Staff - OLD

UPES Staff Phone and Email List

Staff Bios

Chris Briggs-Hale
Principal Ute Pass Elementary

Chris Briggs-Hale is the Principal of Ute Pass Elementary School. He has experience as a classroom teacher, principal, and an educational consultant. He has served as a senior consultant at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), an associate with the Marzano Research Laboratory, and a member of the National Board of Directors for Community of Caring in Washington, DC. Chris has led and conducted numerous presentations and workshops on school improvement and reform for community groups, administrators, and elementary, middle, and high school teachers in more than a dozen states. Chris received the 2004 Sally K. Lenhardt Professional Leadership Award from Lesley University and was named 2004 Community of Caring National Administrator of the Year. In 2013, Chris was awarded a Hometown Hero Award for the Pikes Peak Region by the American Red Cross. Email Chris Briggs-Hale




Mrs. Hainds

As secretary, Dani has had the privilege of working and watching over the students of Ute Pass Elementary for over 22 years. She is a Colorado native (with the exception of 7 years in Alaska) and graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in Political Science, Sociology, and Women’s Studies. She has three daughters, all Manitou graduates, Chandra (2000), Christa (2000), and Katelyn (2004), and three grandchildren she wishes could attend Manitou schools! She and her husband Mike are avid runners and love living in the mountains with so many great trails right out their front door. Email Dani Hainds




Mrs. Grieb
Preschool Teacher

Lynn Grieb has been teaching at Ute Pass Elementary since 1994, with a couple breaks to have children of her own. Lynn was born in Virginia, moved to Colorado to attend Colorado State University, fell in love with the Colorado mountains and never left.  Lynn has taught kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades and now has settled into pre-kindergarten, which she really enjoys.  She is married and has two wonderful children who attended UPE.  Lynn loves the outdoors and enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog, hiking, running, biking, skiing, camping, and reading. Email Lynn Grieb



Mrs. Ferguson
Kindergarten Teacher

Kym Ferguson is starting her seventeenth year of teaching 
kindergarten at Ute Pass Elementary. She is excited to be able to help students grow and learn about themselves each year. Kym graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Early Childhood development and art. She is the proud mother of two beautiful daughters who both graduated from the Manitou School District. She is also blessed to have three grandsons to chase after. She loves hiking and being outside as much as possible.
Email Kym Ferguson



Mia Harriman
First Grade Teacher

Mia Harriman is a new teacher and is excited to begin her career at Ute Pass Elementary teaching first grade. Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Mia has visited the area many times, fell in love with the community and promised to one-day return to make it a more permanent place in her life.  She is a graduate from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Liberal Studies and attended the Teaching Licensure Program at UCCS. Her passions are teaching, learning, children, yoga, and running. She is excited for the upcoming year and all the amazing things it will bring.
Email Mia Harriman



Jacob Sampson
Second Grade Teacher

Jacob Sampson. I have had the pleasure of teaching at UPE  since 2010. This is my 16 year! My first ten were in Greeley, Colorado where I was born and raised. Proud to be a Colorado native, I graduated from University of Northern Colorado in 2000.  I have a daughter who is 7th grade and son attending 5th grade at Ute Pass. I am so thankful to be a part of the Ute Pass community.
Email Jacob Sampson
Visit Second Grade website




Louisa Dick
Third Grade Teacher

Louisa Dick is excited to begin her third year teaching 3rd grade at Ute Pass Elementary. She attended Colorado College and received degrees in both Art History and Spanish Language. In 2014, Louisa graduated from Colorado College’s Masters of Arts in Teaching program. She loves teaching because it provides endless learning and growing opportunities. Outside of the classroom, Louisa enjoys hiking, skiing, cooking, gardening, and reading. Louisa can’t wait to see what year three will bring! Email Louisa Dick
Class Website




Jessica Black
Fourth Grade Teacher

Ms. Black grew up in Woodland Park, Colorado. She graduated High School from Woodland Park High School in 2009. She is a 2013 graduate from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with a Language Arts emphasis, and a minor in Reading Instruction. She is currently teaching fourth grade at Ute Pass Elementary School in Chipita Park, Colorado. Email Jessie Black




Mr. DiFiore
Fifth Grade Teacher

Mr. DiFiore is in his twenty-third year of teaching fifth-grade students at Ute Pass Elementary. He attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he earned a  Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and his teaching certificate in 1995.  He loves teaching and working in our wonderful small school where the students call him Mr. D.  He has lived for over twenty-five years in Manitou Springs with his wife and has two grown children and two grandchildren.  He loves to travel and share those experiences with his students.  His other interests are hiking, biking, gardening, and reading.
Email Greg DiFiore
Visit Fifth Grade Website




Miles Groth
Sixth Grade Teacher

Miles Groth has been teaching in elementary schools in Colorado and Connecticut since 2008 and this will be his third year teaching the Mountain Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Miles graduated from Colorado College with degrees in Anthropology and Southwest Studies and later earned his Master’s in Elementary Education.  Mr. Groth is passionate about outdoor education and finding ways to connect students to the world around them.  Outside of teaching, Miles spends his time with his wife Emily and young son.  Some of his hobbies include camping, hiking, mountain biking, beekeeping, and snowboarding. Email Miles Groth
Visit Sixth Grade Website




Mrs. Romano
Art & Library TeacHer

Beth Romano is currently in her ninth year teaching art at Ute Pass Elementary School.  She is a thirty- year veteran in the teaching field, having taught in both private and public schools in elementary education, gifted, and art education before joining the Ute Pass team in 2001. She is married to Jim Romano and has four daughters, all graduates of Manitou High School. Beth and Jim have a two-year-old granddaughter and love spending time with her. Beth loves painting in her free time, as well as singing and playing the flute and cello. She is involved in music ministry in her church and working with a local organization for adolescents, in the arts. She loves teaching at Ute Pass Elementary School and finds the small school setting a perfect environment for getting to know families in the Ute Pass and Manitou communities. Email Beth Romano




Ian Ferguson
Music & Technology Teacher
Ian Ferguson has a trumpet performance degree from The University Of Northern Colorado and is an AmSAT certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. You can hear Ian perform around Colorado Springs as a jazz pianist and vocalist with New Vintage Jazz and Nube Nueve, and hear his original compositions in the duo Beth and Ian with his wife Beth Hembd. Ian is so excited to be part of such a wonderful community and can't wait to get started at Ute Pass Elementary!

 Email Ian Ferguson


Charla Schwartz PE Teacher

Charla Schwartz
PE Teacher

Charla is extremely excited to be back at Ute Pass Elementary School teaching physical education.  She completed her teaching program from UCCS and obtained her MA in Curriculum and instruction from Grand Canyon University in 2002.  She taught K and first grade at Ute Pass from 1997 to 2005.  She took time off to have her four children and now is excited to be back.  She also has her own business doing decorative painting and murals.  She loves spending time with her husband and children running, hiking, ballroom dancing, painting, and enjoying fitness and the outdoors.  She loves to help motivate others to love fitness and live a healthy lifestyle.  Email Charla Schwartz



Mrs. Christensen

Staci has been teaching for 20 years at Ute Pass Elementary. It is a pleasure for her to come to work each day to work with students in all academic subject areas. She received her Teacher Certification from the University of Southern Colorado and her Master's degree in Gifted and Talented Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado. She is a native to Colorado Springs, is married, and has three dogs. Staci enjoys the outdoors, running, practicing photography, and reading good books.
Email Staci Christensen



Heather Kenyon
SpEd Teacher

Heather is starting her fifth year at Ute Pass Elementary, but her first year as a certified teacher.  She is very excited to be launching her passion for children as the Special Education teacher.  She graduated in 2014, from Colorado Christian University with her BA in Early Childhood Education and is currently completing her Master’s program at the University of Northern Colorado in Early Childhood Special Education. Outside the classroom, Heather enjoys hiking, camping, building things, gardening, raising chickens, and riding ATV’s.  Email Heather Kenyon


Sarah Ulizio
Spanish Teacher
​Hailing from the state of Pennsylvania, Sarah Ulizio moved to Colorado in 2011 after receiving her B.A. in International Relations and Spanish Studies from the University of Delaware. She worked as an outdoor educator and director at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center in Florissant, CO for several years before moving to the Springs to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching and an Elementary teaching license from the University of Northern Colorado. She will teach Spanish and oversee the GATE program at Ute Pass Elementary. She is jittery with excitement to begin her first year of teaching and already feels so welcome and at home in Manitou Springs School District.

Email Sarah Ulizio


Leah Neilson-Johnson, Speech

Speech Teacher

Leah Johnson is the Speech/Language Pathologist serving Manitou Springs Elementary and Ute Pass Elementary Schools.  She earned her B.A. degrees in French and English, with a minor in Journalism, from Western State College and her M.A. in Communication Disorders and Sciences from the University of Oregon.  She holds her Professional Special Service Provider License from the State of Colorado in the endorsement area of Speech/Language Pathologist (ages 0-21) and her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech/Language Hearing Association.  This year will mark Leah’s 15th as a school-based SLP and her third year in Manitou Springs School District.  Before coming to Manitou, Leah worked for eight years in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 and four years in Colorado Springs School District 11.  Leah has worked at all levels, from preschool-12th grade, but the majority of her experience has been in the early childhood and elementary settings.  Leah is a native of Colorado Springs.  She and her husband, Cris, keep busy with their three wonderful boys, ages 15, 9, and 4 years.  She enjoys running, reading, gardening, and spending time with her family.
 Email Leah Nielson-Johnson



Michelle Starr

Starr started at UPE in 2011 as a paraeducator. She worked 4 years as a SPED para before moving into the preschool program. Michelle had 4 of her 5 children at UPE, 3 of the children went through Lynn Grieb’s preschool program. She absolutely loves working next to such an amazing teacher. Nurturing and teaching little souls is very rewarding and she is amazed how much they teach her as well.



Melissa Trolinder

My name is Lissa Trolinder and I work as a paraprofessional in the SPED department. I love all of the kids I get to work with and am so excited to work at a great school. I have previous experience in preschool working as a signing para for a Deaf student. I have an AA in general education as well as a certificate of achievement in basic ASL communication skills. I enjoy using American Sign Language whenever possible and have a strong love and respect for Deaf culture and history.
I am a native to the great state of Colorado and am married to a native as well. We are raising two sons in Manitou Springs and both of them attend district 14. I am happy to say that they love school!



Candra Streblow, Para

Candra Streblow


Lisa Kadlec
Health Tech

Lisa has been working with Elementary School children since 1998.  She started as a volunteer and soon after became an Administrative Assistant that she loved for many years.  Over the years she has worked side by side with several Nurses and many students.  She believes children should always come first as they are our future.  She is a Colorado Springs native and married her High School sweetheart.  She has two adult children Nicholas 25 and Mindy 23 who are the sunshine of her life.   Lisa loves the outdoors and the mountains.  She spends the weekends riding her motorcycle and relaxing at the family cabin.


Milica Barkic
Food Service



Terry Weimer, Food Service

Terry Weimer
Food Service

Terry comes from Springfield, Ohio, but Colorado has been her home for over 30 years. Terry and her husband Dave have a daughter, Katie who attended Manitou Springs School District from Preschool to graduation in 2010. Terry has designed and made costumes for MSSD plays and performances, helped with talent shows and cheer fundraisers. Terry is thrilled to continue to be a part of the MSSD Community serving lunches to the wonderful kids at UPES! In her free time, Terry sings with her band, paints and makes original works of art.


Catherine Wilson, Custodian

Catherine Wilson


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