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PHONE (970) 254-6850 • FAX (970)241-2064

School District 51

Faculty and Staff

Administration

Damon Lockhart
Damon LockhartInterim Principal
Damon Lockhart
Damon LockhartInterim Principal
Dan Bollinger
Dan BollingerAssistant Principal
Dan Bollinger
Dan BollingerAssistant Principal
It is not our mistakes that define us; rather, whether we learn from those mistakes.

I love having the privilege of working with the families of IACS. I attended Colorado Mesa University and spent the last ten years teaching. In my free time, I love playing music, spending time outdoors and being with my friends and family.

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Brittany McHugh
Brittany McHughAdministrative Assistant
Brittany McHugh
Brittany McHughAdministrative Assistant
What’s meant to be will always find a way!

I have been married for 12 years to my high school sweetheart! We have 3 amazing children, Haiden, Karlyn and Liam. I have been fortunate enough to work here at IACS for 4 great years with my children being here as well.

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Becky Polniak
Becky PolniakSecretary
Becky Polniak
Becky PolniakSecretary
"Doubt kills more Dreams than failure ever will" ~ Karim Seddiki

I am married and have two beautiful children. I have enjoyed working at IACS for the past 5 years. Meeting new families and watching their students grow is such a joy.

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Katie Brown
Katie BrownSpecial Education
Katie Brown
Katie BrownSpecial Education
"Outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it is too dark to read." –Groucho Marx

I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Colorado Mesa University and am currently pursuing my Master of Arts Degree in Education. I love to walk and enjoy camping with my family.

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Sandy Campbell
Sandy CampbellSpeech Language
Sandy Campbell
Sandy CampbellSpeech Language
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss

I graduated in 1993 with a Master of Science degree from the University of Wyoming. I have worked as a Certified Clinically Competent Speech-Language Pathologist. I enjoy being part of this team who genuinely care about and supporting each other and all children, in all areas of development.

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Pre-K and Elementary Teachers

Hannah Perich
Hannah PerichPre-K
Hannah Perich
Hannah PerichPre-K
Accept the things you can’t change; have the courage to change the things which you can; And have the wisdom to know the difference.

I have been an early childhood educator for 7+ years. The reason I love to teach is getting the opportunity to support children, mentally, physically and emotionally. It is so rewarding to see how children grow and excel when you take the time to invest in their life.

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Jen Coleman
Jen Coleman1st Grade
Jen Coleman
Jen Coleman1st Grade
"See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all that you see." Wayne Dyer

I have taught first grade for five years here at Independence Academy and absolutely love it! I enjoy watching kids learn and grow and have fun all at the same time.

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Eryn Rider
Eryn Rider2nd Grade
Eryn Rider
Eryn Rider2nd Grade
"Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted.”–Dr. Seuss

I have been teaching at Independence Academy for 5 years. I enjoy what kids bring into my life every day. I earned my teaching degree at CMU, while playing soccer on a scholarship.

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Kati Bennett
Kati Bennett4th Grade
Kati Bennett
Kati Bennett4th Grade
I never lose….either I win or I learn.

I am married, and we have two incredible children, Kamden and Evelyn. This is my seventh year of teaching. The part I enjoy most about teaching is watching learners develop into critical thinkers and passionate learners.

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Shelly Smith
Shelly Smith5th Grade
Shelly Smith
Shelly Smith5th Grade
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”–Aristotle

I was raised here in the Grand Valley and graduated from Fruita Monument High School. I then moved to Seattle and graduated from Central Washington University with an Elementary Education degree. In addition, I earned National Board Certification in 2012.

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Heather Meyer
Heather MeyerKindergarten Full Day
Heather Meyer
Heather MeyerKindergarten Full Day
Never Give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

I have been teaching now for 10 years, and 7 of those years have been at IACS. I love sharing in the excitement that our little learners have for school, and helping them discover new ideas and knowledge.

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Christena Nelson
Christena Nelson1st Grade
Christena Nelson
Christena Nelson1st Grade
"People who are good at making excuses are seldom good at anything else.” Benjamin Franklin

I grew up in Bountiful, Utah, and received a Masters of Education from Nova Southeastern University. I believe children learn by doing and talking about what they are doing. Learning should be fun.

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Erin Phillips
Erin Phillips3rd Grade
Erin Phillips
Erin Phillips3rd Grade
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”–Dr. Seuss

I have been teaching for 28 years. My husband and two sons moved here sight unseen, no house, and no jobs. Quite the adventure!!! I love to read and walk my dogs.

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Jessica McDaniel
Jessica McDaniel4th Grade
Jessica McDaniel
Jessica McDaniel4th Grade
“You can do anything, but not everything.”–Author Unknown

I am married, and have three beautiful children.I have been teaching for five years as a certified teacher, and have spent eleven years in education total. I am a country girl at heart that lives on a small farm in Mack raising cattle with my husband Justin.

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Brenda Lee
Brenda LeeKindergarten Full Day
Brenda Lee
Brenda LeeKindergarten Full Day
If you have the courage to begin. . . You have the courage to succeed!

I have been teaching children for over 21 years. My degree is in Interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Development. My love for learning has led me to be a teacher, where I can support young learners.

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Bea Conway
Bea Conway2nd Grade
Bea Conway
Bea Conway2nd Grade
Never give up until you are proud.

Grand Junction has ben my home for 10 years. I have been teaching at IACS for 3 years and I am devoted to my second graders. I received my Teacher’s Certification in 2013 from Colorado Mesa University.

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Barbara Stansbury
Barbara Stansbury3rd Grade
Barbara Stansbury
Barbara Stansbury3rd Grade
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."-Ghandi

I love being a teacher at IACS! I have wanted to be a teacher all my life. My favorite teacher was my 3rd grade teacher. She, among others, inspired me to become a teacher, so I think it is pretty special that I teach 3rd grade now!

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Andrew Gagnon
Andrew Gagnon5th Grade
Andrew Gagnon
Andrew Gagnon5th Grade
"Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room."~ Dwayne Johnson

I am currently in my 7th year teaching, and this is my second year here at Independence Academy. I grew up in Michigan, and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Science and Elementary Education. I am an especially avid fisherman and hunter. Set the HOOK!!!

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Secondary Staff

Dianna Akin
Dianna Akin6-8 English
Dianna Akin
Dianna Akin6-8 English
“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.”–Abraham Lincoln

I am a fifth generation Coloradoan and graduated from Mesa State College. I have taught for several years, and at nearly every grade level. I believe that education should both empower a child and help him or her make a positive contribution to our world.

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Josh James
Josh James 6-7 Social Studies
Josh James
Josh James 6-7 Social Studies
Create the World You Live In.

I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from Mesa State College (now CMU) in history/secondary education, and my Master in the Art of Teaching with a focus on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment from Marygrove College

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Chuck Rider
Chuck RiderK-8 PE / Basketball Coach
Chuck Rider
Chuck RiderK-8 PE / Basketball Coach
Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

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Elijah Neymark
Elijah Neymark 6-8 Math
Elijah Neymark
Elijah Neymark 6-8 Math
If you can dream it, you can do it!

I grew up in Golden, Colorado and received a Bachelors in Biology and a minor in chemistry at Colorado Mesa University. I enjoy playing music, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling the world in my free time.

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Amanda Jackman
Amanda JackmanK-8 Music
Amanda Jackman
Amanda JackmanK-8 Music
"Measure your life in love.”–RENT

I have been performing in orchestras, choirs, and onstage as an actress in Grand Junction my entire life! I graduated from CMU with a degree in Vocal Performance and Theatre in 2011 and have found a great passion in teaching.

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Lacey Weber
Lacey WeberLibrary / Computers
Lacey Weber
Lacey WeberLibrary / Computers
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”–Leo Buscablia

I've been working at IACS for many years and am currently the school librarian and computer technology teacher. I teach typing and other computer skills to all Kindergarten through 6th grade students.

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Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas6-8 Science
Michelle Thomas
Michelle Thomas6-8 Science
"Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”–Albert Einstein

I was initially pursuing a major in physics with the intention on becoming a teacher. I switched to Teacher Education at Colorado Mesa University and graduated in 2014. I love to enjoy the outdoors!

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Megan Henry
Megan HenryK-8 Art
Megan Henry
Megan HenryK-8 Art
“Everyone makes mistakes. . . that’s why we have erasers!”–Megan R. Henry

I have a BFA in Art Education from CMU and have been teaching at IACS since 2012. I teach K-8th grade Visual Arts, seeing almost everyone in the school each week!

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Instructional Assistants

Liz Dahl
Liz DahlInstructional Assistant
Liz Dahl
Liz DahlInstructional Assistant
Melynda Brown
Melynda BrownInstructional Assistant
Melynda Brown
Melynda BrownInstructional Assistant
Amie Borden
Amie BordenInstructional Assistant
Amie Borden
Amie BordenInstructional Assistant
Jennifer Nordenson
Jennifer NordensonInstructional Assistant
Jennifer Nordenson
Jennifer NordensonInstructional Assistant
Jessica Romine
Jessica RomineInstructional Assistant
Jessica Romine
Jessica RomineInstructional Assistant
This is my second year in Early Childhood Education and my first year at Independence Academy Charter School. I really enjoy working with kids and think it is so rewarding to see them grow socially, emotionally, and educationally throughout the different stages of their lives. I earned my Early Childhood Education qualifications in the spring 2016 from Western Colorado Community College.

Lauren Lyons
Lauren LyonsInstructional Assistant
Lauren Lyons
Lauren LyonsInstructional Assistant

Maintenance Crew

Gene Hazen
Gene HazenMaintenance Crew
Gene Hazen
Gene HazenMaintenance Crew
Elizabeth Hazen
Elizabeth HazenMaintenance Crew
Elizabeth Hazen
Elizabeth HazenMaintenance Crew
Ron Dahl
Ron DahlMaintenance Crew
Ron Dahl
Ron DahlMaintenance Crew

Independence Academy Charter School  •  675 29 Road  •  Grand Junction, Colorado 81504  •  (970) 254-6850

Copyright@ 2017 Independence Academy Charter School