Bal Swan Staff
Meet our exceptional staff

Administration    • Teachers    • Specialists   

Mr. Brian – Brian Conly – Executive Director - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education: Doctoral Candidate (2013), University of Denver in Educational Leadership; Master of Science in Management & Organizations from University of Colorado at Denver; Master of Business Administration from Bard Center for Entrepreneurship at University of Colorado Denver; Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Oklahoma State University.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? At my first Bal Swan Ball, I stood in front of 500 Bal Swan supporters. The room took my breath away as I realized that this little school that I had been hired to nurture and grow was the loved and cherished jewel of Broomfield. At that moment, I grasped how important Bal Swan was and realized that I had a great responsibility—a responsibility to the community of Broomfield—to protect their favorite and most loved organization.

My life revolves around my wife and two children. My daughter, Lily, and my son, River, are the reasons I chose the early childhood industry for my life’s work. I had been preparing myself to be a daddy for 15 years before Lily was born. The life I live is charmed because my children go to a school that I help grow and support. I get hugs from them every day and get to see them learn at Bal Swan. As I work, I hear children laughing and learning. It is a dream, and I am filled with gratitude every day.

Favorite Quote: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~ William Butler Yeats

Website for Brian: www.about.me/BrianConly

 

Ms. Sunny – Sunny Justice – Development Director - Bal Swan Birthday: 2001

Education and Certifications: BA Psychology, minor in Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I love supporting the children and staff, and we have the most amazing donors. Each dollar I raise is an accomplishment to be celebrated because I know the money will be used to help a child succeed. It’s such a feel-good job, and I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization.

Quotes: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Gandhi

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: I can still remember the way I felt when I walked in the doors to interview for my job. I instantly loved the school and Marlene and knew I had found my new home.

 

Ms. Bev – Beverly Ferguson – Director of Finance - Bal Swan Birthday: 2002

Education and Certifications: BA in Personnel Management and Business Administration from Oklahoma State University

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? It is a supportive and caring place to work where we combine all our best qualities to make something better than the sum of our parts!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born and raised in Oklahoma and moved to Colorado in 1979 after graduating from OSU with plans to be a ski bum. Although that never actually came to pass, I do hit the slopes whenever I can! I have been married to Dan since 1982 and we have two grown daughters who continue to bring us great joy and happiness! I love Colorado and the beauty all around us. Skiing, walking, reading, Pilates and spending time at the ocean are some of my favorite things to do. Before coming to Bal Swan, I owned a travel agency in Broomfield for 17 years. When I sold it, I called Marlene and told her I wanted to come play! I love being a part of Bal Swan and the wonderful environment it provides for students and employees alike.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Marlene and her unique ability to make each child and staff member feel special

 

Ms. Stacey – Stacey Lindstrom – Assistant to the Director of Education – Bal Swan Birthday: in 1972 I was a student and in 2009 I became a staff member!

Education and Certifications: BS in Architecture

Why do you enjoy being a part of the Bal Swan Family? I have grown up at Bal Swan – since the zebra carpet days – where my Mom taught and was cherished for 37 years. Coming to work is a joy because our staff is truly incredible, autonomous, caring and talented and our children are amazing kids – plus they are the cutest! I love and believe in this organization. I feel that we are responsible to help nurture & evolve this incredible legacy for the families of our community. Starting with our little school, we can change the world!

Where are you originally from and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was adopted as a baby and plucked from my “soul city”, San Francisco, to grow up in Broomfield with my wonderful parents and eventually a little sis. It seemed like we were the only Japanese north of Denver! I felt different but also admired, even with all of the odd but yummy food that showed up in my lunch box (seaweed, dried fish, tofu, stinky pickled things). After finishing my degree in Architecture at CU, I was torn between the East and West coasts … a job in Seattle or more schooling in NY where I’d been accepted at Columbia. I chose the money and met my husband, who eventually convinced me to move back to Colorado to get some vitamin D! Once I had kids, I could not find a Bal Swan anywhere but Broomfield?! So, I made my way back home in 2006.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Always feeling welcome, supported, and special at Bal Swan. As a kiddo, Miss Marlene making me feel as if I was THE MOST SPECIAL kid on the planet (my cubby was labeled “gorgeous kid”). Instead of hugging, she was an expert cheek squeezer! As a big kid, Patti saying, “another angel has fallen from the sky to join us at Bal Swan” on my first day as a staff member.

 

Ms. Catherine – Catherine Becher – Office Manager - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education and Certifications: BA in Psychology, minor in English

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I was immediately drawn to the intrinsic specialness of the school. As soon as I walked in the doors for the first time, I knew I belonged here. It is a place that accepts and loves every child for who they are and encourages them to be the best they can be.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I am originally from Vermont, and I moved to Colorado in the spring of 1998. My husband is a fifth-generation Coloradoan from the southwestern part of the state. We are very lucky to have three amazing children: Grant, Burke and Mara.

Quotes: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” -Helen Keller

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: I had to give a time-sensitive phone message to an occupational therapist who was providing warm-water therapy to a little girl student. When I walked in the pool area to deliver the message, the little girl looked up at me from the water with the most amazing giant smile that just melted my heart. I could tell she was so happy to be getting warm-water therapy at Bal Swan, where she was also going to preschool, and she was just beaming from ear to ear with joy and pride. Despite the little girl’s physical challenges, she was authentically full of joy, and that was a moment of beauty I will never forget.

Ms. Patti – Patti Willardson – Director of Education – Bal Swan Birthday: 1992

Education and Certifications: MS Speech Pathology, Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Pathology American Speech and Hearing Association, Colorado Teaching License in Special Services, Colorado State Large Center Director Qualification, Certified Colorado State Pyramid Plus Coach

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I adore children and love living in perpetual “preschool-land.” I love my colleagues. I am extremely fulfilled with being a member of a group of people who function together in an extraordinary way and whose uncommon goals are larger than our individual goals.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born on the banks of the Tennessee River (my dad made me write that as the initial sentence in my biography for college applications...seems as corny today as it did way back then....thanks, DAD!!!!). I have lived in South Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Arizona. I've had some other cool jobs... My first job in high school was as a waitress at Ponzio's Diner in New Jersey, with hot-headed Greek chefs who called me "Barbecutie". During and after college (Ohio University) I worked as a flight attendant for a charter airline, Capitol International Airlines, based in Smyrna, Tennessee and now defunct, a change girl for the Sahara Nugget in Lake Tahoe, a waitress on Martha's Vineyard Island off the coast of Massachusetts, and a waitress in Georgetown Colorado. Once, during those fun and crazy years in the Colorado mountains, I was the "Green Queen" and rode in the Saint Patrick's Day parade down the main street of Empire, dressed as an Irish Flag on my birthday! I've worked at all these jobs with my college buddies, with whom I still get together once a year. We are TROUBLE!!!!!!

Favorite Quote: My favorite quote is from a 4-year old who said, "You know when someone loves you by how they say your name. You know your name is safe in their mouth."

Something I’d like to share about myself: My favorite color is pink and my favorite children’s book is “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. I have two kitties named Turbo and Tubs.

My Favorite Bal Swan Memory: The day I found out I was going to get to work with Stacey..... Princess, Magic Queen and Angel from the Sky!

Ms. Kim – Kim Nolan - Development Assistant – Bal Swan Birthday: 2009

Education and Certifications: BA in Communications from Loyola University Maryland

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Being touched by the support and love the community has for our little school and that my children have been part of such a wonderful place.

Ms. Ashleigh – Ashleigh Turley – Para Professional/Teacher – Bal Swan Birthday: 2009

Education and Certifications: B.S. in Psychology and Sociology and pursuing an Education Specialists Degree in School Psychology

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I love the summer program and seeing the alumni of Bal Swan being challenged and completing the challenges with success.

Something I’d like to share about myself: My favorite color is purple and my favorite books are the Harry Potter series!

Ms. Maria – Maria Shanley – Office Manager - Bal Swan Birthday: 2009

Education and Certifications: BA in Psychology from St. Lawrence University, candidate for MA in Counseling from Regis University

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I love being here every day! Serving the needs of our children and their families is my daily reward. I love seeing the children’s growth and progress and hope we make a difference in their lives. I also love being a part of this supportive work environment―my coworkers are wonderful!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I am originally from the East Coast. I was born outside Boston and have lived in many states including New York, Connecticut and Virginia. After college, I lived Manhattan in New York City for nine years, where I worked in the financial industry. I have now been in Colorado since 1995. I love all that Colorado has to offer, including the skiing, hiking, awesome weather and friendly people. I have two teenage sons at home: Matt and Chris. Time has flown by so quickly and I can’t believe they are that old already. I am just trying to enjoy every moment before they venture off on their own!

Quotes: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

-Gandhi

This quote is an inspiration to me to never forget our time here is limited and to never stop growing while we are here. This is easier said than done, but a very worthy endeavor!!

Ms. Kathi – Kathi Patrick – Enrollment, Tuition and Co-Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2008

Education and Certifications: Child Development Associate Certification, 25 years in early childhood education and development.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? It is wonderful to work at Bal Swan because I get to be a part of a place that does a phenomenal job of loving and teaching all children!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born and raised in Boulder and, after spending 15 years in the Pacific Northwest, I came home to raise my daughter, Terina (11yrs). Terina loves Bal Swan and is looking forward to another year of Bal Swan Summer Camp with her friends.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Working in the finance office, doing enrollment and teaching two days a week gives me the gift of getting to know most of our 300-plus kids and their families! I also get the benefit of getting lots of extra hugs, smiles and hellos just for being Ms. Marcie’s (our music teacher) long-lost twin!

Ms. Jill – Jillene Black – Occupational Therapist – Bal Swan Birthday: 1998

Education and Certifications: Degree in Occupational Therapy with 18 hours each year in continuing education credits.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? There are so many memories of little and big successes toward accomplishing goals. I get excited with the children acquiring a new skill.

Something I’d like to share about myself: I like the variety of doing both the individual and the group sessions of occupational therapy. Warm water therapy and sensory processing are both special interest areas for me.

Ms. Diane – Diane Kirkwood – Occupational Therapist – Bal Swan Birthday: 1991

Education and Certifications: Degree in Occupational Therapy, Pyramid Plus Coach, and Developmental Intervention Supervisor and Trainer

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? My favorite part of Bal Swan is partnering with families and teachers in the best interest of the children.

Something I’d like to share about myself: I have been married to a wonderful husband for 31 years. We have three grown young men and are expecting our first grandchild soon. I enjoy hiking, biking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Ms. Heather- Heather Thomas – Speech Language Pathologist – Bal Swan Birthday: 2011

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Hearing a child who had been working on “h” with me say my name when I entered his classroom.

Something I’d like to share about myself: I have two awesome sons who teach me new things every day.

Ms. Laura – Laura Messmer – Physical Therapist – Bal Swan Birthday: 1992

Education and Certifications: Marquette University - BS in Physical Therapy

Favorite Bal Swan memory: All of the smiles from the kids while we exercise!

Something I would like to share about myself: I love to hike, camp, bike and play with my boys-husband Jim, sons Dylan and Ryan, and dog Rocco, a big white fluffy Samoyed.

Ms. Melissa – Melissa Cain – Speech Therapist - Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: M.A. Communication Disorders and Speech Science from CU-Boulder; CCC-SLP; ASHA certification

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I love the sense of community here at Bal Swan. Everyone involved with the school works together to provide the best experience possible for our kids.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I grew up in Austin, Texas, and have lived in Colorado since 1990.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Being asked to work here after being a parent of two Bal Swan students!

Ms. Marcie – Marcie Frahm – Music Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2010

Education and Certifications: B.A. Communications, U of MD; Licensed MUSIC TOGETHER (r) Teacher; ECE 101; CPR/First Aid; CAEYC Conference 2011; Conversational Spanish; LMA w/Honors (Live Music Addict)

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? These amazing children teach ME something every day, and I am honored to be able to share my passion and love for music with them! They truly have made my lifelong dream of being a rock star come true!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I grew up in Maryland and after college I slowly moved my way from New York City south through Virginia and North Carolina until moving west to CO in 2001. I met my husband at a concert in 2001, and we married in 2003. Our son was born in 2008 and he absolutely loves Bal Swan! I am honored to share my love and joy of music with these amazing children.

Quotes: “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” -Berthold Auerbach

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: The first time I walked through the doors it was into Miss Marlene’s welcoming smile, open heart and fabulous all-purple outfit! I knew immediately that I wanted to be just like her and for my child to go to school here. One other favorite memory is getting so silly and having such a true belly-wrenching laughing fit with Miss Marlene that we both almost peed our pants.

I am an original founding board member of The Mockingbird Foundation (www.mbird.org). The Mockingbird Foundation was founded in 1996 by fans of the band Phish to raise funds for children’s music education. So far, we’ve distributed over $700,000 to support music education for children, including 199 grants in 43 states, with more on the way. http://mbird.org/about/board/

Ms. Margo – Margo Aragon – Teacher – Bal Swan Birthday: 2002

Education and Certifications: Some ECE classes and certificate as a pharmacy technician

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? The acceptance of every person for who they are.

Something I’d like to share about myself: I have three kids and two grandsons that I am very proud of.

Ms. Joy – Joy Anderson – Teacher – Bal Swan Birthday: 2011

Education and Certifications: High school diploma and some college coursework

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? Every day that I walk through the doors of Bal Swan I make a new favorite memory with all of the new hugs and smiles I receive.

Something I’d like to share about myself: I love being a mom and a grandma and an employee at Bal Swan!

Ms. Dee – Dee Gilmore – Teacher – Bal Swan Birthday: 1996

Education and Certifications: Masters Degree in Communications Disorders, Certified Coach for Pyramid Plus

I got my Bachelors degree from Colorado State University and my Masters degree in Communication Disorders from University of New Mexico in..... A LONG TIME AGO! I have taken graduate level courses from UCD and am a certified Coach for Pyramid Plus.

When my children were young I worked a number of part time jobs - private speech therapy, Parent Education Instructor at area hospitals, home daycare and full time mom. I must admit as much as I loved that stage of my life, I am glad it is over.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I have lived in Colorado my whole life, with the exception of several years in New Mexico when I was in graduate school. I married my High School sweetheart and we will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary this year. I have 3 children (boy, girl, boy) and one amazing son-in-law. All of my children have lived away from Colorado and my guess is that they will continue to do so. That just means many opportunities for my husband and me to travel.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? For me, the best part of being at Bal Swan is the children and their families. I treasure the relationships I have developed over the years with these precious little ones and anticipate more of the same in the future.

Ms. Alyson - Alyson Jiron - Pyramid Plus Coach/Teacher – Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood, Currently in Graduate school where I will receive a Masters of Counseling Psychology

Favorite Bal Swan memory: Picking up my, then 3-year-old daughter and having her say, “My best friend can’t walk or use her arms but she can smile and play with me.”

I am passionate about Bal Swan, the philosophy, teachers and incredible preschool. I believe that parents are every child’s first teacher and that together as parents, Bal Swan teachers and staff, we can help children become confident, successful and happy little people!

Ms. Patricia - Patricia Riley – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 1992

Education and Certifications: MS in Biology plus ECE classes from CCD
Clinical Competence in Speech Pathology American Speech and Hearing Association, Colorado Teaching License in Special Services, Colorado State Large Center Director Qualification, Certified Colorado State Pyramid Plus Coach.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I adore children and love living in perpetual preschool-land. I love my colleagues. I find it extremely fulfilling to be a member of a group of people who function together in an extraordinary way and whose uncommon goals are larger than our individual goals.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born on the banks of the Tennessee River (my dad made me write that as the initial sentence in my biography for college applications...seems as corny today as it did way back then....thanks, DAD!!!!). I have lived in South Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio and Arizona.

Favorite memory at Bal Swan: MEvery year about this time of year the kids have grown and use all of their social skills without prompting!

Quotes: My new favorite quote is from a 4-year-old who said, “You know when someone loves you by how they say your name. You know your name is safe in their mouth.”

Something I’d like to share about myself: As an army brat with a different state or country each year, I enjoy the stability of Bal Swan. Love the sound of children laughing and the smell of rain. Love to read mysteries, learn more about God’s love for us through Bible studies, and applying this knowledge by service to the community.

Ms. Lyn – Lyn King – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2005

Education and Certifications: BA in Speech and Education of the Hearing Impaired. CO-TOP trainer for UCD. In the process of becoming a Pyramid Trainer.

I volunteered when my kids attended from 1995 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2004. I substitute taught during my son Sam’s last year of prekindergarten. I officially started as a regular teacher in August 2005.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? Ever since my daughter started here in 1995, I have felt this was a special place. I love our staff, our philosophy, our families, and the hugs and smiles I get every day!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. My father was in the Air Force and we moved a lot! I went to seven different elementary schools in five states by 5th grade! While I was attending Texas Tech in August of 1981, I got to student teach in Denver, and I’ve lived in Colorado ever since. I met my husband my third week in Denver. We just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary! I have three children: a daughter, Brooke; and two sons, Alex, and Sam.

Quotes: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” -Dr. Suess

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” -Albert Einstein

“Look for the good in everyone, every moment, every thing!” -Ms. Marlene

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Too many to narrow down! One of them has to be Ms. Marlene dressed as Cruella DeVille for Halloween! She looked fabulous!

Ms. K – Katherine Bucca – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: B.S. Early Childhood Education; PYRAMID
PLUS Trainer, UCD CO-TOPS Instructor

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? Everyone here is passionate and committed to helping children love to learn.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I’m originally from Kingsport, Tennessee, and I have been living in since 1997. I am thankful for my wonderful husband and two fantastic boys and feel lucky in life.

My Favorite Memory at Bal Swan: I really enjoyed the interview process. It helped me see how committed the staff is to serving all children. Additionally, I was able to see if I would be a good fit for this excellent school. Luckily, I was!

Something I’d like to share about myself: I have lived in Colorado for 15 years. I have a wonderful husband and two busy boys. Life is great.

Ms. Brooke – Brooke Brogle – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2009 as teacher, 2003 as parent

Education and Certifications: BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I am amazed by the children each day and love looking at the world through their eyes. It’s a beautiful view!

My greatest joys are my two daughters and spending time with them and my husband. We also have a cat, rabbit, frogs and a horse. I love sunny days, scrapbooking, trying new recipes and exploring nature.

Ms. Clarissa – Clarissa Villarreal – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education and Certifications: B. S. in Early Childhood Education

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? The people! From the board, administration and staff to all the wonderful families, the people make this place special.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I’m originally from Texas, and I have lived in Colorado since 2006

Quotes: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will always do the something I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: My experience working here has changed my life forever. It’s been inspiring and has changed my perspective on life in many ways.

Ms. Sara – Sara Pringle – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2009

Education and Certifications: I began teaching children after I graduated from high school in 2000. I am currently a student at Front Range Community College and will further my studies at Metropolitan State College of Denver to finish my degree. My plans are to earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Development with a minor in Early Childhood Education.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I feel that everyone is given the ability to find their true passion in life, and I truly believe that mine is teaching children. When I am in the classroom I am fully engaged and 100 percent focused on the children. For me, children give me the ability to appreciate the little things in life and enjoy my surroundings.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but I moved to Broomfield when I was 4, so I like to say that I am a native. Aside from being a teacher and student, I am a mother and wife. My husband and I have been married for 10 wonderful years and share the joy of raising our 10-year-old daughter together. During our time as a family, we enjoy camping, playing on ATVs, skiing, dancing in our living room, playing board games, spending time with

family and friends, and most importantly cherishing our time together.

Ms. Mandy – Mandy Davis – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2009

Education and Certifications: BA in Early Childhood/Special Education, as well as 13 years of experience working in a childcare setting.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? The positive environment! I love coming to work with women and men whose focus is on the children. I also enjoy the continuing training and education. I love that we are constantly learning new things and using them to become better teachers and professionals.

I have always had a love and passion for children. As a child, I had several social and behavioral challenges. I had teachers at both ends of the spectrum. There were teachers who thought me an annoyance and a problem child, and teachers who saw through the behaviors and took the time to understand and truly help me. The feelings I had in both situations led me to the decision to become a teacher so I could make a difference in the early years of all children. I have a distinct motivation behind coming to work every day! It drives me to be intentional and compassionate.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I am a native of Broomfield. I grew up here and volunteered at Bal Swan when I was 12 years old. It was one of the things that helped steer me in the direction of special education.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: My favorite Bal Swan memory is my “play date” when I was applying to be a Bal Swan employee. I remember the feeling of warmth and cheerfulness I felt as I entered the room. For the next three hours I was able to observe the positive language and practices embedded in the teachers and the daily routine. It was an enormous difference from any other center that I had worked in. I was able to interact with the children and teachers and felt so welcomed and embraced by everyone there. I left with such a feeling of excitement and a completely new vision of what I could do as a teacher to positively influence and affect the lives of those I would come into contact with.

Ms. Kiley – Kiley Edwards – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2010

Education and Certifications: Bachelors Degree in Human Development; ECE and Colorado Teaching License P-3rd

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I feel that Bal Swan is a beautiful representation of an organization of people working together in collaboration to provide the best social environment for students to learn and grow. Bal Swan is a family of teachers, parents, professionals and students all working together. I love being a part of that!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I moved to Colorado when I was 5 and grew up in Conifer. I attended Metro State College, where I earned my degree in Early Childhood Education. I currently live in Denver with my husband, BJ, and my son, Madix. We enjoy spending time as a family by hiking, swimming, going to the movies and playing games. In my free time, I like to read books and practice yoga.

Ms. Cristy – Cristy Jones – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2008

Education and Certifications: Bachelors in Political Science with a minor in Economics from CU-Boulder, Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Denver (DU) with an emphasis in Aesthetic Education.

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? There is no place I’d rather be than with the most positive group of people. It feels good. It feels right.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born in Brazil and have lived in Colorado the majority of my life.

I am outgoing, but stand back until I am comfortable with you, then I jump right in. I usually take on too much, but wouldn't have it any other way. I LOVE being busy. I also teach Scottish highland dancing and run a dance school.

Quotes: “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I cannot accept not trying.” - Michael Jordan.

Favorite/Saddest Bal Swan Memory: Watching my daughters on their last day of school at Bal Swan. They were excited and nervous but very confident for the next step. I was sad because I knew no other facility could teach them better than what they learned here at Bal Swan.

Ms. Linda – Linda Garlinghouse – Teacher and Parent Educator - Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: B.A. in Psychology

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? We are all truly here for the best interest of the child. We are all working toward the same mission and are genuinely happy to be here. It is such a supportive, loving and positive environment. The kids come first.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I moved here from New Hampshire in 1995 and will never leave. I love the sun!

Quotes: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamsby

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: This child was struggling and on a downward spiral. He was very aggressive and angry. He had been kicked out of every preschool. We had been working with him with many strategies to deal with his emotions. One day a child had knocked over a tower he had been building for a long time. While I was running toward him because I assumed he would hit the child, he took a deep breath and yelled, “Please stop,” and tucked under the table like Tucker the Turtle. As the other child was apologizing, he took deep breaths, came out from under the table, then he and the other child worked together to rebuild the castle. It was a turning point for him. He was applying the tools we had been teaching. He used his words to express himself. He walked away to calm down and he did. I cried.

Ms. Vanessa – Vanessa Valentine – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education and Certifications: BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family?

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born and raised in Colorado. My husband and I live in Denver and enjoy all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer. I have always loved teaching children and I am now a mom. I have a son, Everett, and we are expecting our second son soon. They will be 18 months apart. My experience and trainings from Bal Swan has given me the confidence to be a better parent and teacher. I love working at Bal Swan and I am excited for my children to attend!

Ms. Janet – Janet Gonzalez – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education and Certifications: BS from University of WI - Madison in Early Childhood Education

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I truly enjoy working here at Bal Swan. Every day provides a new learning experience for me and I am continually challenged and rewarded by my work. Observing the children change, learn and grow gives me joy and incentives to do the best that I can in my job. I love watching the classroom community evolve over the year. Children learn to accept and celebrate their similarities and differences. It is wonderful to work in an environment where I feel supported and loved by the staff, families and children. What a fun place to belong to! My husband, Garrett, and I are expecting our first child―a baby boy―in May 2012. We are so excited!!!

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: So many...every year at the Bal Swan Ball. What a fun time had with fabulous friends! Watching Miss Marlene dance at the Broomfield Dancing with the Stars. Magical. Every year, I enjoy thinking back on where the classes started and seeing how far everyone has come. It’s an amazing thing to witness.

Ms. Nicole – Nicole Parten – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2006

Education and Certifications: Master’s Degree in Early Childhood

Education with a Specialist License in Special Education

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? This is my second family—my home away from home! I feel supported and cared for daily. We have a common goal of providing the best relationships and education to our children possible. We all truly work as a team and that is hard to find!

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I love anything green! I am a Colorado native, have a wonderfully supportive husband, Cory, and an adorable dog, Hazel. I have a love of learning and want to instill that in my students.

Favorite Quote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

Ms. Katie F – Katie Freeman – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: BA in Child Development Current training: Inclusion Conference in Denver Feb. 2011

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? Bal Swan is a great place to work because everyone is listened to, cared for and respected. The children are amazing! When I was a swim instructor at the age of 16, I knew I wanted to teach. I am the mother of two children and two dogs and am particularly fond of rats.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born and raised in California and transplanted here in 2007.

Ms. Amy – Amy Martinez – Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2004

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I have been married for 25 years and have two boys. Eric, and Nico. I have a spider, a guinea pig, two dogs, three horses and too many cows to count. I enjoy running 5Ks, participating in triathlons, and hiking and biking. After all of that energy spent, I also enjoy cooking.

Ms. Jean – Jean McDonald – Co-Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: Parent 1990-1993; Teacher 1994

Education and Certifications: ECE - FRCC; Bal Swan Trainings; 17+ years classroom

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I have learned many things from the children at Bal Swan. One of the most important things I have learned is that each child is an individual and deserves an equally individual education and experience.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado: I’m originally from Pennsylvania and have been in Broomfield since 1977.

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: Working on the huge murals for past Bal Swan Balls

Ms. Katie M. – Katie Mahlstedt – Co-Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2010

Education and Certifications: B.A in Special Education, CPR/First Aid Certified; ECE 101; CO-TOPS Trainer and have taught a CO-TOPS class; EQIT (Expanding Quality in Infant/Toddler programs) Spring 2012

Why do you like being part of the Bal Swan Family? I love being part of the Bal Swan family because the staff is so caring and willing to help out anyone at anytime. The staff supports and encourages one another.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born in Danbury, Connecticut. I moved to Boulder when I was 18 months old.

Quotes: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” -1st Corinthians 13:4-8

Ms. Lacey – Lacey Guerin – Co-Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2010

Education and Certifications: Colorado State University Bachelor’s Degree Human Development and Family Studies

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? I enjoy how welcoming and supportive everyone is. I started my internship at Bal Swan in June 2010. Right away I felt at home and welcomed. I could tell that even though I was a student finishing my academic career, everyone was happy I was here and got me in the swing of things. You always see smiling faces, too! :) I also think doing my internship here has opened a lot of doors for me and led me to a lot of different experiences.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was born and raised in Colorado. I lived in Arvada until I was 11 and then moved to Broomfield with my family in 2000. I went to Legacy High School and graduated in 2006. I have two little sisters who have really helped shape who I am today. I was an only child until I was 16. They are now 6 and 8 years old, and I cannot imagine life without them. They teach me so much.

Quotes: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” -John Lennon

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: the ’80s Ball

Ms. Julie – Julie Roberts – Co-Teacher - Bal Swan Birthday: 2007

Education and Certifications: 17 years preschool experience; Associates Degree in Commercial Arts and Graphics

Why do you enjoy being part of the Bal Swan Family? The children come first here. Everyone works together to make it an environment where learning and caring come naturally.

Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Colorado? I was raised in Utah, and my husband and I raised our family in Wyoming. When our last son graduated from high school in 2006, we moved to Colorado. I have four children and five grandchildren. They bring me great joy!

Quotes: “It is our solemn duty, our precious privilege—even our sacred opportunity—to welcome to our homes and to our hearts the children who grace our lives.” -Thomas S. Monson

Favorite Bal Swan Memory: When I first came to Bal Swan, I was so impressed that the directors would come out of their offices and greet the children by name. It still makes me happy that each child is so important.

Staff Portraits courtesy Natascha Lee Studios; vibrant, joyful, and fun photography of babies, children and families in Broomfield, Colorado.