Michele Beach

Executive Director, K-12 Program Director
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.

 

Qualifications: 

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

 

 

Rebekah Lassen

Preschool Program Director/Parent

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.

 

 

 

Liza Sparks

K-12 Lead Teacher

I have taught at The Patchwork School for five years and this will be my sixth 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. 

 

 

 

Jason Swick

Toddler Teacher/ Preschool 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

 

 

Paige Berry

Toddler Program Director

 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!

 

 

 

 

Baxter Lubbs

Toddlers 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.

 

 

 

 

Cassie Swick

Preschool Lead Teacher

I am more than thrilled to be joining the Patchwork community!
I am originally from Centennial Colorado, where my love for education began shortly after my little brother was born when I was fifteen. I graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2011 with my degree in Elementary Education, and over two thousand hours of teaching experience. From there, my now husband, Jason and I, spent a summer as canoe guides at a camp in Ontario, Canada. We traveled on to southern Oregon, to a small town called Klamath Falls. I first began my early childhood experience at a private school in Klamath in a preschool classroom, and then continued to teach kindergarten at the same school. We moved back to Colorado, and then to Lafayette, in 2013, so Jason could begin his exciting new job at Patchwork, and I could begin teaching preschool at The Primrose School of Lafayette, where I gained two more years experience as a lead teacher. Outside of our passion for teaching, Jason and I enjoy spending time with our wonderful friends and family, hiking with our furry friend Leo, backpacking, camping, music and concerts, skiing, and tending to our garden.
I believe it is a teacher's job to facilitate in the growth of their students with an open heart and mind, and I believe there is no better place, community, or school to do so! I look forward to meeting you at Patchwork!

 

 

Nick Bonney

K-12 Teacher

I am from Albuquerque New Mexico. This is my first year in Colorado and I will be interning at The Patchwork School. My two sons ages 4 and 8 will also be attending. We are super excited to be a part of this community!

I am also a musician, DJ, and mixed media artist who loves to create art and make music with anyone willing to partake. I can’t wait for the coming year and to be a part of such a progressive project.

 

 

 

 Brian Hedden

Preschool Teacher/K-12 Teacher

Originally from New Jersey, he studied media arts and philosophy at NYU. His first teaching experiences was as a video production teacher at Balboa City School in San Diego, CA. He became dedicated to compassionate and democratic education after a season as gardening teacher at Grassroots Free School in Tallahassee, FL. Brian recently relocated to Colorado to be closer to family and to practice the unique educational philosophy offered at the Patchwork School

 

 

 

Olivia (Liv) Tullos-Sisca

K-12 Teacher/Parent Communications
I was born and raised in North Texas, where I began my journey as an un-schooler at age six (I'm always happy to share my story!). My role at Patchwork is to support and scaffold children's unique processes of discovery as they develop who they are, how/what they love to learn, and how/what they inherently bring to our community. I strive daily to do this with a gentle and honest presence steeped in authenticity, compassion, mindfulness, and response to needs and feelings. 

I value each child immensely and believe wholeheartedly that we are all innately good. I practice a holistic, play-based, and child-directed approach when working with children, and I emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence and nervous system regulation. I completed my degree in Early Childhood Education with a Director's Certification at Naropa University, where I am currently finishing my second degree and minor in Peace Studies and Gender & Women's Studies. My training in early development and education has been informed most significantly by the teachings of Montessori, Steiner (Waldorf), and the practice of Synergetic Play Therapy. Toss these in with my love for and personal commitments to democratic process, social justice activism, and free-range learning, and you've got a true "patchwork" of philosophies that continually inform my ever-evolving approach. 

I am honored to share time and creativity with the children in my care, and am so grateful to the families who offer their children the opportunity to live such rich, meaningful lives in this community. I learn so much from your childeren every day!

Things that make me happy are: Books, bike rides, summer nights, spending time in the woods, laughing until I cry, learning explanations for things I've always wondered about, wondering about things, and dancing to funky live music.

 

 

 

                          

Heather Craig

Communications Coordinator/Parent

I am a Colorado native originally from Glenwood Springs. I moved to Boulder in 1999 and have been here ever since. I have been part of the Patchwork community as a parent for 4+ years and I am thrilled to now be part of the staff. I have an associates of arts degree and I have worked in many different office environments. I have been a CSR and Accounting Controller at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport and I have worked at the Public Defenders Office in Golden.  I have been home with my kids for the last 6 years and I can't image entering back into the working world anywhere but at Patchwork, a community that has supported my family in every way. My daughter , Amelia is in her second year in K-12 and my son, Logan will be in Toddlers with my nephew Thacher.

 

                     

                                                                                         Michele Craig Leonard (Mitch)

Substitute/Parent/Board Memeber

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 7 years both in the preschool and as director in the toddler program. I am expecting my second son this fall and I am looking forward to taking some time to spend with him and to be a part of Patchwork when I am needed. Thacher will be in the toddler program with hsi cusion Logan 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. 

 

 

 

Brenda Ilowit

Parent Education

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.