Compass Academy Staff
Marcia has worked in education for 24 years as teacher, instructional coach, director of curriculum and instruction, and as the Principal of a K-8 Charter school in Denver. She sees the power of a collaborative learning environment as being critical for both student and adult learning. In this environment, students are taught how to learn – not just what to learn. As a former Principal, and now as the Executive Director of Compass Academy, she would describe herself as one who leads with her heart and with her mind. Marcia believes that teaching and learning is a human endeavor. In her own words, “it is when we know and trust each other that relationships are formed and learning can happen. It is through intentional decisions about how we experience learning that we engage and become inspired to be all that we can be”.
Prior to becoming the Middle School Director at Compass Academy, Denise Thorne worked as a Spanish teacher in Denver, and as a Middle School Dean of students and School Director in Irving, Texas. Born and raised in Colorado, Denise could not be more excited to be back home working with students in Southwest Denver. She feels honored to continue her journey in education with a team of educators who work tirelessly to support the students at Compass Academy each day.
Prior to becoming the Senior Dean of Instruction at Compass Academy, Brandon was the principal of Downtown College Prep in San Jose, California. Before becoming principal He was a founding Humanities teacher for Downtown College Prep. He also spent six years as an eighth grade English teacher at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto, California. Brandon got his start in education in Denver where he was a reading specialist for two years at Edgewater Elementary School. He has also played the role of athletic director and summer school program coordinator. He is extremely excited to continue with the Compass Academy team and is looking forward to learning from the great people working at Compass.
Cathy received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wyoming. Cathy has taught at Compass for two years and is now entering her second year as Dean of Students. Cathy feels as though she was meant to be a part of Compass Academy. Her goal at Compass is to strengthen relationships with students that allow them to take risks, take their learning seriously and to the next level. She wants to make their learning experiences and their overall school experience fun and something they look forward to daily. Cathy grew up in Wyoming and loves the outdoors, playing golf in beautiful places and spending time with family and friends.
Alicia has taught in the Southwest Community of Denver for many years. Alicia went to the University of Oregon and majored in International Studies and Spanish. While there, she lived abroad in Chile. Following her time in Oregon, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona where she earned a Masters in Education and taught for two years with Teach For America. She is a Colorado native and loves to read, ski, bike, and spend time in the mountains with her family. Going into her 11th year in education and 4th at Compass, she is excited to support the ELD programming and biliteracy initiatives.
After graduating from the University of Denver in 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies, Billy joined City Year Denver and was on the inaugural team at Compass Academy. He fell in love with the students and the vision of the school and returned as a Team Leader during Compass’ second year. After his two years of service, Billy joined City Year as a staff member and served as the Learner and Leader Engagement Coordinator at Compass where he supported athletics, extracurricular activities, and 8th grade transition. Billy is currently the Director of Operations and is excited to help Compass teachers and staff continue to impact the lives of our students. When not at school, Billy enjoys camping, biking, snowboarding, and completing projects on his new home.
Bio coming soon.
Paulina is a proud mother to her son and daughter. She was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and moved with her family to Denver when she was 9 years old. Paulina graduated from Alameda High School in 2006. Before joining Compass, Paulina worked as a proactive and reliable student-focused office manager for a charter high school in Denver. She is skilled in working with a diverse group of people and has four years of experience keeping school offices running smoothly. Paulina strongly believes in Compass Academy’s vision and mission and is very excited to take on this role. She believes that building and maintaining strong relationships and partnerships in our Southwest Denver community is key to gaining trust in our community.
6th Grade Team
Sarah was born and raised a Southern Belle from Atlanta, Georgia, although she doesn’t have an accent. She packed up her car and moved to Denver after graduating with an undergrad in 2015 from University of North Georgia and has been in Denver for four years now. She has taught 6th grade Language Arts for two and a half years. In her spare time, Sarah likes hiking and enjoying nature, reading classical fiction, and snapping pictures with her camera. She is currently attending the University of Colorado - Denver for her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading and Writing. She believes in a safe, welcoming, and fun environment for kids to come into everyday. School is a home away from home, so she wants to make sure every person who enters her classroom feels comfortable and confident. As a Language Arts teacher, it is her goal to help her students discover a love of books, and expose them to a variety of experiences through literature.
Kim was born and raised in the Denver Metro area, and is proud to be serving the Denver community as a LatinX teacher of color. She attended the University of Colorado Denver where she received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education (K-6 licensure). She also received a minor in Human Development and Family Relations and an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. Kim’s experience at CU Denver was incredibly impactful and furthered her desire to teach students in urban settings. She was a part of the NxtGEN Student Teacher Residency program where she had the opportunity to complete a year-long residency in a 5th grade classroom. Kim strongly believes in a culturally and trauma responsive education where students are able to learn in a safe, fun, and equitable environment. As a 6th grade math teacher, it is Kim’s goal to help her students discover a love for mathematics while also achieving significant academic growth.
Mary Kate discovered her passion for teaching after serving with City Year New York in 2015. The following year, Mary Kate moved to Denver and received her teaching license through Rocky Mountain Prep's fellowship program. During her fellowship year, she took classes while teaching Social Studies and Reading to a diverse group of fourth graders. Mary Kate also has experience teaching 2nd-5th grade Science, English, and Math, and taught at an expeditionary learning school that prioritized student-led projects and fieldwork. Prior to City Year, Mary Kate graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2014 with a dual degree in Spanish and Latin American/Caribbean Studies. She developed her Spanish fluency while living and volunteering at a hospital in Cusco, Peru. As an educator, Mary Kate's goal is to stimulate passion and help students develop an appreciation for diversity by incorporating their own histories and unique personalities into social studies learning. In her free time, you can find Mary Kate kayaking on the water, skiing in the mountains, or cooking up a good meal at home!
Before joining the Compass Academy team, Alexandra taught 6th grade Science in Florida. She earned her degree in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences from the University of Florida. She has multiple years experience teaching art and engineering summer camp courses to elementary students. Her goal is to foster a creative and positive learning environment for the students of Compass Academy. She is eager to bring her passion for science into the classroom.
7th Grade Team
Sirak was born in Eritrea and moved to the United States in 1997 when he was three years old. He went to the University of Michigan and majored in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, with a minor in Urban Planning and Education Policy. After graduating, he worked to recruit racially-diverse teachers for school districts in the West Michigan area, as well as doing research on the importance of diversity in the school workforce. Sirak’s interest in teaching began when he applied to be a substitute teacher. After the first day of substituting, the school hired him as a long-term sub to teach 7th Grade English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. He moved from Michigan to Denver in 2018 when he joined the City Year Compass team, supporting Mrs. Kati’s 7th Grade Social Studies classroom. His love for 7th graders extended when he was hired as a Compass ELA teacher and is excited to start his first year of teaching at such a well-structured and truly loving school.
Sjoukje was born in France and came to Baltimore, Maryland when she was seven years old, and lived there until moving to Colorado in July 2018. In May 2005, she graduated from Washington College in Maryland with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, with certifications in elementary and secondary mathematics education. During her 4 years at WC, she was on the rowing and rugby teams. Sjoukje had been teaching in Westside Baltimore City for the last twelve years, all at the same school. Sjoukje is ecstatic about returning to Compass Academy for her second year of teaching 7th grade math. Her dog, Taz, who certified as a therapy animal, will be joining the Compass family a couple days a week to work with the students.
Katiria is ecstatic about returning to Compass Academy for her third year of teaching. Prior to joining the Compass Academy team, Katiria was the Head of Languages and Academic Coordinator for Actividades Formativas in Valencia, Spain. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Education from New Jersey City University (2008) and a Master of Arts in Creative Translation from the Universidad de Valencia (2010). Her passion for teaching, traveling, and learning about different cultures took her to South Korea in 2008 where she lived and taught EFL to primary school students. Afterwards, she moved on to Spain, which was her home for eight years. Katiria was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ and is extremely proud of her Puerto Rican heritage. In her free time she enjoys to spend time with her family and dog, garden, hike, read, listen to music, cook, and travel.
Laura was born in Dominican Republic and moved to North Carolina with her family when she was 3 years old. She has always been passionate about science and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Biology Pre Medicine, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A year after college she moved to Denver with her best friend on a whim and unexpectedly decided to be part of the education AmeriCorps Program- City Year. She completed a full year of service at Compass Academy Middle School where she discovered another passion- teaching. Laura is so excited to be the 7th grade science teacher because she wants students to love science as much as she does! Outside of school Laura loves her cat Rita, her plants and playing basketball.
8th Grade Team
Jessica Cook is a native Texan and grew up in Dallas before moving to Fort Worth to complete her degree in Theatre with a minor in Arts Administration. Following her graduation at TCU, Jessica joined Teach for America and taught 6th Grade World History at Uplift Infinity Middle School. While at Infinity, Jessica taught World History, US History, Algebra I, Algebra II, and some Theatre. In 2015, Jessica stepped out of the classroom and served Infinity’s campus as the Dean of Scholars for two years and has just finished serving as the MYP Dean of Academics for the past year. In her last year as dean, Jessica stepped back into the classroom to teach 8th grade US History and remembered how much she loved teaching, so she jumped in her car and moved to Denver to teach reading at Compass Academy! In her spare time, you can find Jessica with a book in her hand, hanging out with her family and The Monsters (as she calls her cats), or looking for adventures to go on!
Martin earned his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. He has spent the last three years working at Compass Academy as a Corps Member and a teacher. Prior to serving at Compass, he spent two years working in community centers around the Madison area. By the end of the year, Martin hopes all his students will be excited about learning real-life math application. He believes that everyone has the ability to succeed in math and knows they all will. In his spare time, he enjoys soccer, hiking, and the outdoors in general.
Audrey earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado. After college she traveled to Europe and the Middle East and then returned to Colorado to receive her Masters of Arts in Education and Human Development from the University of Colorado, Denver. Audrey is very excited to be entering her second year on the Compass Academy team and to contribute to the school’s vision as she focuses on including socio-emotional development into her social studies curriculum. Audrey’s goal is to work collaboratively with the educators at Compass Academy to meet the academic needs of all students. When not planning for upcoming lessons Audrey can often be found exploring the Rocky Mountains with her dog Penny.
Kyle is a founding teacher at Compass Academy and has taught 6th and 8th grade science during his three years at Compass. Before joining the team, Kyle taught 5th grade Math and Science and finished the Associate Teacher Program at Brooke Charter Schools, one of the highest performing schools in Massachusetts. During that year he learned how effective teacher collaboration can truly transform the classroom. Kyle grew up just outside Philadelphia and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. After college, Kyle served two years with City Year Boston; first as a City Year-AmeriCorps Member and then as a Team Leader. Through this volunteer work, he fell in love with urban education and became inspired to dedicate his time and energy to his students.
Sarah is a graduate of Regis University having received her undergraduate degree in Spanish Language & Literature and Secondary Education and her masters degree in Development Practice. She has a passion for sharing experiences and culture, and uses these opportunities to create growth, for both her and her students. Sarah is a native of Colorado and is looking forward to the opportunity to share her love of the state, the community, and the culture with her colleagues, students, and community. In her free time, you can find Sarah hanging out with her dogs, watching sports, or traveling with her husband.
Paula Chaparro was born in Durango Mexico, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico. Her family consists of her husband, her son and herself.
Paula has been working in DPS for 10 years as a para-professional, interventionist, and as a 3rd grade and Kindergarten teacher. She is also an independent facilitator in the Love and Logic program and has had the opportunity to work with families in Denver and Lafayette, Colorado for more than 4 years.
English Language Development Team
“Teacher Ana” was born in Houston, TX and has since lived in more places than she can count. As a graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Ana received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Behavioral Psychology. Ana has been in the education field for 15 years serving as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist, Special Education Teacher, English Teacher to Students of Other Languages, In-Home Therapist, and Parent Trainer. Most recently Teacher Ana has been utilizing technology to further student education by teaching remotely to students across the world. Ana believes in Compass’s philosophy of ensuring the education of the whole child.
Daylan was born and raised in Denver, Colorado; this is his second year teaching English Language Development at Compass Academy. He received his undergraduate degree in history and secondary education with an emphasis on english language development from Regis University (2016). Prior to joining the Compass Academy, Daylan worked on creating programs in the Adams 50 district that fostered growth in literacy for his ELL students. Daylan strongly believes in the Compass philosophy and uses it in and out of the classroom. His ultimate goal is to give students the opportunity to explore language and culture, to create different perspectives, and become critical thinkers in the real world. Outside of school, Daylan enjoys reading, drawing, listening to music, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Special Education / well-being Team
Before joining Compass Academy Jolene worked with the remarkable exceptional students at César Chávez Academy as the head of the Special Education Department where she received the DPS award for fun. Jolene grew up in Missouri and attended Colorado Christian University where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management. Jolene then continued her education and completed a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Urban Pedagogy. She is ecstatic about the opportunity to work with the students at Compass Academy because she enjoys shaping all aspects of each unique child. Her goals at Compass are to teach her students how to be global leaders and to find the path for success no matter the obstacles.
Stephen is a special educator in his 6th year after moving from California to continue teaching in Denver at Compass Academy. After finishing his undergraduate degree in English Lit. in 2012, he volunteered for City Year in San Antonio, TX. He continued his path in education in California, where he received a master’s degree in Special Education at Loyola Marymount University while teaching in San Jose, CA. Stephen gets out to the mountains on the weekends to do rock climbing, hike 14ers, and snowboard. When he’s inside, he likes to cook slow-cooker meals, solve brain-teasers & crosswords, write stories, and read non-fiction. So far, he has read 1,253,776 words in 16 books in 2019.
Carra is a Denver native who graduated from Denver North High School and studied Special Education at Adams State College in Alamosa, CO. She has worked in DPS for over 10 years with 7 years in Special Ed in mild-moderate, and severe profound classrooms and 3 years as an elementary school secretary. She has a 13 year old daughter who is in her 3rd year here at Compass Academy. In her free time she enjoys cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She is also a professional Ballet Folklorico Dancer and has toured Europe, Mexico, and many states in the US on multiple dance tours. She is excited to start this new journey with The Diverse Learners and be a Compass Lobo!
Henrietta is the mother of three daughters who are all married and have blessed her with five grandchildren. While raising her daughters she lived in Germany and traveled through Europe for six years. As her children grew up she decided to go back to school and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a Master’s degree in School Counseling. Henrietta is excited to continue her career at Compass Academy and focus on supporting students in many ways. She looks forward to offering a school counseling program that will provide students, parents, teachers, and staff a safe and accepting environment. Henrietta loves to give hugs and refers to all students as “hitas, hitos, mijos, and mijas”. Her goal at Compass is to get to know each student!
Bio Coming Soon.
Bio Coming Soon.
Lee joined Compass Academy after spending 9 years in the human service field. He spent most of that time as a case manager for adults with intellectual disabilities. In 2016 he looked to get into the teaching profession, he started at Manual High School as a Physical Education teacher at the high school and as a after school sports program coordinator at elementary and middle schools in the Five Points area of Denver. This will be Lee’s second year as the PE teacher here at Compass. He has his bachelor’s degree in Human Services, minor in Psychology and is in his second year at Metro State for his Physical Education certification. Lee enjoys all aspects of sports and has coached basketball at the high school and middle school level. He cares deeply about building meaningful relationships with the students at Compass Academy in hopes to build a lifetime love of being active. He uses his background in coaching and case management to build a class where his students both feel safe and valued while learning about respect and competition both on and off the field of life.
Bas was born and raised in The Netherlands and completed his Bachelors Degree in French, German and Marketing at the University of Salford in Manchester in the U.K. In 2004 he moved to Denver with his American wife. Bas worked in software and marketing management for almost 15 years, before deciding to follow his heart and be an artist. Prior to being an art teacher, he was a professional airbrush artist and graphic designer for 6 years, specializing in painting ice hockey goalie masks. In his spare time Bas is a cub scout pack leader. He plays hockey as a goalie and bowls in a non-competitive league once a week. Bas has two kids and a lot of animals at home. He’s very excited to be part of the Compass Academy team and to start sharing his passion and art experience with the students to help develop their creative minds.
City Year School Design & Improvement Division
Ryan grew up in rural Ohio and moved to Denver after living for several years in New Orleans. Ryan studied History and Economics in college, and then went on to pursue a Master’s in Educational Research and a Law degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Ryan has worked in the fields of child policy, civic education, and legal advocacy. He has had roles as special education teacher, program designer, and coach, most recently launching and leading the Diverse Learners Initiative at Teach For America. Ryan joined the Compass team because he believes that all children should be known as people and learners and should have access to an education that values their voice and all they have to offer the world. In his free time, Ryan enjoys hiking the Colorado mountains and traveling the world with friends and family.
Before joining Compass Academy, Nate worked as the head of diverse learner and special education support for Teach For America Bay Area. He grew up in Massachusetts and attended Colorado College where he majored in Sociology and minored in Film Studies. Nate then continued his journey west and moved to the Bay Area in California to work in schools as a City Year-AmeriCorps Member, a High School Special Education Teacher, and a Teacher Coach. Nate is thrilled to be at Compass Academy because of the school’s focus on making sure every single student feels supported and proud of what makes them unique and able to hit their own learning goals.
Before joining Compass Academy, Alexis worked as an operations manager at a mid-sized law firm in Columbus, Ohio. She managed several departments and focused on improving processes, finding solutions to tough problems, and ensured successful outcomes for her team. She studied Political Science and Spanish as an undergraduate, and later went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration at INCAE Business School in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Alexis is ecstatic about transitioning to the education sector and effecting positive change with the amazing team at Compass Academy.
As a City Year alumni, former Special Education teacher, and high school designer at Compass Academy, Celine will be joining the School Design and Improvement team as School Design Director. Her focus is the completion of the L&L project, which is to see L&L - an integrated, tailored, competency-based Social Emotional and Academic Development model - from a pilot to a meaningful product that can have an impact on high need schools.
Paola Deliz Félix Encarnación is a powerful, thoughtful, and intentional leader dedicated to educational equity. Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Félix Encarnación has always been passionate about learning and helping those around her share that passion. As a public school student, she attended a diverse Milwaukee Public School, graduating first in her class. Following high school, Encarnación received the Outstanding Scholar Award and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she earned a dual degree in Spanish and Community Education and Engagement. In 2017, she completed her Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and Organizational Communication from Northeastern University.
Félix Encarnación is inspired by the words of Audre Lorde "if she dares to be powerful and use her strength in service it becomes less and less important whether she is afraid." As such she persists to make education accessible to youth and young adults in Milwaukee. Félix Encarnación served two years as an AmeriCorps member for City Year Milwaukee in predominantly Latino K-8 schools, where she led teams as tutors and role models in the role of Impact Manager. In 2015, she was honored as the University of Wisconsin of Milwaukee Graduate of the Last Decade for her work in the Milwaukee community and for her commitment to supporting Latinos in Higher Education. She continued to support education access and equity as an Impact Director for City Year Milwaukee. Most recently Félix Encarnación has stepped into the newly created role of Senior Director of Network for School Improvement.
E Her Vang is from Milwaukee, WI and the proud product of the non-profit organizations that served her family and community when she was young. Those experiences sparked her passion to give back to disadvantaged populations. This passion motivated her to achieve a Master's in Public Health from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee focusing on Community and Behavioral Health Promotion. E is also a proud alum of City Year Jacksonville 2014-2016. Service really shaped her career goals and released her potential to become a bridge between communities in need and resource accessibility/availability. Currently, she is involved with many volunteer opportunities like the Hlub Foundation, Hmong Young Professionals of Milwaukee and Komen Conversations for the Cure. During her free time, you can find her snuggling and spending time with my 3 adorable nieces, going for a run or bargain shopping. A fun fact about E is that she can be overly competitive in sports, board games and contests so if you want to win, you want me to be on your team! E is super excited to be a part of the team and hope to bring energy, innovation and fun to this position.
Born and raised in Parker, Colorado, Emily earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Colorado State University. After graduating in 2015, Emily and her twin sister Katy moved to Florida to serve as Corps Members with City Year Jacksonville. At the end of her first year she became a Team Leader and later moved to Boston to be part of Team Care Force, which leads corporate community service events across the US. After her Senior Corps Year Emily had the opportunity to be on the 2017 Summer Academy Team. After serving at Summer Academy, Emily returned to Denver to be near her boyfriend, also a City Year alum. In her free time Emily enjoys reading, watching crime dramas, or playing Legos with her 5 year old nephew. Emily is excited to join the SDD and be part of the City Year family again!
CITY YEAR AMERICORPS TEAM
At Compass Academy, a team of City Year-AmeriCorps Members serve every day and all school year as mentors and tutors providing both targeted and school-wide interventions to serve the holistic needs of our students.
Our 2019-2020 City Year-AmeriCorps Team: