Special Education


What is Affective Needs (AN)?

Affective Needs classrooms are self-contained classrooms for students with emotional disabilities that provide a strong emphasis on affective education, academics, and social skills programming. Emphasis is on replacing inappropriate behaviors with more socially acceptable ones. They offer a highly structured environment with individualized behavior management strategies and plans exist within these center classrooms.

 

What is Mild Moderate (MM)?

The Mild Moderate program serves children who have been identified as having mild to moderate special education needs.

 

 

Affective Needs Team

Alex Alspach, Affective Needs Teacher

What year did you begin teaching (working in education)?
I began teaching in 2014.

Where did you go to college?
I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University with a degree in Special Education K-12, an Elementary Education endorsement K-6, and a minor in Missions.

What is your favorite thing about being an educator?
My favorite thing about being a teacher is the relationships that are formed with students, their families, and coworkers. I love the mutual learning that takes place within these relationships- that is, we are all simultaneously student and teacher.

If a school day suddenly got canceled, how would you spend the day?
If school suddenly got cancelled on a nice day, I would probably go exploring for the best foods and maybe an outdoor adventure, however, usually school is cancelled for inclement weather in which case I would make myself a cup of coffee, a big breakfast, and have a Harry Potter movie marathon.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would have to be my mom’s or my abuelita’s cooking- maybe panuchos.

If you were not an educator, what do you think your job would be?
If I wasn’t a teacher, realistically, perhaps I would be a counselor. Unrealistically, I would be a fashion designer of beautiful trench coats.

What is something your students might be surprised to know about you?Most people are surprised to learn that I was born in Japan.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
The last thing that made me laugh out loud was a video of a bird with an evil laugh.

 

Jeffrey Mendenhall, Affective Needs Paraprofessional
jeffrey_mendenhall@dpsk12.org

What year did you enter education? 
Became a PARA in DPS in 2013

Where did you go to college?
Eastern Illinois University

What is your favorite thing about being an educator?
The kids

If the school day suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend the day?  With my son, playing

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Donuts

If you weren’t a teacher/educator, what do you think your job would be?  Artist/ competitive donut eater

What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t like potatoes

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
My wife answering these questions for me

 

Cassandra Jones, Affective Needs Paraprofessional
cassandra_jones@dpsk12.org

What year did you enter education?
I became teaching preschool full time in December 2010.  I taught preschool until moving to Denver in October 2018

Where did you go to college?
I graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a BA in Studio Arts/Visual Technology/Photography and a minor in Art History.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher/educator? 
My favorite thing about being an educator is watching kids using their creativity and imagination.  Also, being able to see the world through their eyes.

If the school day suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend the day? 
I would spend time outside running, climbing, cycling, or hiking with my dog.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pizza!

If you weren’t an educator, what do you think your job would be?
If I weren’t a teacher, I’d be a museum curator, athletic trainer, or zoologist.

What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
I love all sports and I love to run.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Armchair Expert podcast

Shabazz Rogers, Affective Needs Paraprofessional

Tracy Dodd, Affective Needs Mentor Teacher

 

Mild Moderate Team

Katie Hendershot, Mild Moderate Teacher
Kathryn_Hendershot@dpsk12.org

What year did you begin teaching?
2009 at Thomas Elementary in Flagstaff, Arizona. I started in DPS in 2010

Where did you go to college?
Northern Arizona University (Go Lumberjacks!)

What is your favorite thing about University Park Elementary?
The students! They come every day eager to learn and I cherish every moment I get to spend with them. Being a Special Education teacher I love watching all of the students’ grow over several years.

If a school day suddenly got canceled, how would you spend the day?
If it is in the winter you would probably find me up at Winter Park snowboarding ( I loooove snow days ). If it is in the spring time you would find me outside taking my daughter, Blake, for a walk with our dogs (Mac, Boston Terrier & Kobe, Chocolate Lab).

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is very embarrassing, but it would be mac & cheese. I love it! I can never get enough.

If you were not an educator, what do you think your job would be?
I’ve always thought a job in sports would be fun. I am a very competitive person whether it is in a professional setting or playing a game with family friends. In addition I have seen firsthand how fun a job in sports can be. My husband works for the Colorado Rapids and my father is the Athletic Director at UCSD and previously worked for USA Volleyball.

What is something your students might be surprised to know about you?
I think they would be surprised that I once taught students in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. I lived on a military base for a year and taught 1st-3rd graders.

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
My daughter Blake, she just started to squeal when she gets excited (she is 5 months old). It is so cute and fun to watch her find her voice!

 

Sam BryneSamantha Byrne, Mild Moderate Teacher
Samantha_Byrne@dpsk12.org

What year did you begin teaching?
 1995

Where did you go to college?
I have my B.A (Hons) from London University, Post Graduate Certificate of Education from Oxford University and my M.Ed from University of Phoenix

What is your favorite thing about University Park Elementary?
The wonderful warm, friendly feeling you get the minute you walk through the door. I can’t wait to get to know the staff and students.

If a school day suddenly got canceled, how would you spend the day?
With my two children and my Labradoodle.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Watermelon – so fresh and delicious (chocolate would have to come a close second!)

If you were not an educator, what do you think your job would be?
Probably nursing. I did join nursing school, but dropped out at the last minute. Definitely a job helping others.

What is something your students might be surprised to know about you?
I taught Ballet, Tap and Jazz dance for many many years!

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
My crazy Labradoodle “Indy”.  My daughter Emily and I decided to groom him ourselves – not the best idea 🙂

Learn more about Samantha Byrne

 

UPark_Elementary10004John Neuhalfen, Mild Moderate Paraprofessional
John_Neuhalfen@dpsk12.org

Where did you go to college?
University of Denver.

What is your favorite thing about University Park Elementary?
Parent involvement and support.

If a school day suddenly got canceled, how would you spend the day?
Hanging out watching movies with my kids.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sushi.

If you weren’t a Kindergarten Paraprofessional, what do you think your job would be?
Stock broker.

 

Brett Keenan, Mild Moderate Paraprofessional

What year did you enter education?
2006 Fisher Early Learning Center

Where did you go to college?
Uniiversity of Georgia (Athens, GA) undergrad
Columbus State University (Columbus, GA) grad

What is your favorite thing about being an educator?
Seeing the students become aware of and confident in their individual abilities, gifts, and attributes makes me so happy. Fostering this confidence and growth in children fulfills me.

If the school day suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend the day? With my sister! We would probably go for a hike, cook something delicious, then sit around the kitchen table eating, laughing and visiting : )

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tacos

If you weren’t a teacher/educator, what do you think your job would be?
Gardener or Geologist

What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you?
I write left handed but do everything else with my right hand

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
The results of my face aging on the AGE APP–woooooweeee, I sure did look old!