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Teresa Aten is a lifelong resident of Colorado Springs, having graduated from Coronado High School in 1995.  She attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Spanish.  While attending UCCS,  she was a founding member of the Iota Kappa Chapter of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority.  After college, she continued to serve as that sorority chapter’s key advisor, founded the Colorado State Phi Sigma Sigma alumnae chapter, and also served as the national events committee chairman for the entire Phi Sigma Sigma organization based in Baltimore, Maryland.  She also ran a wedding and events planning business, and has been instrumental in the planning and organization of events at the local, state, regional and national levels.

Teresa has also been very active in local charities, including serving on the Games Operating Committee for the Southern Colorado Special Olympics,  the planning committee for several Red Ribbon Balls for the Southern Colorado AIDS Project, as well as charity work for the National Kidney Foundation and the Phi Sigma Sigma foundation via her sorority work.  

Teresa discovered the Ruth Washburn community when she and her husband, Rich, enrolled their 2-year old daughter Ellie into the Seeds class in 2020.  She was immediately drawn to the co-op concept that allowed her to participate in helping the organization that is doing such great work with her daughter.  Teresa’s interests include golf, bowling, crafting, hiking and getting into new adventures with Ellie and Rich.

 

Karen Brown moved to Colorado Springs in 1991 from Wiesbaden Germany.  Married to an Air Force officer, Karen also lived in the Philippines and San Antonio, Texas before settling in beautiful Colorado Springs when her husband, David, retired from the Air Force. Karen graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in Elementary Education.  Besides teaching fourth grade and preschool in San Antonio she volunteered as a soccer coach and Scout leader.

Karen’s passion for Early Childhood Education led her to Ruth Washburn where she taught for 23 years and served as the Assistant Director for four years.  She attended state and national Early Childhood Conferences and presented workshops at the local and state levels. Karen has been on the Curriculum Development Committee and the Ruth Washburn Way Committee.  

Literacy, books and reading to children are near and dear to Karen’s heart.  She helped develop “Grow a Reader” Literacy Kits for the Pikes Peak Library District for use by home daycare providers as well as preschool teachers.  With other volunteers, Karen currently helps to make “Be Creative” Art Kits for distribution to children in the community.  

Karen and her husband have three children and four grandchildren.  Although they moved to Colorado Springs too late for their own children to attend Ruth Washburn, they are looking forward to their two granddaughters who live in the Springs getting the Ruth Washburn experience. Their two year old granddaughter, Scarlett, attended Wee Explorers this year. Karen is an avid reader, gardener, hiker, traveler and Broncos fan. 

 

Phoebe Bullard grew up in the rich culture of Taos, New Mexico.  She attended the University of New Mexico, where she was recruited to be a cheerleading team member. Yearning for a change of scenery she moved to San Diego to enjoy sunny days and ocean waters.  In 2015, she and her husband, Christian, wanted to explore the mountains of Colorado and moved to Colorado Springs. She is currently attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), studying sociology and women and ethnic studies.

Phoebe discovered Ruth Washburn while searching for an outdoor preschool program for her eldest daughter.  It was a great experience, and she appreciated the parent collaboration and social play-based curriculum offered.  Phoebe and her family have now been with Ruth Washburn for 5 years and her youngest child will be starting this year.

She is in her second year as a board member and is serving as Vice-President as well as chairing the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.

 

Matthew Chumaceiro 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demi Clinton first moved to Colorado Springs from Dayton, Ohio in 2007 and fell in love with the area and Colorado immediately. His wife is in the Air Force and they moved away to Utah, then Virginia, and now they are back in Colorado to stay. They have an 11-year-old son who attended a cooperative preschool in Virginia and will soon be a big 6th grader. Their middle son, Jax, attended Ruth Washburn for 2 years and heads off to 1st grade this fall. Their youngest, Jesiah, starts his first year at Ruth Washburn this fall as a 3-year-old. Before becoming a stay-at-home dad, Demi taught special education for almost 10 years and he currently has a Ph.D. in special education leadership. He and his wife look forward to exploring more of Colorado and enjoying their time with the boys as much as possible.

 

Suzanne Dillon has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, interspersed with adventures living, working, and creating elsewhere. Her eldest completed three years at Ruth Washburn and is now rockin’ third grade. This year, Suzanne’s twins joined the Ruth Washburn family as members of the Seeds class, and they are LOVING school.

This is Suzanne’s fifth year on the Board of Governors. Suzanne has a background in education, grant writing, and the arts. She’s a compulsive grammar corrector (sorry!), loves getting riled up about preserving art and history, and enjoys after-dinner mosh pits with her husband and their three favorite punk rock collaborators.  

Ruth Washburn stole Suzanne’s heart the moment she stepped foot on the playground. Her love for the school, the incredible staff, and the broader Ruth Washburn family continues to grow. She hopes to contribute her fundraising experience, robust community connections, and creative problem solving skills to the Board of Governors and the school at large for years to come. 

 

Hannah Egger moved to Colorado Springs in 2014 after a six year stint in Texas.  She is originally from Bloomington, Illinois where she grew up and still visits regularly.  She attended Butler University in Indianapolis, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  Her adventurous spirit then brought her to Los Angeles where she taught 5th grade for three years.  Missing the seasons, she returned to Illinois to attend Illinois State University and earn a master’s degree in Child Development with a focus on the child life profession.  An internship brought her to Austin, Texas and then she worked as a child life specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. This is where she met her husband, Matt who is also from the midwest.  They share a love of the snow and winter sports, so they packed up and moved to Colorado after getting engaged and married in this beautiful state.  

Hannah had heard wonderful things about Ruth Washburn from local acquaintances so she and Matt decided to enroll their 3-year old, Juniper in the Roly Polies class in the fall of 2021.  She has been thriving in this class and Hannah has enjoyed being involved in the school as a parent.  Hannah and Matt plan on sending their son, Maclin to RWCNS in the fall of 2023 and hope to be a part of the Ruth Washburn community for many years to come.  

 

Jackie Florendo moved to Colorado Springs from Nebraska in 2013. Jackie & her husband Collyn moved to be closer to their children who graduated from Colorado School of Mines and settled in the greater Denver area. 

Upon moving to the Springs, Jackie became Council Coordinator for Alliance for Kids, the Early Childhood Council for El Paso County, and became acquainted with the Ruth Washburn community.  As the Coordinator for the Council, she was thankful the community had such a gleaming example of a high-quality, play-based school for the community, which mirrors some of the Reggio philosophy. In addition, she witnessed the expertise of the RW team who also deeply cared about the children & families they serve, led by an awe-inspiring director who shared her talents serving on Alliance’s Council (governing board).

Jackie’s professional education entails a deep-rooted background in early childhood education and administration in which she holds an Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Education Administration with an emphasis in early childhood.  Her professional career consists of her role as Council Coordinator up to fall of 2020, a higher education instructor in early childhood education for undergrad and graduate students, and a doctorate graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska for instruction and research.  

Jackie currently serves as a Research and Resource Development Consultant for Joint Initiatives for Youth and Families, the fiscal agent for Alliance for Kids.  This new role allows her much more flexibility and travel time to see family and to serve her community and church. Jackie and her husband enjoy taking advantage of the beautiful Colorado hiking and running trails as well as the mountains.   Jackie hopes to contribute her knowledge of early childhood, the expertise she has gained as Council Coordinator, as well as her skills in public policy and resource development with the RW community.  

 

Jessica Llanas is a mother of three girls. She found Ruth Washburn when searching for the perfect preschool, where she could be involved, for her oldest daughter. She instantly fell in love with Ruth Washburn! The ‘family-like’ community and play based structure of Ruth Washburn was exactly what she was looking for in a preschool for her children. Her older two girls are Ruth Washburn alumni and now entering into the 7th and 4th grades. Jessica is excited for her youngest daughter to experience the magic of Ruth Washburn in the Fall.

Jessica grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Colorado with her husband in 2011, when the mountains called her home. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Art History. She is now a certified Yoga Instructor. She specializes in Prenatal Yoga and has been leading prenatal yoga classes since 2015. Jessica also loves sharing yoga and its benefits with children and is working towards being certified in children’s yoga. Jessica is also an artist and especially enjoys working in fiber arts. She has her own small business in which she sells her macrame and fiber art. She enjoys sharing her love of macrame by teaching macrame art classes and sharing her creations at various art and craft shows. 

In her free time, Jessica enjoys traveling with her family. They love to take road trips, camp, and explore the national parks and other new places together. You can often find her outside hiking or kayaking. She also loves to learn new things by reading and taking classes. Her most recent joy has been taking pottery classes.

Heather Meizis relocated back to Colorado in 2008 with her husband Jeremiah after attending college in the Midwest. Their daughter is a soon-to-be RWCNS graduate and their son will start in the Fall of 2021. Heather is a Social Worker in the Colorado Springs area and focuses her work on serving individuals with disabilities. As a first-time parent, Heather was immediately comforted by the culture of caring and dedication to the children within RWCNS and knew this co-op would be a great fit for her family. Heather and her family enjoy traveling, spending time outdoors, and love to explore all that nature in Colorado has to offer. Heather is completing her first year on the Board and participated in the Strategic Planning sub-committee and is excited for the opportunity to contribute to RWCNS in ways that reach outside of the classroom.

 

Lianne Mercer grew up in Longmont, Colorado, and then moved around a lot before finding a place to settle in Colorado Springs in 2017.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and has worked as an intensive care nurse, a public health nurse, including school nursing and maternal child nursing, and is currently employed as a lactation nurse.  She has a passion for caring for and supporting individuals and families.  She found Ruth Washburn in 2018 for Glenn who is in his last year at Ruth Washburn as an Outdoor Cricket and looks forward to DJ thriving in the school as a Sprout next year.  Ruth Washburn has given her family a community, helped her and her husband, Jeremy, grow as parents, and provided a safe place for her children to thrive.  They are grateful participants in the Colorado Preschool Program.  Lianne enjoys attending the football games Jeremy coaches, doing outdoor activities, and reading or listening to books when she has a spare minute.  She believes in the power of the Ruth Washburn community and is excited to serve the community that has given her family so much.

 

Judy Van Valin is serving her second year on the Board. She and her husband Dana grew up in northwestern Indiana and moved to Colorado Springs in 1976. They are the proud parents of three children and have three grandchildren. Judy earned her BS in Elementary and Special Education from Indiana University, a Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Development from Lesley University, and a Professional Licensure for School Administrator from Denver University. She worked in public education for 32 years; the first 22 as a teacher and finished her career as an administrator in Special Education. As an administrator in Academy School District 20, she had the pleasure of being the supervisor of the District’s preschool programs. Judy places great value on family and enjoys spending time with their children and grandchildren. She and Dana enjoy the out of doors and spend time hiking, horseback riding, and kayaking. She recognizes what a wonderful early childhood setting Ruth Washburn is and appreciates the quality of services for children, the family involvement, and the variety of choices for families it offers. Her grandson Rylan just finished his last year at Ruth Washburn and the family will miss the wonderful caring staff and the age-appropriate learning environment and instruction.