Excuse us, as this page is under construction as we gather bios and photos from our new staff!
DSISD’s leadership team and faculty have a wide variety of skill sets and extensive experiences that range from working in the business and engineering fields to teaching and leading in high-performing public, charter, and innovation schools. We are innovators, and have experience starting schools with personalized learning programs that break the mold of traditional schools by bridging learning to real–world experiences.
Danny Medved- Principal
Danny Medved is honored to be the DSISD founding school leader. Before entering the field of education, Danny worked in the business entrepreneurship and outdoor recreation industries, and his undergraduate course work focused on business entrepreneurship and using experiential education as a medium to engage and empower at-risk and underserved students.
Since entering the field of education, Danny has spent his educational career closing the opportunity gap by serving the students of DPS in both charter and Innovation schools. His work in various DPS leadership programs and the pursuit of his doctorate at the University of Denver in Education Leadership and Policy Studies with a focus on designing schools that utilize a Competency-Based Education approach have prepared him to grow the DSISD founding team and set a vision that will ensure that DPS’s first Competency Based High School is a landmark in school innovation and preparing students to be globally competitive employees innovators.
Outside of work, Danny spends time with his wife Brooke and three children, Havah, Caleb and Rachel, as well as family and friends. The activities that bring their family together tend to involve the outdoors and these range from backcountry skiing to mountain biking. Danny also loves to learn and read. His favorite novels cross genres and include diverse titles such as A River Runs Through It, Ender’s Game, Invisible Man, and The Grapes of Wrath. Danny’s hope and dream for students at DSISD is simple: that we will empower students to own their learning, so they can effectively pursue their dreams and help shape our society.
Lisa Simms- Assistant Principal & Humanities Dean
Lisa Simms has been in education for her entire career as a classroom teacher for eleven years, in both middle school and high school, as well as an evaluator and instructional coach for three years. As an English teacher, she was able to teach students something she feels very passionately about: the power and beauty of language.
Lisa has taught in a variety of settings including working in alternative and public DPS schools, being a founding member of Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts, and living and teaching abroad in Mexico. She has coached several sports, and throughout her career she has been fortunate to share two other passions with her students, a love for nature and music. She has planned and facilitated many outdoor education experiences for students as well as engaged students in and through music.
She has a BA in English from CSU, a Master of Ed. from Regis, and is currently pursuing her administrative license from UCD. Lisa is honored to be a part of DSISD’s pioneer staff for its inaugural year. She believes DSISD is on the forefront of innovation in education through its competency based model, and that every experience she has had in education so far has prepared her for this new and exciting adventure. She looks forward to her role both teaching students as well as supporting teachers.
Matthew Dodge- Operations Director & STEM Dean
Matthew Dodge is a Colorado native with 16 years living in San Antonio, Texas where he began his teaching career. Matt Graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in May of 2009 with a B.S. in Mathematics. He began teaching at his high school alma mater, Roosevelt High School, immediately after earning his alternative teaching license. In his first year, he established himself as a leader by facilitating the 9th grade content team all three years he was teaching. While at Roosevelt, Matt continued his education and earned his graduate degree in Education Leadership and Policy.
In 2013, Matt continued his career at High Tech Early College where he led the school as the Blended Learning Implementation lead. He was responsible for supporting and coaching teachers as they integrated technology and blended learning strategies. Following Matt’s two years at HTEC, he was accepted into the Denver Public School’s principal residency, Residency for the Educational Development of DPS Intrapreneurs Program (REDDI). Where he worked at DSST Stapleton Middle School as an Assistant Principal supporting all school operations, culture, blended learning integration, and school wide literacy.
Matt will began his next chapter at DSISD because he believes it is the place innovation in education will take place. Personalized learning is the most effective way to support learners as they actively engage in the experience. Outside of education, Matt enjoys spending time with his gorgeous wife Amanda and two dogs in the mountains hiking and skiing.
Otto Espinoza- Dean of Culture/Special Education & Literacy Support Teacher
Otto J. Espinoza is a special education teacher for kids with mild/moderate learning disabilities. He taught special education for 8 years at an Expeditionary Learning school in Mapleton Public Schools in Thornton Colorado where he managed a caseload of 20-30 students on IEPs, taught credit recovery in Algebra, Geometry and Statistics and mentored new special education teachers. Prior to teaching in Mapleton, he worked for the San Luis Valley Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center in Alamosa, Colorado as a classroom counselor for kids with emotional and behavior disabilities in a self-contained setting. He has worked with community mentoring programs, recruiting and training volunteers, providing programming for groups of students and supervising the mentor/matching process.
He also has experience coordinating and supervising outdoor education trips for his students including camping, hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, snowboarding/skiing and snow shoeing. Otto believes that the cornerstone for his students’ success is personal relationships build on mutual trust and respect. He sees the potential in all of his students and strives to help kids reach their full potential in and out of the classroom.
In his personal life, Otto enjoys outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and skiing. Other hobbies include seeing live music shows, reading, working out, mentoring and volunteering in his community and spending time with family and friends. Another passion is providing Suicide Prevention programming in Colorado communities as an ASIST (applied suicide intervention skills training) trainer for Living Works. Otto spends any free time at home on his family’s 4th generation cattle ranch, working with his father, brother, uncle and cousin to work and manage the family ranching/farming operation in Southern Colorado in the beautiful San Luis Valley.
Robert Florio- Dean of Culture/ Special Education and Physical Health and Well-Being Teacher
Originally, Bob Florio is from Upstate New York (Schenectady/Albany). Most of his childhood was spent playing sports like wrestling and hockey. After high school he really had no idea what to do with his life, so he joined the Air Force, and graduated basic training on September 8, 2001. From that point on he has been well traveled. He is still in the Air National Guard and trains out of Buckley Air Force Base.
Bob came to Colorado after graduating from the University of South Florida, and teaching at an urban school in Tampa. His first assignment consisted of teaching reading intervention, and Study Skills. After realizing that he wanted to teach in a smaller school atmosphere, with more emphasis on building relationships with students, he decided to move to Denver. He has served as a team leader, special education teacher, and reading intervention teacher during his time here.
Most of his time outside of the classroom is now spent rock climbing, skiing, wrestling, boxing, and doing jiujitsu. He love to tell stories about his life experiences, so feel free to ask him questions anytime.
Madeline Burton- STEAM Coordinator, AP Computer Science Teacher 10th, New Teacher Ambassador, Print Shop Coordinator
Madeline Burton grew up in Minneapolis, MN, drawing, fencing, and traveling with her family. She attended Cornell University where she competed on the varsity fencing team, and taught rock climbing classes. During her time at Cornell, Madeline took a wandering path through her college education, exploring architecture, art, math, astronomy, engineering, and computer programming in order to discover the space that resides at the intersection of these disciplines where she finally found her home. She also taught rock climbing courses to college students and local community groups. After graduating with a degree in Computer Science and another in Fine Arts, she began teaching math and computer science in Washington DC.
In 2014, Madeline was given the opportunity to join code.org’s curriculum writing team. She spent the next year designing curriculum for a new course, AP Computer Science Principles (a course officially announced by college board later that year) while continuing to teach in DC. She continues to travel around the country working with teachers to help prepare them to teach the course in the next few years.
Madeline was drawn to DSISD because she believes that critical thinking, 21st century skills, and the ability to innovate are necessities for all students leaving high school. She is excited to be in a place where she can help develop learners with these skills. When not in the classroom, she enjoys painting, rock climbing, cooking, and spending time with her husband Caspar, cats, and bearded dragon.
Adrienne Davis- Engineering Teacher 9th, Spanish Teacher
Stephanie Price is a Colorado native. She became the first college graduate in her family when she graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in May of 2006 with her B.A. in English and her secondary teaching license. Shortly after, she began her teaching career at Montbello High School in Denver, CO. As a first year teacher, Stephanie was recognized as a Mile High Teacher. During her time at MHS, she earned her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Reading. Stephanie’s core values as an educator were shaped at MHS where she learned the power of building strong community relationships and the importance of making learning relevant for her students.
In 2011, Stephanie started a new teaching journey at CEC Middle College of Denver. At CEC, she learned the importance of empowering student voice through her service as a teacher leader for the DPS Student Board of Education. After four years at CEC, Stephanie is making a fresh start at DSISD because she believes in making students active leaders in their own educations, and she believes in the spirit of innovation. Outside of her passion for education, Stephanie’s interests include cooking and marathon running. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and she is a travel enthusiast with a life goal of seeing all Seven Wonders of the World before her 40th birthday.
Libby Ferns- Language Arts Teacher, AP Language 9th Grade
Jeremy Jensen- Lead Math Lead Teacher, 1oth
Kathryn Florance- Math Teacher- 9th
Caitlin Ross- Lead Social Studies Teacher, AP Human Geography 10th & New Teacher Ambassador
Caitlin Ross is originally from Rockford, Illinois and earned her B.A. in History and Secondary Education with minors in Political Science and African American Studies at the University of Iowa – Go Hawks! She decided to become a teacher when she first experienced the inequalities of the education system moving from her elementary school to her middle school. It was then she realized so much of how she felt about herself and her learning depended on her teacher and her surroundings so Caitlin chose to be the quality teacher that she always wanted. She has chosen to teach at DSISD because she believes education is not one size fits all, and she knows the only way to ensure each young person has a meaningful learning experience is to empower them lead the way.
Caitlin moved to Colorado to enjoy time hiking and camping, but she is too much of a Midwesterner to ski. She spends most of her evenings doing yoga and cooking new recipes, but her favorite thing to do is to travel.
Aaron Dobberstein- Civics and AP Government Teacher 10th
Jessica Goldstein- Lead Science Teacher- Chemistry & AP Chemistry 10th
Jessica Goldstein was born in Vienna, Austria & grew up on the East End of Long Island. From a young age she was interested in international and environmental issues and spent much of her time traveling and volunteering for different causes. Combining her passion for nature and travel, Jessica attended Cornell University in Upstate New York, where she studied Animal Science and International Agriculture & Rural Development. Jessica spent time working on rural development projects in Nicaragua, Senegal, India and other developing countries.
After graduating with a Bachelor in Science in 2009, Jessica joined Teach For America and moved to Silicon Valley where she taught Honors Physics and Anatomy & Physiology at KIPP San Jose Collegiate. As a second year teacher, Jessica’s students achieved 98% proficient/advanced on the California State Physics Exam, placing her in the top 5% of physics teachers in CA state.
In 2012, Jessica left the classroom to head back to Cornell, where she attained a graduate degree in Global Development. Her Master’s work focused on developing a new framework for understanding resilience and sustainability in social-ecological systems. Upon her return to California, Jessica developed Common Core-aligned curriculum for EdCite.Com and worked as a District-Level Director for Summit Public Schools in the Bay Area. In 2015, Jessica joined the DSISD School Design Team as the Curriculum Coordinator and will be assuming the Lead Science position when the school opens in the fall.
Outside of school, Jessica’s interests include practicing yoga and hiking, growing her own food and cooking it, and volunteering for local organizations. In addition, Jessica’s alter ego is an avid professional horseback rider and polo player who has worked for top former Olympic & US Open trainers. You can catch her on the weekends tearing up the field at the Denver Polo Club!
Joe Kremer- Physics 9th
Analis Harris- Design My Future Teacher/AAA 109, Graphic Design & Community Liaison & Recruitment
Helen Romero- Office Manager/ Operations Coordinator
Alvaro Montenegro- Operations
Martha Turner- Counselor
Brian Beard- GT Specialist
NATHAN_CLARK@dpsk12.org (Chemistry, 10th)
KENDRA_COHEN@dpsk12.org (AP Human Geography, 9th)
LAURA_LOCKWOOD@dpsk12.org (Language arts, 10th)
SAM_MORTELLARO@dpsk12.org (Integrated Math)