Ann Collier, Educational Therapist

Ann 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. This past year Ann has been diligently completing her Master's degree through the University of Cincinnati in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Gifted Education. She will be finished upon completing her thesis project this summer. 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

Assistant Director, Educational Therapist
Kat Gibbons
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

January 2017. Renu Rose, Founder and Executive Director, is honored to announce that Kat Gibbons will serve in a new, expanded role as Assistant Director of SAGE Center for Gifted.

Kat Gibbons has been employed at SAGE Center as an Educational Therapist since the spring of 2014. Kat's dedication to families and her deep connection to our students demonstrate her perceptive ability to oversee our program. Kat continues to nurture the SAGE philosophy, a holistic system of support to gifted children and families in need. Equally passionate and effective, she tends the strengths of each individual, compelling a sense of freedom and accomplishment.

For over 3 years, Kat maintained a steady pace at SAGE Center – guiding, teaching and counseling students individually and in groups. This work has included 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 navigated the diversity of experiences and roles with heightened awareness, patience and skill. This path has proven to be a rich opportunity to apply her cumulative expertise. It is a natural next step for Kat to transition into the role of direct leadership and administration.

Kat frequently calls upon her experience as an artist as a source of inspiration for her work as a therapist. Having taught herself to paint more than twenty years ago, she often finds the medium of art to be an alternative way of communicating with emotionally traumatized individuals who would otherwise be out of reach. Her skill set includes photography, illustration, printmaking, sculpture, sewing, felting, and therapeutic puppetry. Experience and endless experimentation has provided Kat a resourceful lexicon for developing new ways of communicating through Art.   

Kat is pursuing further studies in Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy and the intersection of trauma with the gifted population. “I never feel limited by creating; on the contrary, my world opens up to new possibilities. Sharing this with the children at SAGE has provided me with different ways of reaching my students. My hope is for children to find comfort and new ways of communicating through the Arts."  – Kat Gibbons

Educational Therapist,
Annie Behrent
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

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.

Educational Therapist,
Maria Cecilia de F. Cardoso Buckley, PhD, BCET

“Most of my life has been dedicated to helping persons who learn in different ways to build on their strengths and to not be afraid of their challenges. When teaching children with special needs at a public school in a poor area in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, my students captured my heart and moved me into a lifelong search to discover new ways to reach learners and to help them to grow.” – Maria Cecilia

Recognizing that she had a lot to learn in order to serve her students, Maria Cecilia continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with an MS in Behavioral Disabilities and a Ph.D. in Special Education / Educational Psychology. Her professional experience includes offering direct services to students, working with parents, explaining psycho-educational evaluation reports, writing support plans, giving educational assessments, forming teachers, training volunteers, doing case management and providing consultation. 

Having previously taught in elementary school and as a university professor, during the past eighteen years Maria Cecilia has worked primarily as a Learning Specialist at a highly regarded independent school in Denver, CO while keeping a small private practice. 

Maria Cecilia is active in an international not-for-profit association; through this organization, she has travelled extensively and has presented numerous workshops in Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe. Her practice reflects a broad understanding of humanity and multiculturalism. She has discovered there is a variety of abilities and gifts present in different groups of learners that are both intriguing and enchanting. 

Maria Cecilia enjoys working with persons of different ages with various types of strengths; she uses a personalized, goal oriented, strengths-based approach. “Listening to my students’ desires and needs also helps me to determine how to best use strategies and activities that are stress reducing, fun and enjoyable, such as mindfulness, movement and games.”

Among her interests are swimming, hiking, Nordic skiing, cooking, reading, music, travel, meditation, just being surrounded by nature, and most of all, enjoying the company of family and friends.

Maria became interested in the SAGE Center when she discovered the beauty of our interdisciplinary approach to learning for students who need a differentiated, personalized educational path.

Specific certification and training: Wilson Reading System Level I Certification; Dyslexia Practitioner Certification by the International Dyslexia Association; Orton-Gillingham Training; Handwriting Without Tears Certification; Board Certified Educational Therapist; Member of the Association of Educational Therapists

Math Specialist,
Louisa Harris
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

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,
Molly Hughes
SAGE Center, Denver/Boulder, Louisville

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.

Educational Therapist, Math Specialty,
Keir Hyatt
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

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

Educational Therapist,
Catherine Johnson
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

Catherine seeks to demystify writing and diffuse the myth that it is a talent you’re either born with or without. Rather, it’s a skill that can be learned – and enjoyed!

Catherine believes in reading as a powerful means of cultivating empathy and compassion, and understands that not all books speak to everyone the same way. Therefore, she encourages students to see literature as encompassing a variety of different “texts” – including movies and music – and find what inspires them, and their own path to engaging with the world. She teaches writing as a process that can be broken down into manageable tasks, and one that takes practice and patience. But she also advocates for writing as a powerful avenue of self-expression and creative discovery.

Building personal relationships with her students is the most important – and rewarding – part of teaching for Catherine. Education is not a “one size fits all” endeavor, and she is thrilled to work at the Sage Center where this kind of holistic, individualized approached is not only valued, but also fundamental to a student’s success.

Catherine has her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and English Literature from Whittier College, and a Master’s degree in Literature from American University, where she spent the last four and a half years teaching College Writing. She also has over four years of experience teaching theatre to elementary and high school students at the California Theatre Center in Sunnyvale, California.

Educational Therapist,
Christina Matteucci
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

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 McKenna
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

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 with Specialty in Spanish and Experiential Education,
Annaliese Miller
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

Annie Miller holds a B.A. in Anthropology and a certificate in Community Leadership from the University of Colorado and is a Certified Wilderness First Responder since 2006. 

Annie first began working with youth in 2004 when her love for nature and strong belief in experiential education led her to intern with CU Science Discovery Wilderness Summer Camps. She spent seven consecutive weeks in the field that summer connecting students to the earth, themselves and each other, and has been in love with that work ever since. 

Annie believes strongly in the transformative potential of being in the natural world and calls on her connection with nature to provide positive leadership and mentorship to the students she works with. She is drawn to the deeply thoughtful and holistic approach of The SAGE Center and the way in which each child is honored for his/her gifts. As a certified yoga instructor, she incorporates breath and movement in the work she does with youth. 

Annie currently teaches Spanish at Tara Performing Arts Waldorf high school and lives and works on an organic farm outside of Boulder. At the farm Annie co-leads a weekly farm school for 5-7 year olds during which the group connects in a multi-sensory way with all that is living and growing on the farm, works together on shared projects, and most importantly, sings, laughs and plays with gratitude for the bounty of the earth. During some of the summer months, Annie is often in Latin America leading immersion service-learning trips with high school students.

Educational Therapist,
Liz Rhodes
SAGE Boulder/Denver/Louisville

Elizabeth Copeland Rhodes is a warm, caring and talented educator. She has worked with children in various settings, including as a nanny and as a volunteer tutor for children of migrant agricultural workers.

Liz received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Additionally, she has a Colorado teaching licensure in secondary English. She taught high school English at Skyline High School in Longmont, CO, and will teach eighth grade English at Erie Middle School in the coming school year.

Liz finds personal connections and one-on-one work most rewarding. She looks forward to forming and nurturing relationships with students and families that honor the individual’s strengths, interests, and needs. Witnessing the moment, that spark of understanding within a child’s core, mirrors her deeply held beliefs about teaching.

“SAGE Center’s focus is on truly seeing students and providing a calm and inviting space, both physically and through instructors’ demeanors. SAGE is also a truly ideal environment both for teaching and learning. Instructors have the freedom to plan creative, individualized lessons and make changes and adaptations to best meet the needs of each student. Children experience an environment that is warm, caring, and honoring, and are able to participate actively in learning that is meaningful and relevant to them. I believe working with SAGE Center will help me grow tremendously as an educator, and will also prove grounding as I plan for my classes at Erie Middle School.” – Liz Rhodes

Learning Specialist,
Lisa Wipke
SAGE Center, Boulder/Denver/Louisville

Lisa Wipke has worked with children for over twenty years, starting as a classroom teacher both in traditional settings and in a magnet school for gifted and talented children. She shifted gears after having her own children and focused on struggling readers and reading intervention. After working for years in a school environment, she decided her skills would best serve in a private setting.

Lisa completed the Masters literacy program at CU Boulder, and is state certified as a Literacy Specialist, and has trained in Lindamood Bell reading program. Lisa has a B.A. in Economics and Business and an M.Ed. in Elementary Education. She works with a wide spectrum of reading differences and specializes in dyslexia.

“I absolutely love bringing the gift of reading to children. What draws me to SAGE is the educational philosophy. Looking at the whole child. The first qualities I notice when I meet and assess a child are not their weaknesses, but rather the gifts and strengths they bring to the world. That is our starting point. I may know exactly what to teach a child – but that child needs to know how much I care and that I see him/her as a whole person – before he/she will be fully receptive to what I can offer. SAGE not only supports this philosophy, but encourages it. This is the way in which I work and I am so thrilled to be part of an education center that is aligned with my personal beliefs.” – Lisa Wipke