Meet Ms. Mikaela!
Mikaela was born in Minnesota. She moved around quite a bit as a child calling Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maryland her home at various points. Growing up, Mikaela always enjoyed being around children and teaching others. She babysat often and completed a work-study program during her senior year of high school where she worked in a daycare center. It was during this same year, that Mikaela really started to ponder her career path. Mikaela found great support from two amazing teachers that were a positive influence on her learning. She credits them with getting her through high school; they created enjoyable learning experiences and provided real-life applications. They valued her as an individual and helped her to reach her potential. By the end of her senior year, she knew that was something she wanted to do for other children and make that difference as well. After high school, Mikaela attended Towson University just outside of Baltimore, MD. She took a few detours along the way and even pursued restaurant management for some time. It didn’t take her long to realize sometimes managing adults can be much harder than managing kids! Recognizing the restaurant life wasn’t what she wanted long term, she returned to school to follow her dream and become a teacher!
Upon graduating from college in 2001, Mikaela taught in Baltimore County Public Schools where she taught first, fourth, and fifth grades. In 2006, Mikaela and her husband, Will, welcomed their son, Mason, into their family. In 2008, she accepted a position at Friends School of Baltimore, a private school close to their home in Baltimore and a school they had at the top of their list for Mason. During her six year tenure at Friends, she taught first and fifth grades.
Mikaela and her husband knew they didn’t want to stay in Baltimore forever and felt they should probably move before Mason became too much older. They had visited Colorado in recent years and had friends who had recently moved as well. Their love for the outdoors drew them to Colorado and in 2014 they landed in Castle Rock.
School choice was new to Mikaela and she didn’t become aware of Renaissance until just a few weeks prior to their move. At that time, enrollment had closed. However, the more she read about Renaissance the more it felt similar to the private school they were coming from. They were barely unpacked in their new home when Mikaela attended the first parent orientation of the year. Bummed that they couldn’t get their son in, Mason attended two other elementary schools during their first few years in Castle Rock. After taking a couple years to get settled in their new environment, Mikaela returned to teaching at one of these schools where she taught second grade and worked as a literacy interventionist working with students in kindergarten through eighth grades. It wasn’t until Mason was in fifth grade that he was granted a spot at REMS. During Mason’s first year, Mikaela volunteered as a Crew Parent and realized first hand what a special place our school is.
Mikaela knew she wanted to teach at Renaissance, but also recognized that she needed her space and Mason needed his. In 2019, Mason matriculated to Renaissance Secondary School and Mikaela joined the staff at Renaissance Elementary as a third grade teacher. The transition from being a parent at our school to being a teacher has been seamless for Mikaela. Upon talking with her you can tell how passionate she is about our school, her Crew, and about teaching. “I think it’s necessary to see the good in all of our students. It’s important to know them as individuals and to honor the unique gifts they offer to our Crew.” She also shared that she often asks herself if she would want to be a student in her crew. “I want to instill a love of learning, a desire to explore and take risks, and curiosity in all of my students.”
The 2019-2020 school year marked her 16th year teaching but her first time teaching third grade. Mikaela said, “Third grade is really enjoyable to teach; actually every grade is wonderful in its unique way. However, third graders generally enjoy school, are much more independent, and they appreciate almost anything and everything I do…. And they still think I’m funny when I do silly things!”
When asked what she likes most about working at REMS she said, “There are so many things! This job is very fulfilling and I appreciate the supportive community of students, parents, and staff. I value the autonomy we are given; we are encouraged to take risks, and there is a trust in us that we will all do what is best for kids. I enjoy getting to learn alongside my students and sharing experiences together; especially on our voyages. The bonding and learning that takes place on our overnight voyages is so valuable. It’s neat to have those shared experiences, that often push us, to reflect back on when things are challenging in the classroom. Overall, this is just such an amazing community and I feel lucky to be a part of it.”
Ms. Billie had this to say about Mikaela, “She is very knowledgeable, organized, and has a wealth of knowledge to share with our staff. And, she is the mother of one of my former students. I feel we were so lucky to add her to our staff! It has been fun to work with her.” A parent in Mikaela’s crew shared this, “Mikaela goes above and beyond to get to know and connect with her students and families. This has been such a wonderful year for our child and our family.”
Outside of school, Mikaela enjoys spending time with her family and their two dogs, Disco and Olive. They like to play games, cook, and travel. Mikaela also enjoys reading and can often be found with a book she’s reading professionally and one she’s reading for fun. Finally, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, or just relaxing on her deck.
It is always wonderful seeing a parent move into a teaching role at our school! Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing your passion for teaching and learning with our third graders.
The 2021-2022 school year will be Mikaela’s 18th year of teaching and her third year teaching third grade at REMS.
“My name is Billie Pope, and I am so honored to be teaching here at Renaissance. My journey here at REMS has been personally expansive. I have enjoyed growing and learning right alongside my students. Each day, I am grateful to be in the classroom discovering amazing things about the world around us with my 'kids.' I love my work and have found a community and a home here at REMS. My years here have truly been life changing.”
While she was born in Oklahoma, at the age of eight she and her family moved to Georgetown, CO, where she lived the life of mountain adventure with her brother. I think that almost qualifies her as a native. “My folks are still with us and live in Castle Pines. My parents owned their own art framing business in servicing Vail and Breckenridge, and my mom was the Town Treasurer for the City of Georgetown for many years. Both of my folks are very active service members in their various communities. My brother has 2 children and 6 grandchildren. I have two sons Peyton and Dylan who have left the nest and my furry son Sancho! We are a very close family!”
Ms. Billie attended Georgetown Elementary and Clear Creek High School before attending UNC, CSU, and Metropolitan State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Research Psychology and her master’s degree in Arts in Teaching. She comes to us as the full package with extensive training in special needs, occupational therapy, art, behavioral research, and the Montessori method.
When I asked her what brought her to REMS, Billie shared, “I have been in various positions in the district since 2001. I started as a moderate needs Special Education Paraprofessional, Occupational Therapy assistant, and even a classroom assistant. In 2010 I had a friend who was teaching yoga classes for a teacher at REMS. I was a teacher at DCS Montessori at the time. I came to her class and just loved what I saw in the classrooms. I was curious about the drums and the overall culture at REMS, so when the opportunity opened, I went for it and have been here since 2013. Billie started as a Discovery assistant, providing one-on-one support, but also traveled to all classrooms to help where help was needed. She completed lots of substitute teaching work and even took on the full classroom assistant position before teaching her own class here at Renaissance.
“What do I love about REMS? Everything! When I interviewed here, I told the panel I was looking for another community to serve. I think the sense of community, adventure education, expeditionary model, and just being a part of amazing work for kids are among my favorite things. I love watching children recognize their strengths, overcome challenges and lead their own learning. The staff at REMS is also amazing, I have never worked with a more committed, brilliant group of teachers. I am passionate about my craft and becoming the best teacher possible for my students. I enjoy collaborating and being mentored by some of the most talented professionals in the field.”
So what does Ms. Billie do for fun? Biking, hiking, camping, reading, decoration, painting, gardening, yoga, meditation, being outside as much as possible and of course skiing at Loveland Ski Area! I asked Ms. Billie what one of her passions was and she shared that she loves behavioral research. "I love looking at studies and data, and I constantly think of things that I would like to research long-range and short range. I love looking at patterns and correlations. Clearly “Research Psychology” really fits with teaching and it reinforces my practice."
For her students, “I hope that they will have some discovery around themselves as learners and an even deeper level of connection to their families and discover what is truly important. My dream is that they would expand and grow in their knowledge and become even more observant. I hope that they notice all the little things and be more connected to nature."
When we think of what a wonderful addition Billie is to the Renaissance community, no one says it better than her Crew's families and colleagues:
"Ms. Billie has a huge heart! She is a dedicated and compassionate teacher who strives to be better every day. She leads by putting kids first and is always willing to do whatever it takes to help all REMS students feel successful, recognized and special. Her relationships with students and staff demonstrate her generous and compassionate spirit. Ms. Billie thrives on design learning units where students have voice, wonder and drive their own learning. She loves being in trenches and models what it means to have a growth mindset."
"Ms. Billie is so great at seeing what makes the kids thrive, and encourages them every step of the way. She connects with her crew and makes them feel special – such a gift to have her as a teacher!"
"Ms. Billie teaches with her whole heart and soul putting all her effort into each and every child. She has so much passion for what she does and it shows. Ms Billie doesn't just 'teach' reading and writing. She engages children to be creative, be passionate, be themselves. She encourages a desire to share kindness and humanity. She is so loved by her crew, her parents and her co workers. Ms Billie is the definition of what REMS is all about!!"
"Ms. Billie is one of those people that brings light into any room she is in. She is an amazing and beautiful person, inside and out!"
As you can see – there is plenty of love and appreciation for all that you do and give! Thank you, Ms. Billie, for being you and being a part of our Crew!
What a treat it was to sit down and interview this guy! He is warm, kind, and you won’t believe what he does in his free time! He is a good man and I hope this week you all will get to see what a blessing he is to our school and community.
Troy, along with his sister, was born and raised in Colorado by his parents . His dad was a police officer with the Commerce City Police Department until he retired in 1989. His mother stayed at home with the kids until they were old enough to go to school. After a short stint in restaurant management, she worked for the Aurora Public School System. She, herself recently retired and is enjoying retirement.
He is married to a wonderful woman and together they have a daughter who is in her Junior year of high school at Ponderosa High in Parker. “My daughter is an awesome basketball player, we love to watch her play,” He shared with pride.
For the past 5 years, he and his family have been heavily involved in a program called Royal Family Kids. It is a nonprofit organization in Parker that supports kids in the foster program. There are 3 components to this program. “From September to May, every Saturday we hold what are called Clubs. The kids come to a local church and participate in different activities each month. Then, attached to that, is our mentoring program. I myself have a couple of little guys that I work with, my wife has a little girl she mentors and works with and then, of course, my daughter has a little girl as well. My daughter has built a sweet and neat relationship with her and can’t wait for Saturday so that they can spend time together. The third component is our summer camps program. As adults, you are paired with a partner to take 3-4 kids under your care at this camp. We kayak, rock climb, swim, play games, and provide opportunities that most of these kids won’t otherwise get. We celebrate birthdays on one day at camp because a lot of these kids have never experienced that. It is a great time, a wonderful way to give back and something I am really proud of,” Troy said.
From there Troy realized that once the program ended at 12 years old, there was not another program for these hard “teen years” and he wanted to have something that would support those kids, so, they created Kings Teens, another support, mentoring and club program for the older kids. Their camp is in July and it is very similar to what happens with the younger kids. Birthday parties, opportunities to ride horses, rock climb, and many other events during that week. “As a product of a divorced family at the age of 12, I realize how hard those years can be, and if we can help these kids through that by providing the support that they need, then we have created something good. Camps are tough for us though. With the younger kids, we have enough women volunteers and not enough men, for the older kids, it is the opposite. We are in need of people who can give some time in either of these programs to help these kiddos out,” he stated.
If you are interested in finding out more, please visit royalfamilykids.org and kingsteencamp.org or reach out to Troy directly.
So, what is a School Marshal, and is that the same as a School Resource Officer? Although they do have some similarities, no, they are two different positions. A School Resource Officer, or “SRO” for short, is dedicated to one location all the time throughout the school year. A School Marshal is a position that was created after the Sandy Hook Incident when officials realized that our elementary schools were not protected like the middle and high schools. The dynamic surrounding school shootings in the country was and is a big deal. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the Town of Castle Rock developed the School Marshal’s program. In the beginning, it was just whoever signed up to be that person for the day, got to be that person for the day. It was called an overtime assignment, such as the movie theaters, churches, or other locations in town that wanted a law enforcement presence. Officers signed up for it, were paid overtime for it, and so forth. However, the Town of Castle Rock realized the importance of this program and dedicated officers just to it. Castle Rock has one SRO with each of the high schools, and two School Marshals, one dedicated to the East Side and one dedicated to the West side of I-25. These are now positions that you have to apply for, and no longer are considered part of the overtime assignment categories. Troy has worked for Castle Rock for 21 years now and the last three years, at his request, has been assigned and qualified as a School Marshal. He explained that the Marshals do not wear police uniforms or drive marked cars but are readily recognizable and suitably trained to respond to any potential difficulties. This softer approach allows children to relate better to the Marshals as they become acquainted. The Marshals have parking spots that are not open to the public so their equipment is readily available if needed.
The Marshals are required to be in each of their assigned schools every day. In Troy’s case, there are 9 elementary schools he rotates through each day. He says the best part of his job is being able to eat and play and get to know the staff and the students and establishing relationships and trust. His primary goal is to be involved in the schools: to make a connection with every student, staff, and family member he can!
When asked if he had concerns about any of the schools, he said that some of the older schools were built when there was no thought of securing the buildings or locking them down. Different schools are handled differently due to the actual available space. He wished we could build new schools with all the safety facilities possible for all students, recognizing the impossibility of that. His other concern is that the life situations that students face can be alleviated at school, and many times the positive results can be lost when they return to the stressful situations at home. Making positive connections and establishing a safe place for these kids, and all our kids at our schools, is important. Obviously, the overall function of the SRO and School Marshal programs is to protect the students, staff, and families from threats inside or outside of the school, but there is also a unique opportunity to bring in a positive side to this whole relationship. There is a mentoring opportunity, a community-building opportunity, and more. “I will sit and eat lunch with kids, read with kids, play games on the playground with the kids, or anything to provide positive connections and support,” Troy stated. Further, he stated, “This is a different level of community service that is being established inside and outside of the school. That is the most essential piece of this program. With the ugly side at the forefront, this brings in a beautiful side, this wonderful opportunity that has not been seen inside the schools before, even with the SRO programs.”
In closing Troy wanted his “parents” to know, “We are in this together. Safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It is something I take very seriously. I recognize the importance of my job and how that impacts your families every day. I am here to keep everyone safe, but I want to be a friend, I want to be a mentor and I want to help these kids in any way possible. We need to plant seeds and help those seeds flourish! Taking steps to be a part of a village like the one here at REMS is important and I would encourage parents to step into that. Be supportive, be involved, and let’s be a team!”
Troy, we are grateful for your service! Next time we parents see him, let’s say ‘thank you.’ We are blessed to have him as part of our Crew!
Meet Ms. Dana!
Dana grew up in Toledo Ohio. She attended Bowling Green State University just 30 minutes outside Toledo and received an Undergraduate Degree in Fashion Merchandising. Dana was passionate about retail and spent several years working in management and then sales after she got married. Dana and her husband took a trip to Colorado to visit her brother who was stationed in Cheyenne. During the trip they fell in love with the state. Upon returning to Ohio she and her husband said to each other, “Alright whoever gets a job there first, we are moving!” Dana did a phone interview with the Verizon office near DTC and they hired her on the spot! They packed up and headed to Colorado. They found an apartment to rent in Lakewood that had the one thing on their list...mountain views! They lived there for about 2 years then bought a house in Highlands Ranch. It was there that they adopted their son Daniel. Dana became a stay at home Mom and their family grew when they adopted their daughter Olivia. Around that time, Dana’s mom moved from Ohio to Castle Rock to be closer to her grandkids. Dana and her husband really liked the small-town feel of Castle Rock so they moved their family there as well. When Daniel was getting ready for Kindergarten, Dana was not sure where to send him. She asked Daniel’s Speech Pathologist to go on a tour of Renaissance with her. As they were leaving the school the Speech Pathologist who did not have kids at the time said, “Well I don't know what you are gonna do, but when I have kids they are coming here!” That affirmed what Dana was already thinking, and she enrolled Daniel for Kindergarten. Over the next few years, Dana enjoyed being a stay home mom to her kids and became very involved at the school volunteering where she could. When Olivia was in 2nd grade, Dana decided to join the workforce again, but she did not want to go back into sales. She was really inspired by how much she had seen educators pour into her son Daniel. She thought to herself, “How can I pay this forward?” That led her to take a job as an EA at the school in one of the 1st-grade crews. Over the next three years working as an EA, Dana went back to school to receive a Masters in Education and her teaching license. Dana looks back on that time and says, “I still have no idea how I juggled all of that! Working full, time, raising kids, so many late nights, but all worth it. I felt greatly supported by the school community.” After finishing her schooling, Ms. Deborah offered Dana a job as a 2nd-grade teacher.
Dana is now in her 7th year of teaching 2nd grade. Her position at the school has a unique perspective because she not only is a teacher but she has also been a parent at the school. This has allowed her to see both sides of the building, and this has helped foster great relationships with parents because she has been in their shoes and can easily see their side of things. When asked what she loves about teaching Dana said, “So many things!! It is so much fun. But what I really love is that 2nd graders are old enough to really be developing into the little people they are going to be but still young enough to write me love notes and believe in the tooth fairy. 2nd grade is a fabulous year! First-grade teachers do such a great job of teaching them to read and by the time they come to 2nd grade, they are really ready to delve into books and get to know characters.”
One of Dana’s favorite memories was the first time reading Charlotte’s Web to her Crew. Dana said, “We were getting to the part when Charlotte was about to die and I looked up at one of the girls in my class who was crying and crying, she looked at me and said, ‘It’s ok Ms. Dana, these are happy tears!’ These kids are so sweet!”
Dana’s Crew has a class 'pet' named Gus, a stuffed dragon who Dana says is a part of the crew. Gus is a part of their phonics program and during the school year, every Friday students take turns bringing him home for a few days. Dana said, “The amount of joy that the silly little dragon is bringing these kids is incredible."
"The parents at school do a great job of letting us know we are appreciated.” Dana said her favorite part about Renaissance is that the school really embodies We Are Crew. “When I went through a divorce several years ago, that was proven to me over and over again not just to my kids but also to me. It was incredible how the school supported my kids through that tough time. They were in the perfect place for it to happen. We are Crew is real, we felt it. During that time we realized our family was much bigger than we thought. I still feel that way today; there is not a teacher in the school that I couldn’t go to for help. It is not a place where people are competing, everyone on the staff really embraces each other and pushes one another to do the best we can. Sure, sometimes we don’t always see things eye to eye, and that is fine, but we respect each other's opinions. There is a great sense of Crew among us.”
Outside of school, Dana enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and crafting (when she can find the time!). With both her kids nearly grown, she knows her time with them is limited. For that reason, she wants to spend as much time with them as she can. Dana has spent 15 years at our school, from parent to teacher she has made a positive and meaningful impact on our students. We are so grateful for her dedication!
From a parent of Dana’s: “Our family adores Ms. Dana. She goes above and beyond the normal duties of a teacher. She takes the time to get to know her students and identify their strengths and weaknesses to help them become confident learners.”
From a parent at REMS: “I liked Dana the moment I met her, she has a contagious laugh and smile that puts people at ease around her. I have seen what a wonderful mom she is to her children and was thrilled when she decided to become a teacher at the school. She is creative, passionate about teaching, and has a huge heart. I am so thankful she gets to share these things with our community.”
Thanks for all you do, Ms. Dana!
When you walk through the halls of Renaissance you’re very likely to be inspired. According to Mr. G, one of our first grade Crew teachers, one of his favorite pieces of inspiration is James Comer’s quote: “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”
That drive for connection and significant relationships has shaped the trajectory of Ed Goulart’s life since he was known as “Eddie.”
While Mr. G was growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his parents and three sisters, he had a passion for reading and quite an imagination. He could pretend he was solving mysteries with the Hardy Boys or having other adventures right alongside the characters in the books he was reading. “I also loved learning about all things science!” he shared.
Later, in high school, he began to play the guitar and write his own songs. He and his friends would form bands and play at dances or in the parks during the summer. This is where his lifelong love of performing began.
After high school, he attended Curry College in Milton, MA. “I studied music at Curry and continued to play in bands all over New England. I got to perform in numerous different ensembles in college, playing everything from Broadway Musicals to Bach concertos, from Jazz to Rock and Roll. It was an exciting and fun-filled time of my life. I graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts. For the next few years, I worked my hardest at succeeding in the music business. My dream was to become a Rock Star!”
“I was in a couple of pretty good bands with some very talented musicians, and together we played in nightclubs all over New England, especially in the Boston area.” Mr. G reflects. “It was an exciting time to be in a band in Boston. Lots of groups from the area were being signed to recording deals, and there was always a chance that somebody from a record company could be in the audience. It was fun, but it was also very hard work. The bands never made enough money to support us, so I had to work during the days and rehearse or perform at night. I had a lot of different jobs during those days. One of my favorites was working at a pet store. I learned quite a bit about how to take care of animals there, which is part of why I always have had several pets in my classroom.”
While he enjoyed making music, he began to realize that the rock star career probably wasn’t his path. His sister was a school secretary and convinced him to start substitute teaching. “I enjoyed working in the classroom with all the different children each day.” He shared. One day he was able to receive a long-term teaching assignment in 5th grade from October to the end of the school year. “That was it, I was hooked!”
He enrolled at Lesley University where he earned his master’s degree in Elementary Education. “I was going to be a full-time teacher!”
“One of the best, and most challenging things about being a teacher is building that connection with my students. In a way, it’s not unlike being a musician with an audience. I believe that children are wired to respond positively to music. I have songs for counting, clean up, continents, transitions and so many other things. Music makes us feel good and we enjoy it.”
While Mr. G may have found a new passion to pursue, his love of adventure and learning has only continued to grow. “In my career, I have worked at 8 different elementary schools, 3 of which I have helped to open. I had absolutely loved working at Mammoth Heights but, after 10 years, I decided it was time for a new adventure. So, I went looking for a school where the children, teachers, and parents were passionate about learning and working together as a community.”
And with a bit of luck, Renaissance happened to have an opening for a first-grade teacher that felt like a perfect fit. Mr. G said, “I love the nature connection and that challenge is a good thing! It’s not just about what you accomplished today; it is about what did you fail at today. When I first started hearing Mr. Doug use that phrase and ask the crews what are they going to do differently today? How are you going to challenge yourself? We can overcome challenges and grow each day and that is what I want my students to gain from my classroom!”
“When I came to Renaissance, I was used to being everyone’s go-to guy. I had good ideas, I was considered a great teacher/mentor in my previous jobs, but when I got to Renaissance, I was met by extraordinary teachers and colleagues and now am teaching alongside the best of the best. What a blow to my ego! I am so blessed to work with these people. They are problem solvers, they are passionate, they are amazing individuals and your children come first!”
Even today, Mr. G continues to mentor and learn from the whole team of Renaissance educators. Some of the other staff wanted to share about Mr. G –
“To have Mr. G as part of the first-grade team is a blessing. We share similar visions for our classes. He is very talented and just a great teacher!”
“Mr. G is funny and kind and is one of the most amazing teachers. The way he uses music in his crew and in his teaching makes a lifelong impact on both his crews and their parents.”
“Where to start? I thought I was a well-rounded teacher until I met Mr. G. He has provided me with ideas and opportunities to adjust my teaching style and has made me a better teacher because of it. He for sure is a treasure in our school!”
“Not to be mushy," Mr. G says, "but what an incredible privilege it is for me, to be able to teach children and for the parents to trust me, and to share their most precious gifts with me. I know that sounds very cliché, but it is an absolute truth. I am able to make that connection with, to, and for that next generation in my classroom. I hope the parents and kids know what a privilege I recognize that to be. Especially since I use to be a long-haired rock and roll musician!”
Mr. G thank you for coming to REMS and sharing your passions and zest for life with all of us! Your Crew is certainly in great hands.
We are crew
We love to celebrate all of the ways our Parent & Staff Crews make Renaissance a great place to grow and learn!