Executive Director, K-12 Program Director
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
Preschool Program Director
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 worked as a private nanny for 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 proud and grateful to have been a part of the Patchwork family since 2012, after receiving 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.
Toddler Program Director
I have taught at The Patchwork School for four years and this will be my fifth year teaching! I have worked with and enjoy every age group. I first started working with children in an Americorps program through Project YES (youth envisioning social change) in Lafayette. Since then, I have worked with children in many different settings, including day camps, service learning projects, and classrooms. I received my Bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in poetry from The Colorado College. And recently finished my Master's degree in Education through Goddard College and The Patchwork School internship program. I love guitar, singing, reading, music, and art. I am an avid believer in unicorns and magic. I am a writer and a creator, and love the space The Patchwork School creates and offers for children, families, and teachers to engage in self-actualization through freedom, responsibility, and compassion.
Parent Education Director, K-12 Teacher
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!
K12 Lead 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
Preschool 3/4 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!
Toddler Lead 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.
Michele Craig Leonard (Mitch)
Preschool 3/4 Teacher/Parent
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. The wonderful Christy Lochary introduced me to The Patchwork School, were all people regardless of age, are agents for change when they engage critically and compassionately with the world. I then got my Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from CU Denver and teaching certifications from The Friends School Teaching Program in Boulder. I love sharing in the discovery and delight of learning with my young students and creating a multi-generational environment. I live in Louisville with my husband, Jesse, and my son, Thacher. I have worked at Patchwork for 6 years both in the preschool and as director in the toddler program. I am excited to be back in the preschool this year. Thacher will be in the toddler program and my niece, Amelia, will be in the K12. We are very grateful for our Patchwork community and having it as part of our family.
Preschool 4/5 Lead Teacher
I started working at Patchwork as a substitute in fall 2012 and instantly fell in love with this place- the sense of community that brings teachers, children, and family members together, the skills children and adults both learn from our philosophy and practices, and the open arms and hearts of the people here is inspiring and beautiful. I spent the 2013-2014 school year as a co-teacher in the 2/3 preschool group (now the 3/4 group) and am excited to have followed many of those children to the 4/5 group. It gives me a better understanding of them as individuals and helps us maintain a strong bond. My life has taken me all over the place- in the past I've worked in an after school program with elementary aged children, and directed a middle school aged summer camp program for 6 years. I have also been a baker, a massage therapist, and I worked in Antarctica for 6 months. I've always had a passion for community and have been living in a co-op with 14 people in downtown Boulder since Spring 2012.
Preschool 4/5 Lead Teacher
Brett fell in love with The Patchwork School's approach to education after spending time in the space as a play therapy intern with The Boulder Center for Play Therapy. He is a recent graduate of Naropa Universiity with an MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and is dedicate to providing a safe, supportive and compassionate environenment for social and emotional growth and education. Brett has worked with chidlren in educational and therapeutic settings for over 10 years as a therapuetic aide, mentor, figure skating instructor, play therapist and asistance teacher at a school for children on the autism spectrum in New York City. Brett is an artist and inventor at heart and brings his creativity and innovative mind to all aspects of this life. He is passionate about fostering the creative potential in all of those that he works with and believes that the greatest gift one can give to another is the encouragement and support to be exactly who they are. He looks forward to this upcming year with The Patchwork School and his intention is to recognize and honor the unique wisdom and perfection in all of his students.
Social Emotional Support Teacher
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 has served as administrative assistant for the Alternative Education Resource Organization’s Colorado office, and was a member of the AERO Conference Organizing Committee. In addition she was also involved in a Community Organizing internship with The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA), where she connected community organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Kansas and Utah.
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.
Allie Van Buskirk
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.