory, direct the Pep Band, and coach the Upper School Garage Band, Holiday Winds, and various other small ensembles.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? I’ve learned that goosebump moments aren’t restricted to professional recordings, performances, or paintings. Our CSS musicians, actors, and artists create some incredible moments that touch my heart and inspire me to be better at what I do. Our students create moments that will raise the hair on your arms, cause you to believe that they actually are the character they are portraying, or help you to experience colors (or other visuals) in a whole new way.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I am a HUGE fan of the superheroes that have gadgets like Batman or the Green Arrow. Give me a utility belt full of cool devices or some arrows with a sweet bow, then add a neat costume, and I would be good to go! If I had to choose a superpower, I would love to have Spiderman’s ability to stick to things, paired with his super strength!
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? I love how we think outside of the box and encourage risk-taking while exploring the possibilities of experiential education within every discipline.
What did you want to be growing up? I don’t know that I ever decided that I officially wanted to be a cowboy or the character from a favorite TV show - although I’m sure there are pictures and stories somewhere that suggest otherwise - but I always did want to follow my mom and dad around and learn how to do things that interested them. At one time my dad was a carpenter, and I would build things in the garage using his tools and scraps of wood. I would also go out on jobs and help him paint or do various other tasks. I did the same with my mom, following her around the kitchen and wanting to help her bake or visiting her at work when she was an RN in the ICU at the hospital. I wanted to be like them!
What is a favorite memory at CSS? I met my wife, Stacy, at the school, and we worked together for several years, so getting married at CSS was an amazing experience. The ceremony was outside on the Terrace of the Trianon in late October 2014. It was a beautiful 80-degree day with Colorado blue skies and the fall colors all around us. I remember looking over near the entrance to the gym and seeing two of my Upper School Band students watching our ceremony. There were regional volleyball games going on in the Field House that weekend, so our girls team ran out to give us hugs in-between games. I also remember a team from another school sitting under a tree on the quad, and cheering for us when the pastor finally said “you may now kiss the bride.” Such a magical moment at CSS!
What is your role at CSS? I am a first grade teacher.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? I’ve learned tons of things from my students, but the most important thing is to slow down and listen. Kids have great ideas and think in ways adults rarely consider, so there’s a lot you can learn from them if you do.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I would have super speed. That way, I’d be able to work with my first graders even more each day!
What did you want to be growing up? I wanted to be a first grade teacher. I got very lucky!
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? I love the way CSS encourages students and teachers alike to reach for their potential. CSS opens countless opportunities for people to try new things and explore the world around them.
What is your role at CSS? I am the Visual Arts teacher for grades 3-12. I teach a variety of Art electives in the Upper School such as Ceramics, Jewelry-Making, Printmaking, Video Production, and Digital Photography.
What is one of your favorite memories at CSS? One favorite memory is when guiding a student in class they said, “Mrs. Reynolds, you are like a magician - you are amazing!”
What did you want to be growing up? I wanted to be two things: a musician and an artist. I wasn’t sure what kind of artist, but I wanted to become famous for my art! I played the cello when young, and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar and sing so I could be in a band.
What draws you to teaching? I grew up with a Mom as an artist and a Dad as an architect. We often went to museums, and I would think about how I could share my love of art with others. In addition to creating my own artwork, teaching became a rewarding way to share my love of art with young people. I get incredible joy from creating, making, discovering, and exploring different mediums of art, and I wanted to share that passion with students.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? They might be surprised to know that I created my own business, called Mountain Clayworks, where I was a professional potter for 12 years, making and selling my work locally at Commonwheel Artist Co-op in Manitou Springs, as well as making special orders for people such as dinnerware sets, mug sets, etc. Two years ago, I created another business called Colorado Karma Jewelry by Kaja, where I make beaded, leather, and forged copper jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. I sell my jewelry locally at a wonderful Artists Cooperative called EclecticCO, located in downtown Colorado Springs.
What is your role at CSS? I am the administrative assistant for the Children’s School. From my desk in the Early Childhood Center, I try to make sure everyone has what they need to get their jobs done.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I would want my super power to be the ability to move things with my mind.
What is one thing you enjoy about CSS? One thing I enjoy about CSS is I get to spend my day with the best kids on the planet. They brighten my day with their enthusiasm, energy, joy, and giggles.
What draws you to working with children? I am drawn to working with kids because it’s always an adventure. Every day brings new rewards and new challenges. The kids are excited to take on the day, and it’s contagious. (And they don’t think my dinosaur obsession is weird.)
What is your role at CSS? I am the chef who prepares lunch and other goodies for the children and faculty and staff.
What do you enjoy about your role? I am the lucky one who gets to provide food and other refreshments to some incredible students and faculty and staff. My career philosophy is, “Always go beyond what your clients wants/needs,” and my customers are the kids. I want their time during lunch to be a place to laugh, relax, eat good food, and just be kids.
What draws you to working with children? Well, kids of all ages LOVE to eat. My profession allows me to see the excitement when there are “curly fries” on the menu. I so appreciate their smiles, intriguing questions, practicing manners daily, and so much more. Everyday you have a different cast of characters that makes your day perfect.
-If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? I don’t need to be a superhero, but I would like to FLY.
What is your role at CSS? I teach science and mathematics in the Upper School.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? In my 20s, I happily lived out of my truck or a tent for months at a time while I traveled the Western US, South America, and the South Pacific in search of adventure such as rock climbing, mountaineering, river running, and scuba diving.
What is a favorite memory at CSS? Meeting my wife here.
What is one thing you’ve learned from students? I learn something new and interesting from students every single day in the classroom. Most of my students are smarter and more clever than I am. I’ve just been thinking about science and math longer than they have, so I get to teach these subjects to them.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? Flight.
What did you want to be growing up? First, a pilot, and then a mountain guide.
What draws you to working with students? The energy, creativity, inventiveness, and humor of high school students.