Michele Beach

Executive Director, Teacher & Board of Directors
As a parent myself I know how difficult it can be to decide where to start sending your child to school. In fact the first time my husband and I discussed possibilities for our son’s education I was shocked when he suggested we should consider home schooling. I had a wonderful experience in public schools and just assumed that my children would do the same, so I was surprised to hear that he thought it might not be the best approach. Since that conversation I have learned a great deal about the current trends regarding standards-based education and how desperately our children need a more hands-on approach.  I now understand how much children can learn by experiencing the world directly and through relationships with others. This knowledge, along with my teaching and parenting experiences, has helped me to believe that it is possible to create an educational environment that invites children to be passionate about life and learning.



B.S. Computer Science, Stanford University, 2000

M.A. Educational Psychology, University of Colorado Denver, 2007

Early Childhood Education Teaching License

Director Qualification, Colorado Department of Human Services



Sean Allen

Science Specialty Teacher

I have spent the past six years working with children, the elderly, the medically fragile, and people with developmental disabilities.  Prior to coming to Patchwork, I worked for five years at Imagine!, a non-profit that works with children and adults who have developmental disabilities.  Before this, I worked at an assisted living facility where I was responsible for over 25 people.  I worked for a summer at Thorne Ecological Institute, a wonderful organization based in East Boulder that offers environmental education to children.  My school and education experience includes Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative, as well as Boulder Journey School, a preschool based on the Reggio Emilia approach of learning.  I spent two years working as a snowboard instructor at Eldora Mountain Resort, where I focused specifically on working with children.  I began working at Patchwork as a volunteer and substitute teacher, and really enjoyed it.  I was attracted to Patchwork because of the democratic based education style, and a desire to focus on creating opportunities for children to learn rather than trying to learn for them. In my free time, I enjoy playing chess, hiking, snowboarding, being outside, and spending quality time with friends.



Dave Beach

Outdoor Specialty Teacher, Facilities Maintenance & Finance

Dave got in on the ground floor (the basement, actually) of the Patchwork School in 2007 as the facilitaties/maintenance person. He has recently added the outdoor specialty teaching position and finance to his list of responsibilities.  Dave has degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Real Estate/Construction Management.



Paige Berry

Toddler Lead Teacher

 Paige was a theater major at UNC-Greensboro when she developed a strong interest in sharing theater with young children. Soon after college she joined a traveling children’s theater tour in which she performed and led theater workshops for elementary students throughout the Southeast. The joy, the laughter, and the inspiration she experienced, through sharing and engaging in creative, dramatic exploration with children, sparked her interest in early childhood education. Not too long after this experience Paige moved to Boulder to pursue her Master’s in ECE. Through the Boulder Journey School teacher education program and Cu Denver, Paige earned her Masters and became a licensed ECE teacher. Paige is continually inspired by the sheer joy, excitement, curiosity, and wonder with which young children explore the world. Paige sees children as natural learners who deserve time and space to play, explore and discover. Paige believes in supporting and extending children’s thinking by offering experiences, which are open-ended, play-based, child-directed, and connected to children’s interests. Paige seeks to offer children multiple languages of learning through which to express their ideas, and is particularly passionate about incorporating creative movement, music, and drama into experiences. Paige is absolutely thrilled to be joining the Patchwork community as a toddler teacher!



Todd Bilsborough

Music Specialty Teacher

I was born in Aurora, CO and after several years with the US Army I moved to Boulder to pursue an education in music at Naropa University. While there I developed an interest in contemplative and early childhood education, and added a contemplative education minor to my BA in music. I'm new to teaching, and I'm very excited to have this opportunity to bring music into children's lives and to learn from so many wonderful teachers, young and old. I believe that all people are innately musical, and that it is the birthright of every human being to discover and explore their own musical interests. And I'm lucky enough to be able to share in the excitement and joy as children make some of their first steps into the world of music. When not playing and singing songs with people at Patchwork, I work as a musician, composer, and performing artist.



Zoe Dunn

4/5 Preschool Teacher

Originally from Los Angeles, CA I developed a passion for Early Childhood Education after having my son.  After receiving a Teacher’s Certificate in ECE from Santa Monica College, I moved to Boulder to continue my education at Naropa University, where I recently received my BA in Contemplative Early Childhood Education. Moving to Boulder I have continued my love of hiking and finding the best places to appreciate Mother Nature.  In California it was the ocean and the beach, in Colorado it has been the Rocky Mountains; all gifts that are incorporated in my philosophy of education.  When I’m not teaching/learning from the children, parents and teachers at Patchwork, I am with my son cooking, baking, playing and enjoying life.



Amy Horvath

Library/Materials Resource Coordinator, Facilities Coordinator

I am passionate about working with children. I believe that the child’s work is play. Play entails imagination and a sense of personal involvement and purpose – whether it is purpose in storytelling, artwork, dancing, or just being silly. Play involves the freedom to explore the environment at hand thoroughly with one’s senses, all the while learning through sensation, creation, and exploration. It is something that should be enjoyable and FUN. And in that moment when a child loses herself and makes a new connection, when she has that realization and you can see the sparks shooting from her head as she processes, there is magic. Pure and simple. This is why I teach...(well that and the oodles of hugs). I received my BA in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University and then went straight into the Masters Program in Early Childhood Education. My family and I feel blessed to have found The Patchwork School and its amazing and inspiring staff and program. 




Brenda Ilowit

K-12 Teacher, Parent Outreach Coordinator, Counselor

I studied to be certified in Art Therapy while getting my BFA in Fine Art at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.  Throughout my studies and 3 years of practicum I loved all of the populations I worked with deeply, including veterans, geriatric, special needs, adolescent psych and school aged.  I have always been a dedicated advocate of every person’s potential  to solve their own problems, and to be a compassionate member of their community. I redesigned my program internship for my thesis year to offer therapeutic tools, directly to young people in a school setting, as preventative education in emotional intelligence.  I enthusiastically continued with this work by teaching for Studio in a School, serving varied populations in educational and community settings.  As an Artist/Instructor in residency I had the support I needed, to collaborate with youth, teachers/counselors and administrators, in order to offer and exhibit student centered art processes that represented personal and community experience and experiential learning. Studio in a School then granted me my post grad studies and a paid practicum for the K-12 New Art Teacher Licence at Pratt Institute.   I left NYC after one year in a Department of Education art room with 350-400 students passing through per week.   I recovered in Los Angeles working as the Art Director of Trash for Teaching, a non profit that collected beautiful industrial cast off materials that I delivered with a Reggio framework to families, pre-schools, schools, museums and artists. These two years catapulted my lifelong environmentalism forward and also served as the introduction to my focus in early childhood education after which I left to become a full time MOM.  My self directed education and research became focused on early childhood development and parenting as well as education. My appreciation went to R.I.E. and Attachment Parenting.   When I discovered the Alternative Education Movement, I finally found I wasn’t alone. A long standing and growing community recognizes that the need for an alternative to the current system that provides youth with authentic engagement.    Play Mountain Place  gave us the incredible gift of  Hand in Hand, Parenting by Connection  “Listening to Children” booklets when we enrolled our family.  My husband and I also took their required communications workshops gratefully and attended their parent meetings regularly. When I saw the instructor’s course, to be a certified instructor with Hand in Hand, I could not pass up the opportunity.   Bringing this work to The Patchwork School has been an incredible journey in community building and honoring the evolution of parenting and education backed with scientific research. The more we put our family and community connection plan in place, the easier it gets. I am grateful to be sewing this thread into the Patchwork quilt!



Rebekah Lassen

2/3 Preschool Lead Teacher

Children have always been an integral part of my life. I come from a large, loving family and was raised in a very tight-knit community, so I have been caring for, playing with, and learning from kids since I can remember. I've also worked as a kindergarten teaching assistant, done volunteer work in schools, and have been a private nanny for the last three years. My most thorough experience with children has been in my role as a mother though. My daughter, Ava, has inspired me to learn and grow in ways I did not even know were possible. Finding Patchwork was a dream come true for both of us. I am so grateful to have found a place that honors and celebrates my child and her learning process in the way that Patchwork does, and to learn as a teacher in this kind of setting! I am an intern teacher here for the 2012-2013 school year, also working on my certificate in Early Childhood Education through the TILA Teach and Lead teacher certification program. I received my BA in Sociology from Arizona State University in 2009.



Michele Craig Leonard (Mitch)

Toddler Program Coordinator

I received my BA in Sociology and Gerontology at Colorado State University in 2007. Shortly after I  discovered my passion for learning and laughing with children. Through a series of the "stars aligning" I found The Patchwork School were all people regardless of age, are agents for change when they engage critically and compassionately with the world. I then conquered my Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from CU Denver and teaching certifications from The Friends School Teaching Program in Boulder, CO. I love sharing in the discovery and delight of learning with my young students and creating a multi-generational learning community. I am so grateful to be a part of the loving and supportive petri-dish of Patchwork. 




Baxter Lubbs

2/3 Preschool Teacher

Hello Patchwork community! I began as a substitute last year around November. I've enjoyed getting more and more immersed in Patchwork as the school year progressed by becoming a part time teacher in K-12 along with subbing here and there. It's great being a full time teacher in Preschool this yearr! Along with teaching I am also passionate about food and the earth, so this past summer I enjoyed the great outdoors by farming 4 days a week on Isabelle Farm, an organic family owned farm in Lafayette.



Christy Lochary

Preschool Program Coordinator

Christy Lochary serves as the community liaison in addition to being a teacher at The Patchwork School. Having attended public school as a young person, Christy went on to graduate from University of Colorado with a B.A. in Fine Arts and a minor in Sociology. Her desire to work at The Patchwork School stems from a desire for all children to have the opportunity to find an environment that works for them; an environment that supports their development as self-actualized individuals living in community with others.  Christy also serves as administrative assistant for the Alternative Education Resource Organization’s Colorado office, and is a member of the AERO Conference Organizing Committee.  In addition she is also involved in a Community Organizing internship with The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA), where she will be connecting community organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas and Utah.



Liza Sparks

Toddler Teacher

I have been lucky enough to have the most amazing teachers in my life, teachers who have nurtured my love of learning and encouraged me to hunger for the pursuit of knowledge. It is partly these teachers and mentors that have inspired me to pursue a career in education. It is important for me to give back to my community and I believe that teaching is one way for me to accomplish this. I grew up in Colorado and have worked with youth in various settings: classroom, non-profit, day camp, and outdoor classroom. I graduated from The Colorado College with my English degree and a concentration in poetry. After spending time as a substitute, a couple of years ago, at The Patchwork School I knew that I had to pursue a career an education.  I look forward to seeing the children and getting to know them as people. I just recently finished my Masters in Elementary Education through Goddard College.  I am so excited to particiapte in the Patchwork community and to laugh and learn with the youth, parents, community members, and teachers.



Jason Swick

K12 Teacher & Support Teacher

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Jason began working with young children at an early age. He gained experience working in various childcare facilities and summer programs for multiple years. This is where he developed a passion for both education and counseling.

Jason graduated from Fort Lewis College in beautiful Durango, Colorado, with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education, and K-6 teacher licensure. Eager to combine his knowledge of teaching, with his strong interest in counseling and the outdoors, Jason moved to Oregon to work for Dragonfly Transitions. Dragonfly is a transitional mental health program for young adults, seeking assistance with life skills, emotional stability, substance abuse, and other related treatment issues. Jason worked as a mentor assisting clients with setting goals, facilitating daily routines, and by supporting each individuals therapeutic process. He is thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn and grow as a professional, while working hands-on with young adults. After two years of working in the mental health field, Jason was eager to get back to working with children in an educational setting.

Wanting to return home Jason began his search for a place of employment that would both support his past education and experience, as well as challenge him to learn, adapt, and grow. He was fortunate to find The Patchwork school in his search, and is delighted to have the opportunity to join their community. Jason is excited to return to Colorado with his fiancee Cassie to be closer to family, friends, access the outdoors, and begin his new role in the Patchwork community!

"You have brains in your head

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

Any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go." - Dr.Seuss



Allie Van Buskirk

Lead Support Teacher, Grant Writer

Residing in beautiful Boulder, Allie can most often be found enjoying mountain trails with her dog Sundance and pursuing her many hobbies. As a budding herbalist, artist, gardener, yogi, and seamstress, she is on a path towards spiritual wholeness and deeper connection to nature and community. Working with young people as an educator and mentor has also become one of her greatest passions on this journey. Since 2006, she has been fortunate to work with youth ages 0-24 in several capacities. Some highlights include co-developing a 6-month community engagement curriculum for 4th grade students, designing a 13 week art-therapy program for teen mothers involved in the juvenile justice system, and serving as the Executive Director of a non-profit that provides service-learning and arts based programs to K-12 youth. The varying educational approaches involved in each of these experiences became a personal experiment for Allie, the results fueling her desire to teach at the Patchwork School. She believes whole-heartedly in the philosophy that values every individual as teacher and learner and encourages every individual to actively engage in their learning process. She plans to continue her work with youth, learning from wonderful schools like Patchwork, in hopes of creating a world that embraces interdependence, seeks wholeness, sees abundance, generates growth, and values decay. A world where we can not only find comfort in hanging upside down, but also consider that upside down might be right side up. 



A Culture of Caring For Each Other

As adults who are responsible for the care, wellbeing and education of young children, we believe that we first have to take responsibility for ourselves and our impact in the world.  If we want to have a culture of love and forgiveness (we often call this compassion) among the children at our school, we must first create such a culture among the adults.  So, to this end, we have a culture of caring among the staff at our school.  We model how we love each other, how we have disagreements and how we can listen to and learn from our differences.