Middle School Leadership

Leah Bock

Head of Middle School

leah.bock@galsdenver.org

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@galsdenver.org

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 Special Education

karen.davidson@galsdenver.org

Karen is thrilled to be the Director of Special Education at GALS and the BOYS School. 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.

Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT

Director of Counseling & Wellness

julie.dolin@galsdenver.org

Originally from New York City and a long time resident of Boulder, Julie is delighted to begin her 6th year at GALS. Each morning as the Denver skyline reveals itself during her morning commute, she feels her urban roots are watered.  Julie holds a BA in English from Vassar College, an MA in Dance/Movement Therapy from Naropa University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor.  She maintains a private psychotherapy practice, has been Adjunct Faculty in Naropa University’s Somatic Counseling Psychology program and worked in day treatment and hospital settings.  Julie is passionate about making mental health services accessible and integrated into the educational setting, as well as supporting social and emotional wellness through body-centered, mindfulness and expressive arts therapies.  She is the proud mama of two sons, age 21 and 15.

Dolores Schaack

Director of Operations

dolores.schaack@galsdenver.org

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

Alfredo Cervantes

6th Grade Science

alfredo.cervantes@galsdenver.org

This is Alfredo’s 2nd year at GALS. Prior to GALS, he graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology. He then attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine and received a MA in Medical Science. He spent the majority of his childhood living in West Denver and lived in El Paso, TX for his teenage years. He moved back to Denver at the age of sixteen and has lived here since. He married his high school sweetheart from El Paso and has two daughters, one of which is attending GALS HS. He has always wanted a career working with children and science, so becoming a science teacher is a natural fit.

Jen Derosby

6th Grade GALS Series Teacher

jennifer.derosby@galsdenver.org

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

6th Grade Math

cara.hall@galsdenver.org

Sandra Ibarra

6th Grade Language Arts

sandra.ibarra@galsdenver.org

Sally Ryerson

6th Grade Social Studies

sally.ryerson@galsdenver.org

Sally Ryerson was born and raised in the beautiful mountains of Vail, CO, which explains her love for skiing, mountain biking, and nature in general. She attended Bates College in Lewiston Maine, where she Nordic skied competitively and studied Teacher Education, Positive Psychology, and Spanish. After college, Sally taught at a traditional middle school but wanted to teach at a school that incorporated movement. Thereafter, she found GALS and is beyond thrilled to be active all day, teach Social Studies, and create meaningful connections with all of her students!

Molly Smemo

7th Grade Social Studies

molly.smemo@galsdenver.org

Danielle Ennis

7th Grade Language Arts

danielle.ennis@galsdenver.org

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

7th Grade Science

jared.rankins@galsdenver.org

Julie Thornton

7th Grade Math

julie.thornton@galsdenver.org

Sam Casanova

8th Grade Social Studies

sam.casanova@galsdenver.org

Mairead Case

8th Grade Language Arts

mairead.case@galsdenver.org

Eric Messerli

8th Grade Math

eric.messerli@galsdenver.org

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!

Judith Stroman

7th Grade GALS Series

judith.stroman@galsdenver.org

Katie Wittenberg

6-12 Front Office & After School Activities Coordinator

katie.wittenberg@galsdenver.org

Maggie Dickman

8th Grade GALS Series Teacher

maggie.dickman@galsdenver.org

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.stanley@galsdenver.org

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.

Student Support Team

Julia Bent

Special Education

julia.bent@galsdenver.org

Amber Brydon

School Psychologist

amber.brydon@galsdenver.org

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, LPCC, R-DMT

Lead Counselor

yolanda.dandridge@galsdenver.org

Yolanda Dandridge is a registered psychotherapist and researcher who has committed 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.fishman@galsdenver.org

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.

Ashleigh Davis

High School Counselor

ashleigh.davis@galsdenver.org

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.

Tim Lloyd

GALS Special Education

tim.lloyd@galsdenver.org

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.

Lori Riley

SPED Liaison / Lead Paraprofessional

lori.riley@galsdenver.org

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.

Michelle Shea

GALS SPED

michelle.shea@galsdenver.org

Michelle grew up in Connecticut and has been living in Colorado for close to 10 years. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and an MA in Special Education from the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to GALS Michelle completed two years of AmeriCorps at Mile High Youth Corps, where she built trails, used a chainsaw and provided the Denver Metro area with environmental education. She then went on to become a Denver Math Fellow at DCIS Montbello teaching 6th grade math in a unique small group setting. When outside of the classroom, Michelle can be found exploring the city and mountains she has grown to love so much!