Meet Ms. Erica Bolenbaugh, Renaissance’s new 3rd grade teacher!
While Erica is new to the REMS community, she’s been in the education field for 10 years now!
“I went to school at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton Florida where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Elementary Education. I spent one year teaching 1st in Florida, five years teaching 2nd in Colorado, and this is my fourth year teaching 3rd grade. Last year I had a 1-year contract with DCSD, so as I started looking at schools I wanted to teach at, I found Renaissance and couldn’t believe it was a real school! As I started to research the school, I fell in love with REMS. I spoke to my principal and asked her if she had ever heard of REMS and as a matter of fact, she did! She put me in contact with Ms. Trena and the rest is history!”
Ms. Erica’s enthusiasm and curiosity have made her a natural fit with the teaching Crew here at Renaissance.
“My students say I’m a kid trapped in an adult’s body and I’d have to agree. Teaching is my most favorite thing to do and I love that I can share my love for learning with my Crew every day. I’ve always been a hands-on learner and I treat my teaching the same. We learn by doing so I try to make each lesson as hands-on as possible.
So far I’ve loved voyages. I love the idea of bonding with my crew in such a unique way. During the fall voyage, I was not only able to get to know my crew better, but the other half of 3rd grade as well!! I think Renaissance is such a wonderful and unique place to learn and work. My students have also gotten really involved with the school garden thanks to Ms. Jenny.”
Ms. Erica also deeply values her connection to her family and serving the community.
“I was born in Pontiac, MI but moved to South Florida when I was young. I spent my summers on a farm in a small town in Michigan. My dad moved back to Michigan 3 years ago when my mom passed away. My sister Melissa lives in north Florida with her husband and my adorable niece Angel (named after our mom). My husband David & I moved to Colorado about 10 months after getting married and we’ve been so happy since!!
Every summer in a typical year I travel to China and teach English as a volunteer to underprivileged children. When I’m not doing that I’m traveling the world with my husband. I love to rock climb, hike, and stand up paddleboard.”
We’re so happy to have you here at Renaissance, Ms. Erica! Thanks for joining our Crew!
Get to know Ms. Abbie, our Discovery 2/3 Teacher!
Abbie Massey grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis as an only child with her Mom and Dad, and dog. She is also very involved with her extended family growing up.
“I spent a lot of time with my cousins who I am still close with. My aunt opened her own successful childcare center and I worked for her during graduate school which was a great experience!”
Before coming to Renaissance, Abbie pursued an education centered on children and their development.
“I went to the University of Minnesota and majored in Psychology and minored in Child Psychology and Family Social Science. I have always been interested in personality, child development, and family patterns. During this time I worked at the University's childcare center with toddlers and realized working with children on a daily basis brings me joy. I have now been teaching in Early Childhood Special Education and Elementary Special Education for the last decade. During that time I went back to school and got my Masters in Gifted Education. When I moved to Douglas County, I subbed at Renaissance and fell in love with the school.”
Abbie has had a wealth of opportunities to hone her teaching philosophy and prepare her for teaching at Renaissance.
“I had the opportunity to teach at Summer Enrichment Summer Camp through the University of Northern Colorado. This was a really special experience and I got to do some in-depth investigations with preschoolers and middle schoolers. I believe children should be excited about learning and allowed to explore their interests. I believe they should have the opportunity to solve real problems and make a difference in the community. I am also inspired by Forest Preschools created by Ella Flautau in Denmark and Waldorf schools.”
When the opportunity to teach Discovery at Renaissance opened up, Abbie lept at the opportunity.
“I love everything about REMS philosophy and programming. After initially subbing at REMS and looking at schools for my step-son who starts kindergarten next year, I am convinced it is the best school in the district. I am especially excited about adventure education because I am so passionate about protecting the Earth and its animals and plants. I am loving becoming a part of a Crew that believes in the REMS philosophy, as well as getting to know my students, their families, and my colleagues.”
Abbie loves how her special education experience brings deeper insight into her Discovery kids. "I decided to pursue a Masters in GT because I am interested in how all children learn in their own unique way. My special education experience helps me to scaffold students' learning at whatever speed works for them. I also previous taught social-emotional curriculum and that helps me teach students how to solve problems and manage their feelings in healthy ways."
When not at school, Ms. Abbie loves to pursue her own passions and spend time with her family.
“I live with my partner Mark, and my step-son Jacob who just turned 5 and will be attending kindergarten at Renaissance next year. We have a dog, a cat, 6 chickens, and fish. I love to hike, camp, do yoga, meditate, and read. Currently, I am studying astrology and learning to interpret natal charts. I enjoy traveling and have been to Italy, Guatemala, Peru, Panama, Alaska, Hawaii, and all over the western US. I love to cook and enjoy whole foods and kombucha.”
We’re so grateful to have you teaching our kiddos, Ms. Abbie! Thanks for making Renaissance your home!
Meet Ms. Julie Ternus!
This week we are so excited to share Ms. Julie with our families. She is bright, warm, talented and we are so grateful to have her as part of our crew at Renaissance.
Julie grew up in Elizabeth, Colorado with her two siblings. Julie now lives with her husband Matthew who is a teacher also, teaching math at Castle View High School. They have a kitty, Artemis, and a pet toad. “Family is very important to me. My mom is my best friend, and I see my family at least once a week normally. Matthew’s family also lives in Elizabeth, we get to see them frequently as well.”
When it came time to go to college, she chose to complete her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Governors University. She said that she chose this path as, “I am very passionate about working with children. I love to watch them learn and grow.”
Why did she choose to teach at Renaissance? “Renaissance chose me, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I applied for an open EA position to have the opportunity to learn more about teaching in the classroom setting and I was picked for the position! I’m now in my second year of teaching 2nd grade. Even though we’ve done all types of learning (split schedule, remote, and in-person again), I know connecting with these kids is where I’m meant to be!”
When asked what she loved about Renaissance, this is what she shared: “I love this school. I have worked in a variety of elementary schools, and none are like Renaissance. The sense of community here is unparalleled and I have felt welcome from the beginning. Working here has also sparked a love of hiking, and now that is my favorite hobby. Also, I appreciate how environmentally friendly we strive to be as a whole. I just love it here.”
When Ms. Julie first came to Renaissance, she started out working with Mr. G as an Educational Assistant, which she felt was such a great introduction to all the things we do and also helped her become a better teacher today. “Mr. G is also such a great part of working here. He is an amazing teacher, and I learn so much from him all the time. He allowed me to try different things in the classroom which helps me build my skills as a teacher. I couldn't ask for a better co-worker.”
Still today, Julie relies not only on her Primary team, but takes advantage of all the wisdom the educators in the building have to offer!
“Dana helps out so much with the planning and curriculum, and I will still go to Mr. G to troubleshoot a problem. Even Mr. Doug has been so great with all his Love & Logic instruction. That’s been a huge inspiration to me. I also go to Erica and Mikaela all the time too. I know I can go to anyone in the building and ask, ‘Can I watch you teach math?’ or ‘Can I bounce this idea off of you?’ and they are always so helpful.”
Don’t let Ms. Julie’s quiet fool you. She is very talented! She is a crafter and enjoys a wide variety of projects. Crochet, making soaps, making jewelry and papercrafts. “I do it all and I love it!” she said. When she isn’t making sweet gifts for fellow staff, friends and family, she loves to get outside and hike. It has become a new favorite hobby of hers. She and her husband Matthew love to visit Colorado State Parks and enjoy nature.
Staff had some nice things to share about you, too, Julie –
“Julie is so talented. Her gifts are beautiful creations, all handmade of course, and bring so much joy.”
“Julie is thoughtful and kind! She is always looking for a way to brighten someone else’s day.”
“Julie has been a true joy to work with every day. She is bright, talented, and always puts our kids’ needs first. She is a great teacher and I have enjoyed our time together as a team.”
“Have you seen her smile? She is beautiful inside and out.”
Julie, thank you for making Renaissance special. Thank you for sharing your talents with our families! We love and appreciate you so!
Renaissance is thrilled to welcome Ms. Lauren Gunn back this year to the kindergarten team! While she may be a new face for many REMS parents, she’s back in our halls again after taking a few years off with her twins.
“I have actually worked at Renaissance as a classroom teacher for 8 years, teaching 5th grade, 3rd grade, and kindergarten. Then for the past four years, I have been home with my twins. I am so thankful to have discovered Renaissance, and there is no other school I would rather teach at or have my kids attend! While my kids were young, it was an interesting experience to be a substitute teacher for a couple of days a week. I got to sub for over 25 elementary schools in Douglas County. It was eye-opening and gave me a stronger sense of appreciation for the model of teaching and learning at Renaissance. ‘There is NO PLACE LIKE HOME!’ Renaissance has such an incredible way of nurturing empathy, critical thinking, and curiosity to empower learners to be kind, active citizens who understand the meaning of CREW. Through expeditionary learning, students are encouraged to ask questions and dig deeper rather than be assigned generic memorization tasks. Through adventure education, kids become better versions of themselves through taking risks, stepping outside comfort zones, facing adversity with grace, and learning to work as a team. When listening to 6th graders and Renaissance alumni speak, I am always in awe of how deeply they know themselves, their heart for the world around them, and their rich sense of purpose. WOW. I truly believe that this is the BEST model of education, and it is a true honor to be part of these students’ journeys. They are going to change the world!!!”
Ms. Lauren even credits her time here at Renaissance with helping transform her self-image and lifestyle.
“When I think about the 22-year-old version of myself, I did not have a clear sense of my identity or purpose. I had never experienced belonging and the power of being surrounded by peers who believe in you. My coworkers at Renaissance changed that.”
Whether being challenged to do a 39-mile breast cancer walk, a 200-mile relay race, or tackle a technical mountain bike trail for the first time, she says her coworkers pushed her to get outside her comfort zone, challenge her mindset, and do hard things together!
“I remember the day Marci Murray asked me to join her in raising money for breast cancer and participating in a 39-mile walk. ‘What?!’ I thought, ‘I can’t do that. Well, maybe I can.’ And I did. I raised over $2,000 and walked 39 miles for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Then another year, Hanni Gilbert asked if I wanted to join a teacher team of runners. I told her that I don’t run and there is no way I could do that. Again, I switched my mindset, and I discovered that I was a pretty good runner. Renaissance had a team of 12 teachers and we ran a 200-mile relay race from Breckenridge to Aspen in 36 hours. I had to overcome fears of running alone at night, running unknown territory, and training hard enough to not let my team down. It was so empowering when we all crossed the finish line together! Around the same time, Lisa Johnson invited me to mountain bike with her. At that time, I could barely ride around the block, let alone on a technical dirt trail. Again- I learned so much about myself. I discovered a LOVE of mountain biking. It has become my favorite hobby. There is so much reward and growth when you step outside your comfort zone! So when Neil Reese said, ‘Well, you run and bike, why don’t you try swimming and do a triathlon?’ So I joined a local triathlon group, took swim lessons, and participated in a handful of Xterra triathlons, which include lake swimming, mountain biking, and trail running. If you would have asked me 15 years ago if I was an active person, I would have said ‘no.’ I would have told you that I would only run if a bear was chasing me. But, because others believed in me, I took a chance. Now being active is a strong part of my identity. I am a happier, healthier person because of it. I am thankful for how Crew lifts you up and stretches you in ways you never imagined.”
While Renaissance helped shape Ms. Lauren’s love of outdoor sports, she knew early in her journey to becoming a teacher what kind of values she wanted to embody that make her such a good fit in our Teacher Crew.
“I lived in a small ski resort town called Mammoth Lakes, California with my parents, both teachers, and two older brothers. Everyone knew everyone. There was not a lot of diversity, and certainly no one ever talked about diversity. So when I moved to Orange County and went to the University of California, Irvine, my world rapidly expanded. It was fascinating to learn about the multiple points of view and perspectives that made up each story. I discovered that in high school, I was taught that history was singular with everything laid out as black and white. In college, it blew my mind to learn about all the gray- that it is never black and white. I became passionate about learning about the untold stories and lesser-heard perspectives of history. I double-majored in Women’s Studies and Global Cultures, with an emphasis on Latino cultures. Also, I minored in Education. For me, college was the first place that I was asked what my opinion was or what I thought of something. How incredible that now I teach at a school that embraces diversity, multiple perspectives, and critical thinking. I truly admire the Renaissance’s model of learning and am wholeheartedly thankful to be part of it.”
Today, Ms. Lauren is happy to be back in the kindergarten classroom, helping grow curious learners into the Crew that is ready to tackle their first overnight voyage in May. From her first interaction with each student, she loves to foster the connection and sense of belonging that become the heart of Crew.
“It is such a highlight that the Kindergarten teachers do homevisits to get to know all the incoming kindies and their families. It is a treasured time where kids get to share with me their favorite toys, books, and things to do. And then parents can speak openly about their children highlighting strengths, sharing concerns, and asking questions. It is such a BIG STEP to send their child to kindergarten, and I am glad that I can help ease their minds with the comfort of having these conversations before school has even started. That relationship with students and with families is what I most look forward to when working at Renaissance. It sets the tone for a safe, positive, and fun learning environment. This relationship grows throughout the year, with the grand finale being the overnight voyage to Camp Elim. To see their transformation from beginning to end of the year is always my biggest joy. I am so proud and have such a heart for each of my students. And I love that our relationship always begins with a shy hello when opening their front door on the day of homevisits.”
The kindergarten Crew is so lucky to have Ms. Lauren, and we’re grateful for her sense of adventure (and patience) she brings to each day!
“Morning Meeting and Closing Circle are my favorite parts of the day: when we all check-in and feel a sense of belonging. There is so much laughter, silliness, and heartfelt conversations that come during our circle time. There is nothing more precious than seeing a group of students become Crew and feeling that deep sense of belonging.”
Thanks for making Renaissance your home, Ms. Lauren!
We are crew
We love to celebrate all of the ways our Parent & Staff Crews make Renaissance a great place to grow and learn!