Middle School Leadership

Leah Bock

Head of Middle School


Leah Bock will be returning to GALS in 2020 as the Head of the Middle School.  From 2018-2020, she served as the High School Principal at New Legacy Charter School in Aurora.  Prior to that, she helped found the GALS High School in 2014, where she worked as a math teacher and assistant principal.  Leah holds a Master’s degree in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado-Boulder and has a Bachelor’s Degree from Luther College in proof-oriented mathematics and gender studies. In 2011, she won the Mile High Teacher of the Year award. Before she began her career in teaching, Leah spent time in East Africa working at an HIV/AIDS organization, lived in northern California as an economic justice activist and yoga instructor, and owned a bakery. When she’s not working, she loves running and spending time with her family at home.

Adam Betancourt

Middle School Assistant Principal


Adam Betancourt was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, which explains why his spirit animal is a lizard.  He spent four years in Durango, CO before moving to the Denver metro area. He is joining GALS middle school as the Assistant Principal of Instruction. He comes from teaching 4 years at a charter school in North Denver. His passions include trail running, eating, skiing, traveling, rock climbing, spending time in the sun, and cooking. One of his favorite foods are huevos con nopales. Yummy!

Karen Davidson

Director of Inclusion


Karen is thrilled to be the Director of Inclusion at GALS. She is a native of Denver and loves to read and travel. Karen received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Denver and her Master's degree in Special Education from Metropolitan State University. She has worked for DPS, Adams 14, Children's Hospital Colorado, and as an independent educational consultant. When not at GALS, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband, 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

Dolores Schaack

Director of Operations


Dolores was born and raised in Liberia, West Africa. She moved to the United States for college and studied General and Religious Education at Southern Methodist College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Dolores moved to Denver and attended the University of Denver where she majored in Business Administration. Prior to joining the GALS team, she worked as a Business Manager for another Denver Charter School, and a Sr. Administrative Coordinator for a laboratory products distributor, also in Denver. Dolores has a son with whom she enjoys relaxing and hanging out in her free time.

Middle School Staff

Maryanna Brunkhorst

6th Grade ELA Teacher


Amanda Christos

8th Grade ELA Teacher


Jen Derosby

6th Grade GALS Series Teacher


Jen is so proud to be in her 18th year of teaching and learning. She spent her first ten years at an urban charter school here in Denver and this is her 8th year at GALS. She received her teaching license from Metropolitan College of Denver in Secondary Social Studies and received her BA in liberal arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Prior to this year, Jen taught 6th and 7th grade Social Studies and GALS series in both the middle school and high school, served as the 6-12 Dean for 4 years, and most recently was the Assistant Principal of Special Programs. She has a passion for teaching about issues of social justice and believes that GALS changes the way we see education and the way we can see each other. She is a 2008-09 United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum teacher fellow, a member of the Facing History and Ourselves teacher advisory board and 2006 Denver Mile High Teacher.

Cara Hall

7th & 8th Grade Social Studies


Molly Smemo

6th & 7th Grade Social Studies


Danielle Ennis

7th Grade Language Arts


Danielle has been a part of the GALS community in various roles since 2016. She joins the middle school teams as the 7th grade Language Arts teacher and lacrosse and basketball coach. Danielle received a Bachelors in Journalism and English from the University of Connecticut where she captained club ultimate frisbee and wrote for the sports department of the school newspaper (She is so thrilled to start the GALS student magazine). Danielle also teaches ski lessons, loves to rollerblade and swim in the ocean, plays endless sports, and—in her rare moments of sitting still—enjoys writing.

Jared Rankins

6th & 7th Grade Science


Julie Thornton

6th & 7th Grade Math


Eric Messerli

8th Grade Math


Eric has a BA in Mathematics from the University of Vermont and an MA in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Colorado. With 20+ years in education, Eric has worked educating youth in neighborhood and charter schools, a private school, and an outdoor education center. He has had many roles during this time, including teaching and administrative positions. He is married and has two girls (Ellie & Cady) and one very large dog (Moose). He spends fall and spring weekdays and weekends helping coach his girls' soccer teams. He says Thursday is the best day of the week, as that is the day he plays ice hockey!

Rachael Riley

6th & 8th Grade Science Teacher


Alyssa Sanchez

6th Grade Math Teacher


Judith Stroman

7th Grade GALS Series


Katie Wittenberg

6-12 Front Office & After School Activities Coordinator


Katie Clark

8th Grade Math


Originally from Colorado, Katie earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver and her teaching credential from the University of Colorado, Denver. She spent her first three years teaching at Joan Farley Academy in Denver, before moving to Los Angeles to learn to surf and continue her career. In Los Angeles, Katie taught for six years in grades six through twelve at Ollin University Prep and earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction through Concordia University, Irvine. Katie is excited to be starting her second year at GALS high school, where she will support seniors as they develop their capstone projects and support teachers in their growth through instructional coaching. Outside of school, she loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, traveling and running.

Maggie Dickman

8th Grade GALS Series Teacher


Maggie Dickman is so incredibly excited to be teaching the 8th grade GALS Series class. Having attended a women's college, Maggie is thrilled at the opportunity to work to empower the young women of the Denver community. Maggie graduated from Scripps College with a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and then went on to the University of Colorado Denver for a Masters degree in Curriculum and Pedagogy. Before coming to GALS, Maggie taught 2nd and 3rd grade at AXL Academy in Aurora, CO. Born and raised in Colorado, Maggie is grateful to be able to work in this community. Outside of school, Maggie loves to travel, camp, hike, snowboard, play in the water and generally be in the great outdoors. Ideally with a dog, of course!

John Stanley

Data Manager


John is originally from New York, but has travelled and lived around the world. After earning his BS - Engineering (Clarkson University) and MBA (University of Michigan), he enjoyed a 20+ year career in managing manufacturing operations in the U.S. and abroad. In 2012, John decided to leave the manufacturing industry and become a teacher. He earned his Master of Education degree with specialization in Urban Education from Regis University. John joined the GALS team as a math teacher in 2013. When he isn't number crunching, John loves being in the mountains of Colorado skiing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, or camping.

Jasmine Wynter

Visual Arts Teacher


Student Support Team

Carmen Ramos



Cendy Guerrero



Christina Campbell

School Psychologist


Claire Palius

Social Worker/Couselor


Ella Jackson



Hannah Sallmann

Counseling Intern


Jax Faggan



Mercedes Chacon



Noah Jackson



Sarah Covey

GALS SPED / Inclusion Team


Shanice Stewart

Inclusion Team


Amber Brydon

School Psychologist


Amber is the school psychologist at Girls Athletic Leadership School. She is thrilled to be part of the Inclusion Team, working together to support our students’ growth. Prior to coming to GALS, Amber worked as a school psychologist and MTSS Coordinator near Chicago. Amber graduated with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Coaching from Miami University. She earned her Ed.S. from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Amber enjoys running, hiking, biking, and spending time with her family, Spencer, Finley and Owen.

Yolanda Dandridge MA, LPC, R-DMT

Director of Counseling & Wellness


Yolanda Dandridge is committed to her career towards integrating Psychology and the Arts as an approach to emotional health stability. Yolanda has a master’s degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology, specializing in body and movement therapy. She has facilitated therapeutic and empowerment groups for over 10 years, addressing areas related to body paralyzation and phobias associated with: attachment styles, life transformations, women’s health, traumas, illness and community health. In, particular Yolanda’s master paper “Unveiling the Embodied Riddle - The Role of Dance/ Movement Therapy in the Black Body’s Developmental Experience” has started the conversation addressing the black body, and intergenerational trauma and how dance/movement therapy application can support the awakening, healing and re-educating the black body from the state of paralyzation to mobilization through the lens of developmental psychology. She also was a professional dancer for over 15 years, trained extensively in West African Dance, under the direction of Melvin Deal, African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. Yolanda’s philosophy “movement and body awareness are major components to healthy psychosocial development which support unity between the body, mind and spirit, as one.”

Ilana Fishman

GALS Special Education


Ilana comes to Colorado from the best city in the world, Philadelphia! She received her Bachelors in Psychology at Temple University and her Masters in Special Education at Arcadia University. She lives in Denver with her husband (a local) and their 2 daughters. Ilana has taught for over 20 years, and has taught every age from pre-school through Adult Education, and has enjoyed each age group immensely. When not teaching, or dragging her children to the mountains or bike trails Ilana loves to relax with a good book and espresso.

Tim Lloyd

GALS Special Education


A native Coloradan, Tim has also lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Tim became inspired by adventurous social experiences when he was a teenager. Inspired by friends, novels, and music, he found insight in addressing and, at times, embracing life’s unforeseen challenges. This resolve stuck with him through college, leading him to get his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Tim quickly saw a need and developed a deep passion for working with adolescents of divergent backgrounds. He eventually went on to earn his MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver. In his spare time, Tim works out, makes music, and explores uncommon, often illogical, creative ideas. He also loves/hates exploring Colorado and the West with his family in their 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon, responding to its frequent breakdowns, as a paradigm of life itself.

Ashleigh Davis, MA

School Counselor


Ashleigh Davis is in her second year as a school counselor and first year at GALS, after working as a guest teacher for GALS, she fell in love with the philosophy and made it her mission to be a part of the organization. Originally from sunny San Diego, CA, Ashleigh received her BA in Communication from Cal State University San Marcos, while there she ran the 100H, 400H & 4x100 relay. After spending a short time in the Town of Newburgh, New York raising her daughter, she was bit by the education bug and went back to school to receive her MA in School Counseling from Capella University. Denver, CO is no foreign place for Ashleigh, she and her family spent countless summers and holidays here visiting extended family. Ashleigh is thrilled to be living here and to call Denver, CO home! In her free time Ashleigh enjoys tending to her urban garden, roller skating and spending time with her daughter Olivia enjoying the beautiful outdoors and visiting museums.

Sollita Lucero, MA, LSCW Candidate

Mental Health Counselor


Hello, my name is Sollita Lucero, and I am very excited to become a part of the GALS Family. I graduated from the University of Denver in 2017 with my Masters of Social Worker Degree. I have several years of experience working in community mental health, specifically with adolescents. I have experience in residential treatment and psychiatric hospitals. I also have a private practice focusing on athletes and their mental health. I operate from a trauma informed perspective. I believe it is important to acknowledge and process through challenging life experiences to create a space of healing. I believe in the holistic approach to include important people in one’s life such as family, school officials, peers and others to help explore the feelings, emotions and behaviors that one wants to work on. I am a person who loves to be active and move a lot. I am very goofy and sassy. I am a former collegiate athlete who enjoys playing sports in my free time as my coping skill. I play flag football, softball, basketball, and I definitely love to snowboard. Currently, I am learning how to box, and hopefully, once this pandemic passes, I will begin to compete. If you want to find me outside of work, I am probably at the boxing gym. When the chance to work at GALS presented itself to me, I was ecstatic. I can't wait to really begin working with students, staff and families via zoom and hopefully in person someday soon!

Lori Riley

SPED Liaison / Lead Paraprofessional


Originally from Los Angeles, Lori found her way to Colorado via Texas and Florida. She attended Florida Southern College where she received a BS in Business Management. Lori has worked for Denver Public Schools since 2010 and has been with GALS since 2016. What started out to be a personal mission to learn about our education system, has since turned into a true passion for working with kids. She has served in various roles throughout her time in education and is currently part of the Inclusion Support Team and is also a GALS parent. In Lori’s spare time, she enjoys hot yoga, walking, paddleboarding and cooking, and is especially passionate about traveling, and spending time with her two daughters.