Senior Educational Therapist,
As Senior Educational Therapist at SAGE Center for Gifted, Kat Gibbon's background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Moravian College and a Certification in Early Childhood Education from the State of Colorado Department of Human Services. Kat has taught in a number of educational settings, which include Mackintosh Academy, Boulder Country Day School, and Boulder Journey School.
For many years now, Kat has maintained a steady pace at SAGE Center – guiding and teaching students individually and in groups. She has designed and implemented individualized support plans, addressing the strengths and needs of gifted students through project-based, experiential learning experiences, and activities tailored to the child or adolescent. Detailed session summaries are written to outline the goals and progress of each client and how those goals are being addressed through lesson planning. Kat has also designed homeschool and SAGE Center curriculums for students with complex academic needs and strengths, in addition to traveling to Costa Rica to support SAGE clients, working directly with parents, children, and educators in school and home settings.
At SAGE Center, we support the whole individual through cognitive, affective and regulatory support and this framework informs the planning and direct support of our gifted clients. Kat’s unique strengths include the application of creative, art modalities to support the development of positive coping strategies, self-regulation, and a positive self-concept, building upon the strengths of the individual.
This work with gifted children also includes meeting with teachers, school administrators and clinical therapists to help guide children and their parents through the complexities of support including cognitive enrichment, social-emotional coaching, sensory and emotional regulation, as well as trauma-informed care. Kat has been mentored and trained under the guidance of Executive Director, Renu Rose, over many years and this intensive mentorship in the field of gifted education, combined with her years of experience in working with children in a myriad of capacities has polished her to be one of the keenest and insightful educators of gifted and twice-exceptional children.
Kat has previous experience working with at-risk adolescent girls, women, and families in need as well as the elderly in hospice. Her work with individuals with diverse needs and strengths has informed her work at SAGE with complex children, adolescents, and young adults.
As an artist, Kat frequently calls upon her experience as a source of inspiration for her work as a therapist. Her skill set includes photography, illustration, printmaking, sculpture, sewing, felting, and therapeutic puppetry. Experience and endless experimentation have provided Kat a resourceful lexicon for developing new ways of communicating through Art.
Kat is pursuing a Masters Degree in Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy with a focus on how the arts support post-traumatic growth as it relates to Intergenerational Trauma.
“I never feel limited by creating; on the contrary, my world opens up to expansive possibilities. Sharing this with the children at SAGE has provided me with a different approach to reach my students. My hope is for children to find comfort and new ways of communicating through the Arts." – Kat Gibbons
Molly A. Hughes
July, 2018. Senior Educational Therapist, Molly Hughes has been promoted to Educational Director and will oversee the training and supervision of our educational team. Molly will maintain a direct case load, continuing to utilize her exceptional talents to serve the children and families at SAGE. Molly has been promoted to a leadership role to assist Executive Director, Ms. Renu B. Rose in clinical/educational supervision and administrative responsibilities, allowing Ms. Rose to support the growth of SAGE Center state-wide and nationally and provide direct consultative care to larger numbers of families in need.
Molly began her teaching career at a child and youth psychiatric facility and discovered early on that children cannot learn if their social and emotional needs are not met. This experience cultivated her ability to listen for not only what is said but also what is not said, helping children identify and articulate their feelings.
Molly comes to the SAGE Center with over twenty years experience as an educator, teaching all levels from preschool to college. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English Education from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Northern Colorado. Whether teaching remedial reading, college composition, literature, or grammar, Molly seeks to create an emotionally safe environment for students to explore ideas, take risks, learn, and grow.
After leaving the classroom to spend more time with her own two gifted kids, Molly was drawn to SAGE’s focus on the gifted population. She recognizes that each gifted child has a distinctive blend of strengths and challenges, and she is passionate about meeting the unique needs of each individual. Because gifted children are so multi-faceted, Molly appreciates SAGE’s multi-disciplinary team approach where a variety of experts share their perspectives of those facets, contributing to a holistic view of the individual.
Molly is excited for the opportunity to help kids with incredible aptitude reach their true potential and to learn and grow alongside them.
Ann Collier Adams
Ann has a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Gifted Education through the University of Cincinnati. She completed her Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. From there, she taught for three years in a multi-age school in the Chicago suburb, Morton Grove. Ann currently holds a Colorado teaching license in elementary education.
Ann taught grades 3/4 and 1/2 for three years in the Chicago area. During this time she worked with diverse students whose families came from all over the world, students who were English language learners, as well as students with special needs.
This past spring Ann completed her practicum in a gifted Kindergarten classroom at Rick’s Center for Gifted Children, where she learned about the Reggio Emilia approach, which focuses on the integration of art and nature into discovery-based learning.
Ann has also worked as a private tutor, nanny, and camp counselor, creating individualized social-emotional and academic learning experiences.
In her free time, Ann enjoys skiing, hiking, trying new restaurants with her fiancée, wood burning, and playing with their two dogs at the park.
However, Ann is most passionate about teaching and working with students with exceptional needs. She believes strongly in whole-child education – meeting the academic, social-emotional, and physical needs of the child.
“My holistic approach matches the vision and mission of the SAGE Center. I appreciate that the SAGE Center provides a safe space for students to understand and showcase their strengths and talents. I look forward to building strong relationships with my students and their parents, as well as individualizing instruction to challenge and extend students’ potential.” – Ann Collier
Annie Behrent comes to the SAGE Center with 8 years of experience teaching students with a variety of learning differences.
After she received her BS in Psychology from the University of Colorado in 2007, Annie worked at a Wilderness Therapy Intervention program leading and teaching at-risk youth through the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This experience helped foster her passion for working with children who need an alternative approach to education. She earned her Special Education teaching license from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and began teaching at a local public school.
In 2010, Annie and her husband moved to Salt Lake City where she began teaching resource classes at a suburban high school, and soon after became the department chair of the Special Education Department.
In 2011, she earned her Master’s Degree in Education, focusing on Instructional Design and culminating in a capstone research project about effective reading instruction for non-traditional students in secondary schools. Through her classroom and administrative background, Annie has developed a deep understanding of school systems and the importance of individualized learning experiences for students.
From her time as a high school teacher, Annie has gained experience helping students prepare for college and career readiness, including the ACT, as well as other post-secondary transition services. She provides test-taking strategies that include enhancing vocabulary and reading comprehension to reducing test anxiety and other coping skills necessary during high stakes testing. She also has knowledge regarding services and resources for students transitioning from high school into adulthood.
As a teacher, Annie's priority has always been to create an environment where students feel safe, comfortable, and excited to learn. Her classroom experience consists of teaching across all core subject areas and in a variety of classroom settings. She has taught in self-contained Special Ed classrooms, Resource classrooms, General Ed classrooms, and one-on-one grouping.
Regardless of the setting, Annie's strength is in differentiation and scaffolding so that all students can access the material in a way that fits their learning style. She also has strong experience in developing accommodation strategies for students that allow them to participate in their least restrictive environment, while still feeling confident about their ability to learn the material. Annie's ability to differentiate and accommodate in a meaningful and effective way is essential for students with special needs as well as gifted children.
Upon moving back to Colorado, she took the opportunity to explore her career options outside of a traditional school system so that she could find a way to hone in on her passions within education. Annie is excited to be a part of SAGE Center, where every student receives a deeply individualized and collaborative education plan that will help foster unique strengths and interests.
As SAGE Center experiences continued growth to meet the needs of families with gifted and twice-gifted students, we are delighted to introduce Kerry Bracco as a new Educational Therapist. Kerry has five years of teaching and mentoring experience with young people in diverse learning environments.
While attending Phillips Exeter Academy, a coeducational, independent, secondary school in her home state of New Hampshire, Kerry was surrounded by gifted peers and immersed in a unique, discussion-based curriculum that encouraged students to think for themselves, make mistakes, innovate, and explore the unknown. Though she counts these four years as some of the most challenging – both academically and emotionally – it was through this struggle that she realized the unparalleled value of a positive support network of adults who balanced lessons of resilience and self-compassion.
After receiving her BA in Anthropology from Dartmouth College in 2012, Kerry interned at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and though she loved stewarding priceless relics that would serve as teaching tools for thousands of visitors, she realized she desired to engage with learners on a more personal level.
Not long after, Kerry accepted a position at The Taft School, an independent boarding school in western Connecticut. Kerry’s warmth, patience, flexibility, and openness positioned her as a valuable resource to many of her students. Along with being an English teacher, admissions rep, coach, dorm parent, and advisor, she often filled the role of informal counselor and academic support.
Understanding the deep impact “perceived” academic and social/emotional “success” (or lack thereof) has on students’ confidence and development, Kerry became deeply invested in working with gifted and twice-gifted students. She realized that the cognitive differences and/or affect and ability to appropriately regulate in the classroom and dorm, could make day-to-day tasks, assessments, and co-existing in a tight-knit community a whirl of stressors. Along with opening her door to these students, she developed and implemented inclusive pedagogy by differentiating her instruction and assessments allowing gifted, outside-the-box thinkers and creators ways to demonstrate their strengths and unique understanding of class material. Though she often worked one-on-one with her students, Kerry, a former college athlete, recognized and drew on the strengths of a different type of team: an assembly of educators, counselors, and administrators who were driven by the common goal of supporting students’ distinct needs much like SAGE Center’s own team of compassionate professionals.
In 2015, Kerry earned her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Having recognized the importance of students’ sense of belonging in their learning community, she focused on teaching individuals social/emotional skills to encourage empathetic connections and respectful boundaries between peers as the basis for a safe and effective learning environment. Having taken additional graduate courses in school counseling and mental health counseling, Kerry continues to be dedicated to growing her understanding of family systems and adolescent development and psychology, specifically as it pertains to the needs of and approaches to working with twice-exceptional and gifted children.
As a certified Kripalu yoga instructor (E-RYT 200), Kerry’s mindfulness practice informs her approach to personal development by integrating skills that guide children to develop a “toolkit” for emotional regulation.
In addition to practicing yoga, Kerry can be found running, hiking, skiing (all things Colorado!), listening to mellow music, Audiobooks and Podcasts, and fueling her creative passions through drawing, painting, jewelry making, and concocting something spicy or sweet in her kitchen. One of the many reasons she is drawn to gifted and twice-exceptional children is for the opportunity to share and explore together movement, sounds, colors, textures, tastes, and smells. She looks forward to designing activities that incorporate sensory tools and strategies in her sessions.
Kerry shares that upon meeting with Renu, it took only moments for her to realize that the mission of SAGE aligned so closely with her own: strength-based approaches, exploring and encouraging children’s inborn passions while nurturing their cognitive, affective, and regulatory abilities. This approach speaks to Kerry’s intention to empower her students to be their true selves while helping them to navigate expectations and develop valuable life skills.
In addition, SAGE Center for Gifted places emphasis on the involvement and inclusion of the family on a child’s unique journey. This factor aligns deeply with Kerry’s personal experience, as she has immense gratitude for the unconditional support of her own family throughout her life.
Kerry shares, “…there would be no better place to manifest my passion for supporting children and their families and to continue to grow my knowledge, than under Renu’s mentorship and surrounded by the talented team at SAGE.”
Heather Groff comes to SAGE with over 13 years of experience working with gifted children. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with elementary licensure from Adams State University and a Master’s of Education in Gifted and Talented from Regis University. Her Master’s capstone project was the collaborative development of a summer camp for gifted children that is still a popular destination for students in Jefferson County.
Heather’s journey as a teacher began as an educational assistant at a private school for gifted children. She related well to the academic and social-emotional needs of this special population, as it reminded her of her own childhood.
After taking time off to be at home with her two children, Heather returned to that same private school to teach a 1st and 2nd grade combined classroom of gifted students. Many of these children were twice exceptional and sought an environment where all their needs would be met and their differences celebrated.
As a current Gifted and Talented Facilitator in Douglas County School District, she serves as a leader and mentor for other GT Facilitators and teachers. Heather has become a resource in the district for early childhood and primary gifted support.
As an educator, Heather’s strengths are rooted in an understanding of the abilities and needs of gifted learners, differentiation of all content areas, and collaboration with students, parents, and teachers to create the best environments for children to blossom. She is able to connect with her students quickly, value who they are, and recognize where they are in their journey.
As a mother of two gifted children, Heather also believes in advocating and supporting education from the parent lens. She has devoted the past ten years to participating on the board of Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children (JAGC) to support parents, students, and teachers, of gifted children as they make their way on this adventure.
Outside of the educational and advocacy part of her life, Heather enjoys camping, reading and playing games with her family. She and her husband have recently discovered the joy of baking together.
Heather shares, “…finding SAGE is as much a haven for me as it is for the families who seek support here. I love the holistic and collaborative approach SAGE uses to meet the needs of these special children. Renu Rose has provided such an amazing vision and sanctuary for families and professionals alike. It simply feels like coming home.”
Louisa Harris is our outstanding Math Specialist at SAGE Center! Louisa has an M.A. in Mathematics from CU Boulder, and has taken doctoral-level courses in Mathematics Education, also at CU Boulder. She has been teaching math since 2006, first as a graduate student, and then as an instructor for math departments as well as the Continuing Education program at CU.
Her goal as a teacher is to help students pursue an interest in mathematics, to help children gain confidence in their math abilities, and to discover how amazing math can really be! She believes math is a social activity, not an isolated endeavor, and that we all do math everyday without even noticing it! Louisa has a particular passion and expertise in inspiring girls in mathematics and will be a phenomenal role model and teacher to our girls at SAGE! We are so fortunate to have a passionate, competent, and gently supportive math specialist for all our children at SAGE who may need support in math.
Louisa shares, "I joined the SAGE Center because its vision for honoring students in a holistic way deeply resonates with me. I want to share my passion and expertise in math to encourage and inspire students of all ages to gain confidence, be successful, and have fun while doing math."
Educational Therapist, Math Specialty
Keir Hyatt believes in allowing and encouraging students to leave their comfort zones – to test the waters of their vulnerability while knowing that they are supported and nurtured.
With a BA in History from Goucher College, he has taught History and English classes. But as a high school instructor for ten years, Keir’s focus has primarily been Math and has tutored with students of a wide age range, specializing in those with limited confidence and/or math phobias. He has also coached lacrosse, including five years as the head coach of a high school team.
In all of these arenas, his primary goal has been to foster confidence in a challenging environment. Keir has found that the formative years of adolescence require a compassionate and consistent presence on the part of teachers.
“From the very beginning of my teaching career I have been drawn to the emotional side of education. I believe that the interplay between confidence/fear and comfort/challenge is the arena in which deep, meaningful and holistic education can occur. I am rarely happier, or find myself more useful, than in helping students with and through their struggles.
“I am very excited to discover SAGE, and am elated to be on the team. SAGE Center’s mission is a wonderful articulation of my life’s work. I couldn't be more pleased to be in an environment where I find myself fully supported in my passion for providing a safe place for young people to face their challenges.” – Keir Hyatt
Mary Ethel Kellogg
Mary Ethel Kellogg is a Learning Specialist, who joins SAGE Center for Gifted from Running River School in Boulder. Her experience in Montessori, Waldorf, and nature-based learning methods is a wonderful complement to the scope of services that SAGE offers our gifted and twice-gifted students.
Mary has a Masters in Education and Endorsement Reading and a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education, Certification in Regular Education K-12, both from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA where she also was an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Special Education/Teacher Education. Mary holds a National Board Certification in Early Childhood through Adult/Exceptional Needs Specialist.
Mary brings “a magical ability to call-forth the author of one’s own unique talents.” A grateful parent shared that her son “…has excellent reading comprehension and is very smart, but he also has dysgraphia, sensory processing disorder, slow processing for most input, and auditory processing disorder (in a nutshell). He was having a very hard time staying interested in class and paying attention, and would completely check out when any writing was necessary. After just a few months of working with Mary he had a whole new process for putting his thoughts down in pictures and then writing them (either with voice dictation, dictating to Mary or writing himself), and he actually told us he now enjoyed writing.” Mary states that she will always continue in this calling to help children find their full potential.
The boy’s mother continues, “I could also tell that Mary really appreciated him as a person, and appreciated his gifts - his artistic abilities and his sense of humor really stand out - so she has that very necessary ability to see children as individuals and to help them see their own strengths. His self-confidence really increased over the three months he was able to work with her.”
“As I reflect on the opportunity to work for SAGE Center for Gifted,” Mary says, “the first thought that comes to mind is “blessings.” So much of the path I have walked in life is reflected in the philosophy and passion I see at SAGE Center. I believe that the opportunity to help children find their gifts while working through their challenges – in tandem with collaborating with parents to help them discover how to better understand their children – transforms families and communities.”
SAGE Center warmly welcomes Mary and we look forward to adding her exceptional skills sets and training in the fields of Special Education, Reading and Learning Differences, as well as Gifted Education to our exceptional faculty array.
Abby Koehler joins SAGE Center for Gifted with over ten years of gifted teaching experience. Her classroom experience includes five years as an elementary gifted teacher, one year as a gifted pull-out teacher, and one year as a teacher for twice-exceptional students.
As an artist, singer, actor, and story-teller, she is a deeply creative individual who strives to integrate experiential and aesthetic learning into every facet of her instruction. Abby’s eagerness to expand her professional and personal growth prompted her to seek a position of Educational Therapist within the SAGE community. She values the whole-child approach the SAGE Center takes towards reaching each individual.
“I believe students learn and grow where they feel known, respected and valued. Developing relationships with each student allows me to better understand each individual’s strengths, areas for growth, and interests on a personal level.”
Abby earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development & Family Studies from Colorado State University (CSU) and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Denver (DU). Her graduate degree focused on Aesthetics in Education, or as Abby describes it, “teaching through the arts”. The pure enjoyment and accessibility that art brings to the learning environment can open doors to new and exciting worlds for students. As a licensed K-6 teacher she has witnessed the transformational power art and creativity has in bringing life to education.
“As a teacher, my goal is to ignite the hearts of each student by infusing each lesson with opportunities for creativity and exploration. The ability to think critically and solve problems requires courage, persistence, and ingenuity. This is why I love art. The act of picking up a paintbrush and splashing a line of red paint across an empty canvas requires a bold spirit. Taking time to transform what seems like a muddy mess into a personal masterpiece develops a resilient heart. Seeing potential in materials, words, inspiration, and experiences feed our innovative minds.”
Abby’s success as an educator comes from her genuine interest in the lives of each child. Developing relationships with each student and family allows Abby to better understand his or her strengths, areas for growth, and interests on a personal level. These connections are strengthened through her playfulness, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion for the arts. The result is students who are excited, engaged and invested in learning.
“I see creativity as a muscle that can be built through time and practice. Humans need opportunities to express themselves whether it is through writing, reading, drawing, sculpting, or playing. By offering a space to safely develop creativity, we can help nurture the heart-mind connection.”
Abby is excited to work with a talented team of like-minded educators and professionals who understand the complexities of giftedness and honor these extraordinary individuals to thrive in the world!
Christina is honored to join the SAGE community whose mission inspires her to be a better educator. Christina has taught middle and high school students for nearly 10 years in a variety of settings ranging from private schools to under-served populations. Her greatest passion is to inspire students to become successful learners by helping them identify their strengths and learning styles.
Christina inspires her students with Young Adult literature and has an expertise in supporting struggling readers with material that both engages their personal interests while pushing their reading abilities. She has training and experience teaching special education, ESL, language arts, reading intervention and International Baccalaureate courses.
Personal relationships in the classroom are paramount. Students can't be reached academically without compassion and emotional understanding. Christina seeks out the strengths in her students in order to support their learning needs. Each child is a unique blend and their accomplishments should be celebrated in order to stimulate motivation and facilitate their growth.
Christina graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from DePauw University. Post-college, she worked with children as a summer camp counselor, outdoor educator, and soccer coach before returning back to the university to formalize herself as an educator. Christina enrolled in a M.A. education program at the University of Colorado at Denver and was trained as a secondary language arts teacher.
Educational Therapist, Math Specialist
Brittany graduated with a BS in Psychology from Colorado State University in 2007. She earned her teaching license from the Stanley British Primary School Teacher Preparation Program in 2010, and is working to complete her MA in Human Development and Education at the University of Colorado, Denver.
Brittany taught grades K-1-2 and 3-4-5 for five years at Stanley British Primary School, a school that teaches to the development of the whole child, social-emotionally, physically, and academically. She has also worked as a private instructional tutor, creating individualized academic and social-emotional curriculum.
Teaching math in various settings, Brittany has met with students individually, in small groups, and also within the school environment. She has five years experience developing math curricula and projects, both to support children in need of remediation and to extend math concepts for those ready for further challenge. Her expertise utilizes the concrete-representational-abstract method of instruction, so beneficial for students in creating meaningful math connections.
Brittany learned how to meet the needs of children through creative, thoughtful planning – centered in the strengths and interests of each child, while also developing areas in need of growth. She is passionate about developing a lifelong love of learning using a child-centered, constructivist approach. Brittany has witnessed the incredible joy, pride, and empowerment that can come from a child who has truly been seen and heard, allowed to make choices, take ownership of her/his learning, and learn in meaningful ways. She believes in providing gifted learners rich learning experiences that allow for application of skills and knowledge so they may flourish cognitively and affectively.
“I am so excited to be continuing this meaningful work through The SAGE Center, a place that truly honors and expands on the gifts all children bring to this world.” – Brittany McKenna
Educational Therapist, Specialist in Science and Math
Debbie Sengsavath believes that “Passion … defines us. It sets us apart from one another. It drives us to achieve excellence in our goals. As an educator in the scientific field for twenty-nine years, my passion is – still – to help others succeed and feel confident within themselves.”
Debbie holds a Bachelor’s degree (1991) with a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry. She continued on to earn Master’s degree from the University of Colorado (1993) where her major was Secondary Education with an emphasis in Secondary Science. She is a master teacher, nationally board certified in Biology (2004 to present) from the University of Phoenix, a Google certified teacher, and she has taught at the college level. Debbie has a Master’s Degree in Technology and Administration and has worked as an instructor for adults wishing to become a principal.
Along with extensive science teaching, Debbie has also been involved with the AVID program for twenty years. The methodologies provided as a framework for this program help to ensure every student’s success. A major component in AVID is the tutorial where students are able to write down their academic questions, ask additional questions and summarize their learning – all of which are exceptional academic techniques for learners.
When working with students Debbie coordinates their strengths with powerful techniques to enhance their learning, such as, determining how a student learns best, identifying situations that allow a student to feel comfortable, and empowering a student to understand.
Outside of the classroom, Debbie’s life is filled with various activities. Her two children are both in the Air Force; a daughter is stationed in Colorado and a son in Texas. In her spare time, she is a photographer digitally capturing Colorado’s beautiful landscapes, wildlife and geology. Her favorite author is Stephen King whose technical writing “challenges the mind to think on very different levels”. Also a fan of resource conservation, Debbie has “diligently worked to xeriscape my yard, using native plants adapted to our altitude and soil.”
Debbie’s first passion is love of the scientific world. “It allows me to continually question and seek new information. It allows me to integrate the knowledge of our past with the limitless boundaries of our future. Our wealth of knowledge is growing exponentially and it’s a challenge to integrate this within the classroom. As my passion for the biological and chemical sciences has developed … science has provided me with many opportunities in which to influence the minds of tomorrow”.
SAGE Center welcomes a remarkable science and math teacher to our faculty. We extend our warmest welcome to you Deb! A science and math teacher with a keen mind and deeply compassionate heart!
Laura Thompson-Beato joins SAGE Center for Gifted with 17 years experience teaching gifted students. She has recently retired from 29 years of teaching K-8th grades, including middle school English, math, and especially science. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the gifted center program at Evergreen Middle School in 2006, which grew from 25 students to over 150 within three years. Laura designed and implemented a gifted electives class on learning styles as well as creating a week long, overnight “Wildlife Forensics” camp for gifted rising 7th graders. As a result of this work, she was awarded the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented “Gifted Teacher of the Year” award in 2010.
Laura was also awarded the prestigious Milken Foundation National Educator award in 2000 when she was presented $25,000 and a star-studded trip to an education gala in Los Angeles.
Laura’s education started at Miami of Ohio, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and later earned a Master’s in education, with a focus on science from the University of Colorado. Her credentials include holding a gifted teaching endorsement from the state of Colorado (2009) and a certificate in gifted education from the University of Denver (2005). Add to these accomplishments countless hours of gifted training with Jefferson County Schools, and a yearlong training in gifted reading with Joseph Renzulli through the University of Connecticut (2008). Laura fell in love with working with gifted students in 2001 when she started teaching in the Jefferson County Schools gifted center at Devinny Elementary. To share her passion for gifted children, Laura has also presented at several conferences in Colorado.
Laura has experienced the gifted child from all sides, as she also has two highly gifted teenagers of her own at home. They have been in the Jefferson County School’s gifted program since first grade, and are now taking advantage of AP classes and concurrent enrollment in college classes in high school. This gives her insight into the gifted child from a holistic perspective, not just the intellectual piece. She has been in the parenting trenches with the overexcitabilities, debilitating perfectionism, focus on justice and the sense of humor that often accompanies the gifted label.
One of the best things about working with gifted children is the intellectual and emotional diversity that can be found in this population. One of her favorite quotes about gifted kids is, “you’ve met one gifted kid, and you’ve met ONE gifted kid.” Laura is thrilled to have found SAGE Center, an oasis for gifted young people. Laura states, “What has attracted me most to SAGE is the focus on strength-based work with students. It’s crucial, when working with gifted students to focus on their interests and their strengths rather than spending too much time on deficits. A well-crafted lesson with students will help them create the need to improve their deficits in order to follow their passions.” Laura is over the moon about finding SAGE where she can continue to follow her passion and strengths, working with gifted children. Laura also loves hiking, aerial yoga, skiing, volunteering in the community, comedy, and travel.
Kim’s professional talents are rooted in communication and teaching. As Secondary English instructor of Literary Analysis and Creative Writing, Kim worked to cultivate students’ ability to write in a formal structured style, analyzing evidence quality, proving a claim, and enhancing writing through organizational models and drafting feedback.
During her years of teaching at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School near Lakewood, CO, Kim worked as a Professional Notetaker and tutor for a special needs student in 2009-2012; and from 2014 to 2017 as an English teacher in grades 7-9 where they experienced nearly 80% growth in writing scores for fall of 2017.
“My work as an educator at the very rigorous and academically exceptional D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High gave me the foundation to work with gifted students. As a notetaker and then as a teacher, I gained insight into the correlating power of instruction and methodology through years of observation and practice. One of the aspects I loved most was seeing the growth of students as they began to master the skills necessary to not only succeed in the classroom, but also succeed in life through hard work, integrity, and perseverance.”
Kim brings another gift – the meditative martial art of T’ai Chi Chuan, which has been her daily practice since 2001. One of the particular ways her personal practice informs her teaching practice is in integrating breathing techniques to benefit students who experience test anxiety and to support trauma victims in the healing process.
Kim shares, “One of the unique aspects I bring is the ability to teach the power of mindfulness and awareness of the self. I guided my Inner Peace T’ai Chi students through these modes of understanding in the aftermath of the Aurora Theater Shooting. In the few years that I worked with them, I was able to see my students heal from their trauma exponentially faster than my fellow Columbine High School graduates. Through my lessons, students began to see themselves as their greatest allies.”
Kim continues, “SAGE Center for the Gifted represents many individualized facets of my life coming together. By focusing on the holistic approach, SAGE recognizes the gifts of an individual as well as the importance of unity of the self. For many years I have divided myself into many pieces – from teacher, student, writer, and someone who has found peace after trauma, to mentor, friend and confidant. As I begin this journey with SAGE, I am filled with hope and understanding that I will bring to my students so that they do not have to choose one aspect of themselves to focus on, and thereby be everything they choose instead of just one piece of themselves.“