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our history

our history

Founded in 2010, SOAR is built on the premise that we should “expect more” from our public schools

SOAR is a public elementary charter school committed to providing exceptional educational opportunities to students in Far Northeast Denver. SOAR offers an innovative, holistic approach to education that includes an extended school day, an academically engaging curriculum, a focus on the development of social and emotional competencies, and a deep commitment to the arts.

In the 2015-2016 school year SOAR enters its sixth year serving the Far Northeast Denver community and its second year at full capacity, serving approximately 453 kindergarten through 5th grade students

our mission & guiding principles

our mission

The mission of SOAR is to provide students of all backgrounds and performance levels with access to a balance of rigorous academics, social instruction, and expanded opportunities. SOAR empowers children to become complete people who make informed, deliberate decisions and lead socially responsible, productive lives.

our guiding principles

We develop habits of systems thinking
We work with and are responsive to our families and the community
We foster the health and well-being of our students and families
We cultivate intellectual and academic growth
We nurture the development of analytical and critical thinking
We develop social-emotional attributes and skills
We cultivate creative competencies

core elements

core elements

vigorous & engaging academic instruction commitment to the arts social & emotional learning (sel)learn more »

our team

our team

School Administration

Head of School – Laurie Godwin


Director of Development & School Operations – Sonia Sisneros (ssisneros@soardenver.org)

Prior to SOAR Sonia worked in the Denver nonprofit community for around 15 years. Her work in nonprofit was in family advocacy, child protection and most recently anti-violence research. Her experience is in providing representation and services to low income communities. For her work in education, she is driven to create a more sustainable social environment with new ways of thinking about education and best practices in schools. SOAR is the venue for which she can combine her beliefs around equity with her business management experience. She attended business school at the University of Denver and in 2015 she earned her law degree. In addition, she has completed DU’s Leadership and Organizations program in Philanthropic/Nonprofit Management. To better understand what she will need to lead in education she applied for and was accepted into the highly competitive 2014-15 Catapult Leader Fellowship Cohort. This is a two-year program for which she will earn her Principal’s License.

Director of Academics – Jessica Welch  (jwelch@soardenver.org)

Jessica Welch grew up in New Mexico, where she earned a B.A. in Spanish Literature and Music at the University of New Mexico.  She then worked in music education for several years, including three years in Tanzania, where she co-founded a community arts center. She returned to the U.S to complete a Master’s Degree in Mind, Brain, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which deepened her belief in the power of effective education to spark social change. She has worked in Denver area charter schools for the past five years in both teaching as well as in administration. She is excited to be entering her third year with the SOAR team. In her free time, she maintains a small private violin studio, reads, and runs.

School Social Worker – Gina Aguglia

Student Support Coordinator – Heather Quintana (hquintana@soardenver.org)

 Academic Coordinator- Olga Pagan (opagan@soardenver.org)

After earning her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Yale University, Olga taught English in Venezuela for a year, then returned to the states to earn her Master’s in Elementary Bilingual Education from Stanford. She is thrilled enter her 3rd year here at SOAR with an exciting new group of 5th graders. Outside the classroom, Olga coaches gymnastics and basketball, and loves to sing and dance!

School Office Staff

Office Coordinator – Araceli Quezada-Rodriguez  (aquezada@soardenver.org)

I have worked with SOAR since 2012, initially as the Office Manager at SOAR@Oakalnd. I moved to SOAR@GVR in 2014 and immediately enjoyed my work with families, teachers and students.  I truly enjoy working at the front desk because allows for me to support everyone and that is what is most important to me.  Before working with SOAR, I worked in the Oakland Elementary School office and prior to that I was at the Montebello High School office. Living and working in our community has enabled me to get to know a lot of the families in our area. I enjoy seeing students and their families when I am out with my own family.

I am from Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. While visiting Colorado 19 years ago I fell in love with the Mile High City and decided to make it my home. My husband and I have two children. Our daughter attended DPS schools and our son is attending DSST@GVR.  We are very proud to call the Far Northeast area home.

When I am not at work you can find me going to the movies, taking road trips and once in while enjoying sometime in the mountains.

I love the work I’ve done at SOAR and I can’t wait for the new school year to start J!


Operations Coordinator – Lacei Martinez  (lmartinez@soardenver.org)

Lacei joined SOAR in 2013 and comes to us with a blended background in employee records management, customer service and day to day business operations. She grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Denver in 2010. When she’s not at SOAR, she spends time with her husband & their two Boston Terriers; taking road trips, exploring Colorado & spending time with family.

Health Para-Professional  & Front desk Suport – Dena Samuels (dsamuels@soardenver.org)


Director of ITS – Christopher Landis (clandis@soardenver.org)

SOAR Gifted and Talented

Amy Dougherty (adougherty@soardenver.org)

Amy Dougherty has taught at SOAR@Oakland for three years and is happy to now be part of the GVR community! Amy joined SOAR after spending 4 years teaching third and fourth grade in Aurora. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Language, Literacy, and Cultures and earned her teaching license at the University of Colorado at Denver. Amy loves the Rocky Mountains and spends as much time hiking, camping, and four-wheeling as she can. She and her husband Shane live in Thornton with their beautiful baby, their dog Jada, and their two cats.

Flex Teachers

Alison Brandl (abrandl@soardenver.org)

Alie is lucky to have been born and raised in colorful Colorado. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in May 2014 with her degree in Elementary Education and her elementary teaching license. She loves painting her nails, playing with her pet snake, reading, and going to the gym.

Lucile Detwiler (ldetwiler@soardenver.org)

Lucile has a BFA in Art Education from CSU Pueblo and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction: Children’s Literature from Penn State. She has taught Art for 5 years K-12 and has worked with children most of her life. She has lived in many states as well as on Okinawa Japan where she got married to her husband, who was also a Marine. She settled in Colorado 20 years ago with her husband and 2 sons. When not teaching, she loves art, kayaking, reading and being with her family.

Lily Wool


Arts Program Teachers

Visual Arts – Jennifer Russo (jrusso@soardenver.org)

Jennifer knew she wanted to be an art educator by the time she entered middle school, when she began working as a teacher’s assistant in the art classroom. Her strong passion for fostering creativity in children and her appreciation for art history and varied media have helped fuel her career. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Nazareth College, and went on to receive her Master of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is entering her 15th year of teaching. She lives in Washington Park with her husband Eric, their children, Connor and Elise, and their dog, Gizmo. She enjoys hiking, shopping, and creating art with her children.

Performing Arts: Dance – Mike Mestas (mmestas@soardenver.org)

Michael Mestas is an instructor of “Breakology” at SOAR. Breakology is the study of “breaking on the break” as it pertains to African diaspora cypher dances (dances done in a circle). Breakology synthesizes practically, philosophically, and historically, b-boyin/girlin, hip hop social and traditional dances, and rhythm and dance from Guinea West Africa. He has traveled to Guinea to pursue cultural and language studies and relationship creation and building.

Performing Arts: Music – Yuzo Nieto (ynieto@soardenver.org)

Yuzo’s passion for music and teaching began at a young age, while hanging out with his nieces and nephews. He earned a BA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in poetry and a minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. He obtained his teaching license through the Stanley British Primary Intern Program, where he began his MA in Educational Psychology from UCD. He currently lives in his solar-powered house with his wife Simone, daughter Zora, cat Cleo, dog Beatrix, and son. He enjoys writing educational children’s songs and directs an all-original Afro Beat and Latin ensemble.


Visual Arts – Christie Cline

Science/Social Studies

Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd Grade – Erika Lopez (elopez@soardenver.org)

Erika was born and raised in southern California and it was there where she completed her B.A. in International Studies from the University of California, San Diego. She moved to Denver, Colorado in the fall of 2009 and to pursue her Master’s in Urban Education from the University of Denver through the Colorado Boettcher Teacher Residency. She taught 3rd grade in the Mapleton School District in Thornton, Colorado before joining the SOAR team! She loves sports, kickboxing, hanging out with her family and traveling whenever possible.

2nd & 3rd Grade: Rebecca Williams (Becky) (rwilliams@soardenver.org)

Becky Williams is a fourth generation Colorado native. She is a college graduate of The University of Northern Colorado. She majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis of Early Childhood Education and Licensure. Becky has worked in various school settings as well as different age groups ranging from infant to third grade. She is now entering her sixth year of teaching and is excited to be apart of the SOAR team. In her free time she likes to enjoy the outdoors as well as play with her two year old dog.

4th & 5th Grade: Lauren Pope (lpope@soardenver.org)

Marlie was born in Maine and grew up eating lobster, snowboarding, and ocean kayaking. After studying Sociology at the University of Vermont, she fell in love with teaching while working as an English teacher in Thailand. Before her move to Denver this summer, she had been living in Guadalajara, Mexico for the past 6 years teaching 4th and 5th grade in an International School. She has completed a Master’s in Education with a concentration in International Teaching and believes lots of laughter is essential in the classroom. In her free time, she loves to travel, garden, and discover new restaurants with her husband, Miguel.


Classroom Teacher

Jennifer Casagranda  (jcasagranda@soardenver.org)

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and moved to Montana to attend Montana State University where she earned a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. She is currently finishing up her master’s degree in Urban Education and Early Childhood Literacy. This is her third year at SOAR and she is excited for the opportunity to teach 1st grade this year! Outside of teaching she enjoys spending time with her dog Ellie and her family, traveling, spinning, skiing and relaxing in the sun.

Amanda Davis (adavis@soardenver.org)

Amanda graduated from Metropolitan State University with a degree in Special Education; earning a dual license in Special Education and Elementary Education. Amanda’s one of the Kindergarten teachers at SOAR. She is very excited for her 4th year teaching! Amanda is a native Coloradan and she loves everything Colorado has to offer. If she isn’t in the classroom teaching you can find her in the great outdoors with her husband hiking, golfing and skiing.

Rachel Schreier (rschreier@soardenver.org)

Rachel grew up in North Carolina and earned a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. After graduating from college, she moved to Japan, becoming the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at a children’s international school. Rachel returned to the U.S. in 2010 to pursue her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. This is her sixth year of teaching and her 4th year at SOAR.


Kathryn Thompson (kthompson@soardenver.org)

Kathryn Thompson is a retired college professor, grandmother of two SOAR students, and aspiring jewelry designer. She is a Denver native and a Green Valley Ranch resident. Kathryn holds an MBA from Regis University with an emphasis in Health Policy. Since retiring, Kathryn has had a strong desire to share her experience in a positive way and believes she can partner with the team at SOAR to help our children be the best they can be.

Derek Begun (dbegun@soardenver.org)


Molly Parelman (mparelman@soardenver.org)



Linda Cohan  (lcohan@soardenver.org)

Linda Cohan is originally from Houston, Texas, but grew up in The Hague, Holland. After graduating from the American International School of The Hague, she returned to Texas to pursue her degree in elementary education. She is a graduate of the University of Houston. In 1989, Linda moved with her family from Houston to Cortez, Colorado, then later on to Denver. In 1993, she received her master’s degree in Special Education, Severe Communication Needs. Linda has worked in Denver as a special education, and literacy teacher for many years. She continues to live in Denver with her husband and three children, all of whom live nearby. They all enjoy the wonders of living here, including hiking, climbing the fourteeners, and especially, distance running.

1st Grade

Classroom Teacher

Emily Caquelin (ecaquelin@soardenver.org)

Emily graduated from Colorado State University in 2010 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She then obtained her teaching license from Metropolitan State College of Denver where she joined the Center for Urban Education. Prior to joining SOAR she lived in Livorno, Italy to and taught English at the British School. During her free time, Emily enjoys hiking with her dog, Zeus. Emily also enjoys reading, traveling, and baking. She loves being around her family and friends and appreciates exploring the beautiful state of Colorado!

Laura Osterman  (losterman@soardenver.org)

Originally from upstate New York, Laura spent the past two years working as a Primary Teacher Trainer at a rural school in The Gambia, West Africa with the Peace Corps. Prior to her time abroad, she was a founding educator at Growing Up Green Charter School (GUGCS) in Long Island City, NY, where she taught Kindergarten. Laura’s qualifications include more than 10 years of experience working in education, a Masters of Arts in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She thrilled to be living in Colorado and is looking forward to exploring her new home.

Lyndsey Hilbun  (lhilbun@soardenver.org)

Lyndsey is a Colorado native from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and Family Sciences. Upon graduation, she taught first grade in an inner-city school in Durham, NC, and soon returned to Colorado to teach at SOAR. She enjoys spending time with her dog, Cooper and taking in everything Colorado has to offer from the city to the mountains.


ErinJean Jewell-Patrick (epatrick@soardenver.org)

Erinjean Jewell Patrick is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and a proud supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers! Ej went to college at Arizona State University and earned a degree in Musical Theatre Performance. After performing nationally, Ej went back to school to receive her Masters in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York and begin working as a Teaching Artist in New York City. Realizing her love for arts integration, Erinjean joined Teach for America to obtain her license in Special Education here in Denver. She loves exploring Denver, meeting new people, traveling and supporting the Theatre community in Denver.

2nd Grade

Classroom Teacher

Emily Achilles (eachiles@soardenver.org)

Emily is from New England and is very excited to be working at SOAR in Denver. After working at SOAR@Oakland for the past two years, she is eager and ready to work with the students in Green Valley Ranch.In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading, watching sports and relaxing in the beautiful outdoors.

Annie Monaghan (amonaghan@soardenver.org)


Ryan Nielsen (rnielsen@soardenver.org)

Ryan graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA in 2006 with a Bachelor degree in Philosophy/Theology, a minor in Music, and a multiple-subject teaching credential. He moved to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to teach middle school math before returning to California to teach 2nd grade in the San Diego area. Before joining SOAR Ryan taught two years in South Korea alongside his wife, Katie. After three years teaching for SOAR in K, 1st and 2nd grades, he is excited to teach 2nd grade again! In his free time Ryan enjoys playing guitar, adventuring with his wife and son, playing any sport, traveling, and cheering for the San Francisco 49ers.


Paige Buckley (pbuckey@soardenver.org)

Paige was born in Warren County, New Jersey and graduated from Misericordia University in Dallas, PA. After college, she moved to Colorado and has been here for four years. Paige has been teaching for three years. She has two dogs and lives with her husband in Lakewood.

3rd Grade

Classroom Teacher

Helen Farran


Jessica Metzler (jmetzler@soardenver.org)

Jessica is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools and is very excited to be working for such a great school like SOAR in her hometown. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she earned a degree in Political Science. Before joining SOAR she taught preschool and kindergarten at a school in southwest Denver. When she is not teaching, she can be found exploring the mountains, learning to fish and spending time with her two dogs Molly and Chica.

Kahea Zeitz (kzeitz@soardenver.org)

Kahealani (Kahea) Seitz is from Aiea, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. She received her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Communication with a minor in Anthropology from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Her passion for education also brought her to Teach for America and SOAR. Kahea is currently finishing her Master’s degree from UC Denver in Urban Education. Kahea can be found in nearby movie theaters because watching movies is one of her favorite pastimes, along with reading.


Amy Scheffler


4th Grade

Classroom Teacher

Erin Radigan (eradigan@soardenver.org)

Erin was born and raised in Columbus, OH, before moving to California to attend Stanford University, where she received a degree in Human Biology with a concentration in Child Development. She then enrolled in the Stanford Teacher Education Program where she earned her Master’s degree in Education. Erin moved to Colorado in 2013, and is in her second year teaching at SOAR for the 2014-15 school year. Outside of school, Erin enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, running, baking, painting nails, and exploring all of the awesome outdoor adventures Colorado has to offer!

Kate Colson (kcolson@soardenver.org)

Kate was born and raised in Wisconsin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Post graduation she has taught Southeast Asian refugee children at a Milwaukee Public Charter School for three years. Her experience working with ELL (English Language Learners) has been extremely rewarding. Kate is looking forward to exploring her new home in Denver, Colorado. In her free time she loves backcountry camping and hiking, going to concerts, cooking, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers!

Doug Brunner (dbrunner@soardenver.org)

Doug Brunner is a rare Colorado native, born and raised in Boulder. He attended CSU and graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Following school, Doug moved to San Diego, CA where he worked with mentally ill, homeless, adults. In 2014, Doug moved back to Colorado with his wife to help with his family. In August of 2014 Doug entered a graduate program through UC Denver, as part of which, he has spent the past year working at Boulder Journey School, a private, Reggio inspired preschool in Boulder. Doug graduated with his MA in educational psychology in August of 2015 and is excited to start working at SOAR. Doug’s passion for teaching started in 1998 when he started teaching breakin classes to students in Boulder. Doug continued to teach all over Colorado until 2005 as well as compete and perform all over the country. Doug continues to volunteer his time at a local dance studio in Denver as well as perform and compete in Colorado.

Fun fact, Doug has been dancing, performing and competing with Mikey Mestas since the early



Danielle Santoro (dsantoro@soardenver.org)

Danielle is a New York native who has been invested in the Colorado community for the past few years. She is a certified Teacher of English as a Foreign Language and also earned her BA from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. After teaching abroad in India as well as tutoring right here in Aurora, she joined Teach for America to pursue her passion for special education. Danielle is thrilled to be part of SOAR as an Interventionist and looks forward to helping all students realize their potential. Outside of school you can find her hiking, drinking tea or traveling.

5th Grade

Classroom Teacher

Alejandro Fuentes (afuentes@soardenver.org)

Alejandro has two years of experience as a bilingual 5th grade teacher working at DCIS at Ford and is truly excited about beginning his journey at SOAR.

Alejandro is very invested in the community. In his last school he demonstrated care by participating in home visits, going to community events, attending student’s games and coaching different sports like soccer and basketball. Outside of school (and sometimes in school) he enjoys singing, dancing, and all around merriment.

Cecilia Coats (ccoats@soardenver.org)

Cecilia grew up in the Seattle area but later moved to Texas where she really missed the water. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, studying Cultural Anthropology and American Studies (Race, Gender, and Ethnicity). After teaching in Spain, she got her Masters from the University of the Pacific in Intercultural Relations and Multicultural Curriculum Development. Her passion is diversity and inclusion education and works annually with high school students on diversity issues in schools. Cecilia has been lucky enough to teach for 18 years in private, public and charter schools. She loves spending time with her 3 kids, gardening, baking/cooking, dancing (West African dance), and traveling. She is so excited to be at SOAR!

Shannon Fahsbender (sfahsbender@soardenver.org)

Shannon was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and moved to Denver, Colorado in the summer of 2013. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida, Go Knights! Since graduating, she has taught third grade at a Title 1 school in central Florida for 6 years. She is enjoying her time in Colorado (even the snow) and loves everything the state has to offer. If she isn’t in the classroom teaching you can find her in the great outdoors with her husband Ryan and dog Bailey. She enjoys water skiing, cycling, hiking, drawing, dancing and going to concerts.


Laura Resetarits (lresetarits@soardenver.org)

Danielle is a New York native who has been invested in the Colorado community for the past few years. She is a certified Teacher of English as a Foreign Language and also earned her BA from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. After teaching abroad in India as well as tutoring right here in Aurora, she joined Teach for America to pursue her passion for special education. Danielle is thrilled to be part of SOAR as an Interventionist and looks forward to helping all students realize their potential. Outside of school you can find her hiking, drinking tea or traveling.

our board

our board

Sue Sava - Board Chair
Ms. Sava earned her B.A. in American History from Princeton University and holds a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado Denver. She has worked at Stanley BPS for 20 years as an educator and a teacher trainer. Since 2004, she has been the Director of the Stanley Teacher Preparation Program, a clinically-based residency program that prepares teacher interns in 15 schools in the Denver metro area. In that time, the program has grown 85 percent, and intern graduates currently impact over 13,000 students each year, nationwide. In her role as Director, Ms. Sava collaborates with the Colorado Department of Education to recommend interns for their Initial Colorado Teacher’s License and the University of Colorado Denver to grant master’s degrees in Educational Psychology. She also teaches intern candidates both licensure and master’s coursework in the theory and practice of educating early childhood and elementary students. Ms. Sava also serves on the Standards Alignment Workgroup for the CDE.
Ellin Keene - Board Vice President
Ellin Oliver Keene is an experienced teaching and literacy professional and noted author. She is a Denver native and a founder of Denver’s Public Education and Business Coalition, where she serves as the director of research and development. She has worked with schools, universities and school districts, providing professional development training and curriculum development and assessment. She has developed and directed Cornerstone at the University of Pennsylvania’s National Literacy Initiative and created and refined professional development models incorporating in-depth, on-site coaching for teachers and principals. These initiatives have impacted over 50,000 educators and 800,000 children in twenty-four years.
Claudia Gutierrez - Director

Mortgage Consultant


Rosann Ward - Director
Rosann Ward has been with the Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC) since 1996, serving as president of the organization for the past nine years. She has led the expansion of the core professional development work to a national scale, which provides a significant revenue generating-component to support the mission of the organization. Rosann also actively serves on various boards including The Colorado Governor’s School, the SOAR School Board and the RMSEL Board. She also is a member of the Colorado Department of Education’s Commissioner Literacy Work Group. Prior to joining PEBC, Rosann was a staff member in Governor Roy Romer’s office, in charge of implementing the governor’s statewide adult literacy plan. In New York, Rosann was a marketing specialist and editor at Random House and Simon & Schuster, and finally associate publisher at Atlantic Monthly Press. Her list of authors included, among others, Carl Sagan, Don Hewitt, Richard Ford, Ken Follett, Martin Luther King, Sr., and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss).
Rona Wilensky - Director
Rona was principal and founder of New Vista High School in Boulder, Colorado from 1992-2009. Previously, she worked as an education policy analyst for the Governor of Colorado, the Education Commission of the States, and various education reform initiatives in Colorado. During the 2009-10 academic year, Rona was a Resident Fellow at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. She is currently Director of Mindfulness Programs at Passageworks Institutes which include SMART in Education, The Mindful Teacher course, and the Educators with Contemplative Practices network. Other recent projects have included work with the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education offering workshops on Contemplative Pedagogy and with the Language, Literacy and Culture Division of the Colorado Department of Education supporting staff working with Native American and Migrant Education issues. She has also collaborated with Peter Senge to bring systems thinking strategies to educators and policy makers in Colorado. A contributor to state and national conversations on high school reform, her essays have appeared in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan and Education News Colorado. Rona holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University and taught that subject at Williams College and the University of Denver in the early 1980’s.
William H. Weintraub - Board Director
William H. Weintraub is on the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is Executive-in-Residence at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. He also serves as Executive Mentor for M.B.A. students at the University of Denver. After growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Bill majored in advertising at the University of Illinois in Urbana. He earned a B.S. in Communications and an M.B.A. in Marketing before pursuing a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. Bill then went to work in brand management for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. After fifteen years, Bill was recruited to Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he was appointed Chief Marketing Officer. Under his nine years of leadership, virtually every Kellogg brand was turned around, enabling the company to achieve a dominant 44% share of market. In 1991, he moved to Florida to become Chief Marketing Officer for Tropicana. But, within two years, the then-new COO of Coors recruited Bill to become Chief Marketing Officer at the Golden, Colorado brewer.
Ethan Hemming - Board Treasurer
Ethan joined CSI in 2011 as the Deputy Director and assumed the role of Executive Director in 2012. Under Ethan’s leadership, CSI has transformed its business and authorizing practices and is poised to increase the quality and quantity of its portfolio of schools. Specific initiatives include the CSI strategic plan, development of the CSI Annual Review of Schools, release of the first CSI Call for Applications, and development of the Partnership Authorization initiative. CSI has also dramatically improved its overall customer service and communication systems under his leadership. Prior to joining CSI, Ethan held a variety of roles for 13 years at Denver Public Schools including Director of the Planning & Innovation Office, Director of the School Choice Office, and Manager of Homeless Education. Most recently, Ethan served as Deputy Executive Director of the Office of School Reform and Innovation for 3 years overseeing and supporting 28 Charter Schools and 6 Innovation Schools. In that role, Ethan facilitated, supported and directed improvements in the district’s charter school and innovation school authorizing practices in key areas. These included the release of the first ever “Call for Quality Schools” to identify, attract, evaluate and approve the highest quality charter and innovation schools as well as improvements to renewal practice, charter operations guidance and support, customer service protocols, and other monitoring tools. In addition, Ethan brings a depth of experience in demographic analysis and communications as well as leadership and performance management. Ethan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Colorado College and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Colorado State University.
Shelli Brown - Board Secretary
Shelli has been working with and for adolescents in a variety of settings since 1996, beginning in San Diego, California and transitioning to Denver, Colorado. She earned her B.A. in English from Hampton University and continued her education at Regis University’s School for Professional Studies where she earned her Masters of Arts degree in Liberal Studies – Psychology. Shelli began working as a therapist within an adolescent substance abuse treatment clinic and was able to impact the lives of countless youth and their families across the Denver metro area for 11 years. During that time, she earned her Professional Counselor License (LPC, 4100) with the state of Colorado. Currently, Shelli is the Community Site Manager for Steps to Success, an initiative through the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado and is tasked with helping to shape a youth violence prevention collaborative effort in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.
Laurie Godwin - Director

Principal at Aurora Public Schools, Tollgate Elementary School of Expeditionary Learning


Dan Smink - Director
Dan is currently the Managing Partner of C1 Partners, a Denver SEO firm serving small businesses in Denver that he founded after a successful career as a medical device executive. Dan’s client and consultant experience represents significant work across companies ranging in size from less than $1 million to greater than $40 billion, where he has led efforts to resolve his client’s problematic business situations and return them to growth. He came to Colorado after finishing his MBA at Georgetown University to lead the strategy and marketing efforts for large healthcare providers such as Centura Health and multinational medical device companies such as Covidien, McKesson and Thermo Fisher. He has also served on and led the Boards of several non-profits, including the Mental Health Centers of Denver, the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club, the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device, and Diagnostic Development, and the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Dan’s leadership and strategic guidance has helped to stabilize and grow these organizations. Prior to working in business, Dan taught and coached in middle schools and high school for six years.

board meeting information

board meeting information

SOAR Board of Directors meets the second Friday of every month; from 8:45 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Meetings are held in the school, Building 4 on the Evie Dennis Campus at 4800 Telluride Street, Denver 80249.

Meetings are open to the public and agendas are posted at SOAR in the vestibule of the entrance. Members of the public wishing to address the Board may do so by signing-up with SOAR office staff by 12 PM the day prior to a board meeting, giving their name and indicating the topic and position (if applicable).

Below is a complete list of meeting dates for the 2016-2017 school year:

  • July 8th
  • August 12th
  • September 9th
  • October 7th
  • November 11th
  • December 9th
  • January 13th
  • February 10th
  • March 10th
  • April 4th
  • May 12th

archived board meeting minutes »

financial transparency

financial transparency

SOAR is a Kindergarten through 5th grade elementary school in far northeast Denver, serving students from the Green Valley Ranch and Montbello subdivisions in addition to Aurora . The school has one school building, and anticipates an enrollment of 454 students each year. SOAR currently rents 41,990 square feet of building space from Denver Public Schools. The school employs close to 50 staff as well as provides community resources for the families that we serve.

District Adopted Budget
Other District-Specific Financial Information