Welcoming New Faculty & Staff

We are pleased to announce that the following faculty and staff members have joined The Colorado Springs School for the 2021-2022 academic year. Additionally, two long-term faculty and staff transitioned into new positions at CSS this summer. Learn more and get to know these faces of CSS below!

Ali Brimeyer, Children's and Middle School Science

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be a scientist. I was able to fulfill that dream by working as a research technician in a biomedical engineering lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I found that working with kids and sharing my passion for science is much more fulfilling for me!

What draws you to working with students?
Working with kids is the best. Their energy is contagious. I learn something new from them every day.

Bio: Ali Brimeyer graduated cum laude from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During her time at the University of South Carolina, she worked in a laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, where she studied the effects of chronic amphetamine use on the prefrontal cortex in an animal model for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Following graduation, Ali began working in a biomedical engineering lab at Georgia Institute of Technology studying the use of biomaterials to augment healing following rotator cuff tears. The 2021-2022 school year will mark her fourth year bringing science to life in the classroom. Ali has taught students grades 3-12 across a myriad of subjects, including physics, chemistry, biology, life science and more. Previously, she taught in the Atlanta Public School system, at a small private homeschool hybrid institution, and at a charter school in the Colorado Springs area. Ali has also tutored students in the subject of math. She is very excited to be joining the CSS team this year and can’t wait to meet all of her new students!


Heidi Cooper, School Counselor

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a singer.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
It would be to use the power of love to ease a wounded heart and to help you see the powerful gifts within you.

What is your favorite memory at CSS?
My only daughter had her B'nai Mitzvah ceremony on the patio of the Trianon. A B'nai Mitzvah is when more than one person has their coming of age ceremony together.

What is one thing you've learned from students?
Students have shown time and again that their will is strong and that even the youngest can be wise and generous.

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be a teacher and I wanted to sing. I incorporate music into my teaching whenever I can.

What draws you to working with students?
They have a natural enthusiasm for life and I want to help when something or someone is getting in the way of that.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?
The staff seems unpretentious and mission-focused. This really helps support my needs according to Maslow.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?
Wherever my daughter is, and the Jersey Shore. Family means the world to me.

Bio: Heidi Cooper is happy to be a Kodiak. She earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, served as a Family Coach for children and families with Maplestar Colorado and – more recently – comes to us from Colorado Springs School District 11 where she served as a School Social Worker. Prior to her love of counseling and supporting students with social needs, Heidi worked as a Volunteer Coordinator for nonprofits such as the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center in Colorado Springs, where she learned about how being around horses can calm us. Some of her favorite social-emotional learning tools include Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, also called NVC, and releasing anxiety using Tapping. She loved learning about Israel and Palestine when she traveled to the Middle East as part of the Earth Stewards Network and also attended the centenary gathering of the Hague Appeal for Peace in 1999. Feel free to reach out to Heidi anytime by phone or email. She would love to hear more about who you are and to help you navigate any bumps in the road.


Max Frugé, Middle & Upper School French Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a committed vegetarian cook. I can make a mean meatless taco.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
I would want to be able to transform into any animal in a moment’s notice. My default avatars would be a Capuchin monkey, a Narwhal, and one of those baby goats that plays dead to confuse predators.

What is your favorite memory at CSS?

The art shows, theatrical productions, and sporting events that I have attended. CSS has some exceptional extracurricular programs for its students. It warms my heart to see the students thrive in their respective fields of interest.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

I have learned from my students, through their example, that learning can be a great deal of fun. There’s nothing better than having a classroom full of students who are genuinely excited to hear the lesson and contribute to the conversation.

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to be like Jacques Cousteau - not just a marine biologist but a pioneer for environmentalism and exploration! ... Plus he had a cool hat.

What draws you to working with students?

Teaching a foreign language to students is the most rewarding thing in the world to me. Language is the vehicle that we use to communicate our humanity, and every time a person learns a new language, they open the world up ten fold for themselves.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

The academic environment that has been fostered through years of innovative educators refining the scholastic process at CSS has made for an exceptionally motivated student body. The relationship between teachers who are passionate about their field and students who find fun in learning is something that cannot be understated.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

It’s a tie - I love Paris, France, and Akumal, Mexico. Two opposite ends of the spectrum that represent uniquely vibrant and timeless cultures.


Kelley Jefferson, Registrar

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
To make things appear and disappear.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Remembering, in each interaction, that you don't know what energy they are drawing from in their home and personal life.

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to own a garden nursery.

What draws you to working with students?

I enjoy helping students in general; to see their worth; their dedication to keep going for what is worthy and calls to them.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

Everyone has been super kind and helpful! Great community.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

The Colorado Mountains and Maui.

Bio: Kelley Jefferson has lived in Colorado Springs for 36 years. Working alongside many great educators in District 11, she is an experienced Registrar. Her other passions include gardening, camping and exploring the Colorado Mountains. She is looking forward to being a part of the Kodiak community!


Nathan Johnson, Middle and Upper School Science Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a furniture builder and artist.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

I would be able to shoot spaghetti out of my fingertips! First, it's an instant noodle meal. Second, it's a non-invasive way of getting my students' attention.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

That I learn as much from my students as they learn from me, and I am better for it each year.

What draws you to working with students?

I teach for the relationships that are developed when students are challenged and faced with failure. To be a guide and mentor as students navigate these moments is an honor and comes with great responsibility. With great power comes great responsibility!

Bio:
Nathan Johnson was born and raised in Buena Vista, CO, where his mom and dad remain today. He and his wife and their son, Decker, love the Colorado Springs area, especially the west side. Nathan received a B.A. in Education from Concordia University in Austin, TX. He has taught at three schools during his 14-year career. Most recently, he taught science and engineering in Manitou Springs. He is excited to join the CSS family and to begin a journey of deep learning, impactful relationships and life-changing culture.


Theresa Hamby, Children's School Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have lived in Japan and Iceland.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

To laugh off the mistakes.

What did you want to be growing up?

A teacher.

What draws you to working with students?

Seeing that lightbulb moment when a student finally gets something they have been trying to understand.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

I think I would have to say Iceland, the land of fire and ice. It has tranquil beauty – whether it is summer and lupine or cotton grass are in bloom or winter with white, bright blue, and black snow. It is a place relatively untouched by commercialism. We recently took the kids back so they could explore a place they lived and/or were born in. That journey, seeing the wonders of Iceland – black sand beaches, rugged basalt cliffs, rolling green hills, glacier-covered mountains, stunning waterfalls, hot springs, wildlife, rainbows, and the northern lights – with the kids as adults was and will always be one of my most favorite times in one of my most favorite places.

Bio: Theresa Hamby began her teaching career as a 2nd-grade teacher while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Her experiences include teaching 1st grade in the Las Vegas school system and teaching grades two through four at Hilton Head Elementary International Baccalaureate School. Additionally, she spent a year working at the Gifted and Talented Center for York County schools in Yorktown, Virginia. Throughout the course of her career, Theresa has had wonderful opportunities to teach and to work with diverse students and exceptional teachers. As a result, she has been exposed to many different teaching styles and classroom disciplinary systems, and has created, integrated and expanded her classroom curriculum to meet a vast array of student needs. She's adapted what she has learned from each experience to become proficient at designing creative and stimulating lesson plans, which accommodate multiple learning styles, encourage hands-on learning, and promote student discovery and creative-thinking. Theresa earned a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts with a minor in Elementary Education – magna cum laude – from the University of New Hampshire, and a Master of Art in Education from Colorado College.


Ron Hamilton, Middle School Division Director

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I like to build things and work on engines.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

The ability to inspire young people and convince them to have confidence.

What is your favorite memory at CSS?

My daughter's graduation in 2016 and telling stories to children in my wife's classes for many years.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

That every day is a new day with a new opportunity to be the person you want to be.

What did you want to be growing up?

An actor.

What draws you to working with students?

The ability to see their growth and development in real-time.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

I enjoy the dedication that families, students and our faculty and staff have for learning and growing.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

My campsite; every time we get away and play with our family.

Bio: Ron Hamilton is an inveterate resident of the west side of Colorado Springs. A graduate of Manitou Springs High School, Ron began his career teaching college freshmen writing and rhetoric at the University of Denver. He has been supporting young people in our area as a 6th-12th grade English and technology teacher, an International Baccalaureate program coordinator and a school leader for the past 26 years. Ron's story with CSS began as part of a teenage crew operating a giant dragon puppet in a movie shot on campus in the 1980s. He has also officiated weddings on the patio of the Trianon and is married to Mrs. Julie Hamilton, who taught in the Children's School for many years. His daughter, Estella, is a 2016 graduate of CSS, and his daughter, Amelia, attended the Children’s and Middle Schools at CSS. When he's not hiking with his son, Jack, and his dog, Juno, Ron enjoys gardening, snowmobiling and listening to live music.


Tila Hidalgo, Upper School Division Director

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I am very shy.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

To make time stand still.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

That most of what we do in life requires courage, and that the other side of courageous acts is usually joy.

What did you want to be growing up?

A doctor or a teacher.

What draws you to working with students?

They give me hope for the future, and they make me laugh almost every single day.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

It is a community focused on positive experiences that shape learning.

Bio:
Tila Hidalgo is originally from Houston, TX. She earned her B.S. in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University, an M.S. in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Abilene Christian University. She has taught high school science in Texas and internationally at schools in Guadalajara, MX, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Hanoi, Vietnam, the latter at which she served as the secondary principal. Tila is very excited to be back in the U.S. and working with the amazing faculty, staff and students at The Colorado Springs School.


Jim Moulton, Upper School History and AP Political Science Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I taught in the Humanities Sciences for more than 20 years at several colleges.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

I would like to time travel to witness major historic events.

What is your favorite memory at CSS?

At one time, CSS was the sister school to my old boarding school.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Patience.

What did you want to be growing up?

A lawyer.

What draws you to working with students?

The desire to see them learn and begin to think critically.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

Creede, CO, for relaxing and fly fishing.

Bio:
Dr. Jim Moulton taught humanities and social sciences classes in the College of Arts & Sciences at Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus, for nearly 20 years. He helped develop the curriculum and taught the majority of the College's history courses, including World History Since 1500, United States History from Colonial Times to 1876, United States History since 1877, Modern History, American Government, and The Atomic Age. In the political science realm, his classes ranged from Introduction to Political Science to International Relations and World Politics. Dr. Moulton also taught The Ethics of Business Leadership, Ethics: A Global Perspective and Introduction to World Politics. During his time at Johnson & Wales University, Dr. Moulton served on 19 committees and working groups, most notably as Chair of the Honors Program from 2006-2011. Dr. Moulton is a graduate of the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado (Class of 1975), and has a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He also earned an M.A. in European/Russian History, with a concentration on the Stalinist period and cognate fields in Petrine, British, Late Middle Eastern, South American History, and United States History from 1750-to-the-Present from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (1986). Dr. Moulton received a Ph.D. in Russian and European History from the University of Denver, with a concentration in the Petrine period of Russian History and cognate fields in the Romanov and Soviet periods of Russian History, Late Ottoman and Modern Israeli History, English, and Mexican History.


Rebecca Palmer, Children's School Art Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I taught children’s art classes and camps privately for 18 years while living in Northern Virginia and North Carolina. All four of my children have attended my classes while growing up. As soon as my oldest daughter was a teenager, I started teaching teen art camps because I loved creating alongside her.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Children have different strengths that they bring with them to the art room. Some are idea generators; others are detail-oriented. Some use color boldly; others like to use color with subtleness. Children thrive in an art room that is both warm and welcoming. A space that allows for creativity, mistakes and messiness is essential too.

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to illustrate children’s books. As a child, I set up my own workstation and would fold paper into small books and draw on the pages. Rabbits and their little homes were one of my favorite things to draw.

What draws you to working with students?

I love seeing children find excitement and joy in trying new things. In art, they experiment with new materials and new techniques, or they work in a style they have never tried before. It is rewarding to see children absorbed in the process of creating art.

Bio:
Rebecca Palmer holds a B.A. in Art Education from Brigham Young University and has spent 18 years teaching art – from her home studio – to children ages 5-18. As an art educator, she enjoys developing art curriculum and finding ways to help students advance in their learning and skill development. Most of Rebecca’s teaching took place in Northern Virginia, with some in North Carolina. Her classes and summer camps involved working with a variety of art media, along with lessons in art history. Rebecca believes the process of creating art is more important than the product. In her classes, children explore different art materials and techniques, find expression for their ideas, work to improve their artistic skills and learn to work through mistakes. Rebecca enjoys teaching children and loves the reward of seeing children absorbed in the process of creating art. In addition to her teaching experience, Rebecca has continued to develop her own art skills by taking courses in drawing, watercolor and acrylic painting. Landscapes are her favorite subject matter. In June 2020, Rebecca moved with her family to Colorado Springs. She is excited to share her passion for art with students at The Colorado Springs School.


Erik Playe, College and Career Counselor

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I live in Colorado and I don't ski.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

I would be able to ripen an avocado just by touching it. I would even be able to bring avocados back from being overripe by touching them. I could make a dent in world hunger this way and also make guacamole at any moment.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Patience...maybe. I am still working on it.

What did you want to be growing up?

A Jedi and a waterskier.

What draws you to working with students?

Their energy and never having to wonder if I am doing something meaningful.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

I love that we are the Kodiaks. I have been a Wildcat, a Purple Knight, a Winged Beaver, a Cardinal, a Sun Devil, a Hawk and a Warrior, and now I am happy to be a Kodiak.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

Pagosa Springs, CO. My wife, Kelly, and I have a piece of property in Pagosa where we camp. It's our happy place.

Bio:
Erik Playe was born and raised in Northampton, MA, where he graduated from the Williston Northampton School. He attended St. Michael’s College in Vermont, where he majored in English Literature and minored in Spanish. He earned a master’s degree in Liberal Studies, with a focus in Humanities, from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. For the past 13 years, he has been teaching English and/or has served as a college counselor at three U.S. independent schools and at an international school in South America. He served, most recently, as Director of College Counseling, Academic Dean and Softball Coach for a boarding school in Arizona. Erik and his wife, Kelly, are excited to be moving to Colorado Springs. Kelly is a horticulturist, who is starting her own business in resilient landscape design. Kelly and Erik enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, biking, gardening and birding together. Erik loves teaching and working with high school students. He hopes there will be no livelier place on campus than his college counseling office, and is excited to share his enthusiasm with students and families at The Colorado Springs School.


Rachel Pratt, Children's School Creative Dramatics and Middle School Drama Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I write music and have released two albums in the last year.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
Teleportation because I love to travel!

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Grace! It never ceases to amaze me how much grace and understanding kids have and how generously they give it.

What did you want to be growing up?

An actor or a teacher. Now I'm both! Dreams do come true!

What draws you to working with students?

Sharing my passion is one of the most rewarding things I can do.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

I love the community! Everyone from the students to the faculty seem to love being here.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

My favorite spot is my music studio.

Bio:
Rachel is a local professional actor who received a B.A. in Music Theatre from Colorado Mesa University and has more than a decade of experience teaching children. She is also the owner of Premier Princess Entertainment, LLC, a princess character-for-hire company. A jack of all arts, she spends her time acting on Colorado Springs stages, writing music, creating video content, and chasing her preschooler around.


Tammy Wuerth, Extended Care Teacher

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I was bitten by a rattlesnake in 2015 in Tucson, Arizona.

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?

I am a trail runner, and if I was a superhero, my superpower would be to be the fastest mountain runner on the planet in order to save lives when people have accidents in the mountains or when there is a bear or mountain lion threatening them. I would not harm the animals, but I would be there in a snap to redirect them so everyone was safe.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

All students have something special to offer, are often very curious, and innately kind.

What did you want to be growing up?

An artist and/or photographer.

What draws you to working with students?

The unique characteristics that they each individually have.

What is one thing you enjoy about CSS and why?

The camaraderie that is evident within the community of students, parents, and staff.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

When I’m running or hiking anywhere in the natural world - when I’m on the trails in the mountains, Garden of the Gods, at a beach. Anywhere outdoors that brings me a sense of tranquility, inspiration, and calm.

Bio:
Tammy has been an educator for 30 years, working with elementary and middle school students as a special education teacher and case manager. She received a B.S. from Penn State University in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Infancy and Early Childhood and an M.A. in Special Education from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She enjoys being outdoors running on the trails, hiking, biking, and/or spending time with her husband, daughters, and dogs.


Michael Winkelman, Middle and Upper School English Teacher

Bio: Dr. Michael Winkelman grew up in Michigan and went to Kalamazoo College, where he studied Chemistry and spent his junior year in Spain. He went on to the Claremont Graduate University, part of the Claremont college consortium in southern California, where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Renaissance English Literature. Since then, he has been teaching English, dramatic literature, and humanities seminars at schools in the Midwest. He has published two books so far: Marriage Relationships in Tudor Political Drama and A Cognitive Approach to John Donne's Songs and Sonnets. He has also written many essays and review articles, mainly on British literature from a biopoetic perspective, but also occasionally on popular culture and educational reform. He enjoys hiking and swimming, and competes in open-water races. His pet betta is named Percy Fysshe Shelley.


Alex Winnicker, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
Not a powers guy, rather be Batman - lots of money and all kinds of cool gadgets.

What is one thing you've learned from students?

Question everything.

What did you want to be growing up?

Happy – simple as that.

What draws you to working with students?

The ability to make a difference molding an individual and seeing them grow.

Bio: Prior to his current role, Alex Winnicker served as the Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Mater Dei Prep, an independent high school located in Middletown, NJ, where he increased the volume of inquiries and applicants significantly. His preparation for the role at Mater Dei stemmed from his time at Kean University, where he was Director of the KEANetwork, responsible for solidifying partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations for the purpose of building relationships, recruiting students and issuing tuition discounts.

Before his career in admissions, Alex served for 15 years in athletic administration at several NCAA Division III institutions throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, and as an executive leader in the nonprofit sector. In addition, he has taught higher education courses on a broad range of topics; currently, he teaches collegiate online courses in communication. These endeavors, coupled with a master’s degree in Organizational Communication – with a focus on Leadership – have shaped Alex’s approach to his work, leadership style and focus on team dynamics.

Alex also consults with clients on leadership development and team-building and holds vast experience developing, delivering and facilitating large-scale programs to a wide array of individuals, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He has served as a Certified Authorized Everything DiSC® and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ Partner and Trainer since 2016.

A native of Michigan, Alex holds an M.A. in Organizational Communication from Kean University in Union, NJ, and an M.Ed. in Athletic Administration from Endicott College in Massachusetts. He is also a graduate of Penn State University, where he earned a B.A. in History.


Megan Winnicker, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications


What did you want to be growing up?
I discovered my dream of being a writer when I was in the 8th grade. I was inspired by my 8th grade English teacher, who showed me the way. Her continued belief in me has been instrumental to my success.

What draws you to working with students?

I enjoy getting to know students; learning about their passions, talents, and what drives them to succeed. It's the greatest feeling in the world watching them learn and grow into their own unique person. Knowing you've made a difference in just one student's life is the most wonderful accomplishment in the world.

What is your favorite spot in the world and why?

Being a huge foodie, my favorite spot would have to be Paris, France. I'm hoping to return there soon!

Bio:
Megan Winnicker holds more than a decade of communication and marketing experience in both the independent school and higher education sectors. A published author, her professional strengths include feature-writing, social media marketing, photography, publication planning and graphic design. When not working as Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications for The Colorado Springs School, Megan devotes her free time to serving as a freelance communications specialist for numerous leadership development consulting firms across the U.S. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (public relations track), with a double minor in Advertising and Spanish, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, and a Master of Public Administration from Kean University. A native of New Jersey, her hobbies include hiking, reading, curling and spending time with family.

Faculty/Staff Transitions to New Positions

Jessica James, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Jessica James

After serving for 14 years in various communications, marketing and fundraising roles at The Colorado Springs School, Jessica James has been appointed to a new position as Director of Development & Alumni Relations. In her new role, Jessica will look to advance the School's fundraising priorities by sharing the School's mission with donors and aligning resources to meet the needs of CSS. She will also launch alumni engagement efforts to create celebration and connection between the School's past, present and future students. In all efforts, the Development Office will utilize volunteers to bring Annual Fund, Gala & Auction, and alumni events to fruition.



Colleen Nissen, Academic Interventionist

Colleen Nissen

After assuming numerous teaching positions within the Children's School over the past 28 years, Colleen Nissen has been named to the new role of Academic Interventionist. She will collaborate with faculty to best craft interventions and provide professional development to meet students' unique learning styles. Working closely with CSS Learning Specialist Lisa Hughes, Colleen will promote differentiation and varied approaches to learning that will help meet and reach the needs of students.