SAGE Center recognizes the whole child; the beauty of the whole child is demonstrated in a myriad of forms – in art, in music. To fully support and balance the whole child, additional resources are available through expanded creative opportunities.
Collette Chinyerere, Occupational Therapist
BS Psychology, MS Occupational Therapy
How fortunate we are to introduce Collette Chinyerere – whose self-defined role is “part science, part heart and soul, part educator, part listener, advocate, inventor and part magical...”
Collette was born and raised in South Africa to a Mother who was a nurse and a Father who had his Doctorate degree in soil science and forestry. She lived in an academic university community, up in the mountains, 20 minutes from the ocean, where our neighbors and friends were zoologist, botanists, entomologists. She enjoyed a safe, imaginative childhood filled with adventures; yet there were limited support systems.
“I was born with a congenital heart defect and a prognosis, which included two open-heart surgeries by the time I was 21. My brother, who was very bright, had significant learning disabilities and had to attend a boarding school five hours away at the age of 12 to get help. However, my parents never let these circumstances define who we were or whom we could become.”
At the age of 18 years old, Collette traveled overseas and was an Au pair in Austria for an old aristocratic family, looking after four children and being a stable girl for six horses. She worked hard, six days a week - but also had the opportunity to travel around Europe experiencing many different cultures, art, history and ideas.
At the age of 20, Collette legally immigrated to the United States with her family. “It was one of the hardest things I have ever done! The experience awarded me opportunities I would never have found in South Africa. I attended college, and underwent open-heart surgery at the age of 22, mending my congenital defect”. Then she received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and went on to get her Masters in Occupational Therapy.
Collette has been an OT for nearly 17 years working in a variety of settings, including a large state hospital with Level 1 Trauma and Burn unit and residential treatment facilities, where she started an OT program in a non-traditional setting, helping children, teachers, and staff with children who had significant behavioral and psychological disabilities. She has worked at the Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis and in outpatient pediatric therapy programs. She has been a school OT, worked in Child Find evaluating and assessing children's needs for early intervention; and worked in pediatric home health, providing therapy for children 0-18 years of age, and helping parents access community resources to make a difference in their lives.
Within the field of Occupational Therapy, Collette specialized in Pediatrics for approximately 14 years. As ongoing education on a variety of pediatric topics, she furthered her education and experience in the areas of sensory processing and modulation; she has assisted and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Indianapolis on this subject. In addition, Collette has designed and created interactive sensory rooms and a sensory wall at residential children's homes to help children learn, grow, and explore their sensory environments. Within the last four years, Collette expanded her practice scope and areas to include feeding difficulties and increasing feeding for "problem and picky eaters" using a sensory approach.
In 2004, Collette married her husband and started a long journey to have a family. It took 12 years to become parents, along a road that was not easy. Collette and her husband are the proud parents of two wonderful children, ages 7 and 11 months - who just happen to be adopted.
“Living in Colorado provides me the opportunity to relive parts of my childhood – to be at peace in nature, to be creative, adventurous and explore new areas. Whether that be fishing in the river, camping or hiking up the mountain, one of my greatest joys is creating new memories with my family.
“I believe being an Occupational Therapist is not really ‘what I do’, but more ‘who I am’. It is part science, part heart and soul, part educator, part listener, advocate, inventor and part magical... I have been told I am a ‘Mary Poppins’ kind of a therapist and am grateful to the SAGE Center for giving me the opportunity to be the Occupational Therapist I have always wanted to be!” – Collette Chinyerere
Art Therapist, Michelle Fox
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville
Michelle has been working with children and families since 2004 in a variety of settings: as a teacher in a childhood development program in Minneapolis, and teaching English to children in Thailand. She has facilitated art therapy groups for people in long-term care with chronic mental illness and Multiple Sclerosis, and interned in a children’s residential treatment center. Michelle currently teaches art classes to all ages in Boulder, and provides individual and family therapy, as well as therapeutic groups for children and adults.
Michelle has her Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling and Art Therapy from Naropa University. She also has training in somatic trauma work, sandplay therapy and embodied energy tools.
Michelle offers, “Each person is the expert in their own healing and growth. I enjoy helping clients tune into that inner knowing and trust the art and play as ways to communicate experiences that are difficult to put into words. When working with children, I believe in considering each aspect of the child’s environment to better serve them. At SAGE, I am happy to be a part of a team that approaches each child from an individual basis and works in a holistic way. Renu is an inspiring Director who conveys the beliefs and values of the organization in each interaction she has with families and with staff.” – Michelle Fox
Educational Consultant, Ulcca Joshi Hansen, PhD
Specialist in School Placement Guidance
As a fierce advocate of student-centered learning environments, Ulcca Joshi Hansen believes that educators must embrace each child as an individual so that learners become self-confident, courageous adults. She asserts that a school must fit the child – rather than require the child to fit the school. Ulcca is passionate in her stance “that children become what they experience and do – and that school is a huge part of where young people get to experience the richness of who they are.”
In her work as a consultant, Ulcca’s aim is to make sure that parents are informed and aware of the best choice of action to meet the needs of their children. It is in this particular area that Ulcca’s expertise will enhance the breadth of services that SAGE Center has to offer our discerning population.
Ulcca has worked in public education for over twenty years. She has served in a range of organizations and roles, all of which help inform her understanding of the culture, climate and work of schools and how they may best be designed to support the developmental and learning needs of children.
Ulcca began her career as an elementary and early childhood educator in New Jersey, and later spent fifteen years working directly with teachers, leaders, schools and districts in a variety of roles in the public, private and non-profit sector. Whether her job has entailed being a researcher, non-profit leader, policy advocate or organizational consultant, the guiding principle behind her work is promoting and supporting student-centered learning environments that maximize the unique potential of individual children. Ulcca has spent thousands of hours understanding research across a range of disciplines that should be shaping how schools are organized to best serve learners. Her professional projects have allowed her to interview and work with hundreds of teachers and school leaders in hundreds of schools internationally and across the United States.
In 2014, Ulcca founded Educating Potential to focus on the work she believed would make the most difference in the lives of individual students and families: helping parents better understand what science tells us children need – as human beings and as unique learners – so that they can make better choices about their child’s education.
In addition to working directly with families and students, Ulcca focuses on writing, advocacy and consulting aimed at ensuring that parents have meaningful access to schools that can support the needs of their individual children. This includes having the knowledge they need to ensure that their child’s school fits their child, rather than struggling to make their child fit a school. This is the focus of her forthcoming book, “The Future of Smart.” Ulcca also conducts trainings for schools and educators around issues of educational equity and diversity in schools, and on how to make the shift towards coaching high school students in making decisions about their own educational pathways.
Over the course of her career, Ulcca has consulted with numerous organizations including the US Department of Education, the American Institute for Research’s Great Teachers and Leaders Program; Stand for Children; the National Center for Assessment; the Massachusetts, Georgia and New Jersey Departments of Education; Oxford University and the British government. She serves as a Lecturer at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, and an Adjunct at the University of Denver where she teaches education policy.
Ulcca holds a BA in Philosophy and German from Drew University, and a certificate in early childhood and elementary education with a focus on special education from St. Elizabeth’s College. She earned her PhD (DPhil) in Education and Philosophy from Oxford University and a JD from Harvard Law School. She has been recognized nationally for her academic achievements and her commitment to public service through education as a 1997 Harry S. Truman Scholar; a 2001 British Marshall Scholar; and a 2005 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. She continues to be active mentoring young people about their educational, career and personal pathways through leadership programs such as these.
Ulcca has two children, both of whom attend a local public school, the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning. She first encountered SAGE when she was looking for educational supports for her older son, and is pleased to be able to join a team of professionals who are committed to supporting parents and students in finding or creating an educational experience that maximizes a child’s unique potential.
In an excerpt from her “Open Letter to Parents” Ulcca writes: “I know that every single child is a sacred being with unique skills, dispositions, talents and interests. And I believe that what the world needs is for each child’s unique potential to be seen, valued, nurtured and celebrated … I know that actions are more powerful than words; that children become what they experience and do – and that school is a huge part of where young people get to experience the richness of who they are. I believe that children should grow into self-confident, courageous adults, who are not afraid to fail and get back up, who have a sense of wonder about the world and a desire to keep learning about it. I believe the world will benefit most from children becoming adults who are willing to dig deep to discover the things that matter most; who appreciate the value of long-term outcomes; and who are willing to stand up for their beliefs."
Bethany McCabe, MS OTR/L
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville
Bethany received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree from Washington University School of Medicine in December 2001. She immediately began her career in Occupational Therapy in January of 2002. She has taken continuing education courses throughout her career, including topics on sensory integration, diet, and alternative treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder, PDD, and ADD/ADHD.
Bethany began her career working in hand therapy, specializing in fine motor rehabilitation and strengthening, and became an expert in custom-splinting. She added pediatric occupational therapy experience in 2004, working for a private practice in early intervention.
Bethany continued her path working with children in 2010, when she and her young family moved to Mount Pleasant, SC, where she worked for the Charleston County School District.
After taking a year off to travel and homeschool her children, Bethany and her husband chose to settle in the Boulder, CO area. She opened her own practice, serving children in their natural environments, such as the home or school, in order to increase the carryover of skills learned within a therapeutic setting. Since arriving in Boulder, Bethany has also worked with a local gifted children’s middle-high school.
Bethany has a keen interest and insight of the sensory, fine motor and developmental needs that children may have to get through a typical school day. She is proficient in various assessments, including sensory, visual motor and perceptual skills, as well as fine and gross motor development.
Bethany is thrilled to join The SAGE Center because she believes strongly in the holistic treatment of a child, and that all children deserve an individualized program specialized to his or her needs. She loves working with children and their families and other professionals because it truly “takes a village.”
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville
A self-taught musician and performer since age 6, Whitney’s keen listening ear has guided her through her educational, professional and artistic pursuits.
With a BA in Spanish from Hamilton College, Whitney arrived in the Denver/Boulder area as a VISTA volunteer and never left. Here she has served as bilingual advocate to families and children for over 20 years. Here she has evolved into a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and rock music performer. Here she is also a Kundalini Yoga instructor, specializing in Naad Yoga – that of the sacred, sound current.
Merging these pursuits whenever possible for healing, growth, self-awareness and self-love is Whitney’s passion. Utilizing contemplative listening, and tuning into the subtler realms of sound and expression, Whitney lets the music make the space to honor the spoken and the silent. Her heart and student-centered approach as Music Specialist weaves another unique and sparkling thread through the brilliant tapestry that is SAGE Center’s amazing faculty.
Cynthia Shiko, OTR, CMT
As a parent, bodywork professional and occupational therapist, Cindy consistently observes the connection between the brain and body as the foundation of one’s abilities (adaptive and functional) and challenges (disorganized and stressful). The nervous system impacts our physical skills, emotional regulation and behavioral responses.
The modalities Cindy provides include movement and reflex integration, sensory processing strategies, auditory, vestibular and visual input, and cranial sacral therapy to augment her work in pediatric occupational therapy. Cindy is a creative problem-solver and combines assessments and evidence-based techniques with experience and intuition to address each child’s gifts and potential.
Often in life, experiences come full circle, and so has Cindy’s professional journey. She began her education in occupational therapy at Colorado State University in 1980. She left the program after a year due to not finding the right fit, as she was looking for a holistic and creative approach to health care. Cindy moved to Steamboat Springs to ski and identify an educational direction. She chose a healing profession of massage therapy, attended the Boulder School of Massage Therapy, and became a Certified Massage Therapist in 1985. Cindy had a successful career for 12 years in private practice and teaching courses at BSMT.
However, a hand injury provided a stimulus to change course. Cindy’s recent involvement as a parent with a pediatric occupational therapist (who specialized in sensory integration) inspired her return to the occupational therapy field. Cindy returned to CSU and earned a double major Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies, and Occupational Therapy in 2000.
Cindy’s work as a registered occupational therapist began in school settings; a Head Start preschool in Fort Collins, and BOCES Schools in Weld County. She was employed at the Mapleton Center of Boulder Community Hospital from 2000-2007. Cindy was initially part time in hand therapy and part time in pediatrics, and soon became a full time pediatric occupational therapist. In the Pediatric Rehabilitation department, her roles included being a Wheel Chair and Mobility/Assistive Augmentative Communication specialist, and a member of the Autism Team. Additionally, Cindy consulted with a home health agency for home safety and equipment needs.
Cindy has had a private practice since 2006. She works with clients in her Boulder office, contracts with Imagine in the Early Intervention and Autism Spectrum Disorder programs and also as an Assistive Technology consultant. In addition, Cindy works with students at Boulder Country Day School.
Cindy’s association with the SAGE Center reinforces our shared values of team collaboration, family education, home support, and creative comprehensive intervention.