Miguel Gonzalez, Middle School Director
I am absolutely dedicated to the field of education. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado in English with an emphasis in Secondary Education and hold my M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Pennsylvania State University. I have been fortunate to be a middle school teacher both in Colorado, as well as in the international education world. During my tenure as an international educator in Costa Rica, I taught 7th grade, lead the Educational Technology department and the IT department, and served as the High School principal. This past June, I returned to Colorado as an administrator supporting a nationally recognized Teacher Leadership program in Denver Public Schools. While I am new to the Montessori world, where I have recently begun my training, I find its core mission to match my own! I am excited to bring my experiences and skills to DCSM as an educational leader and work with you as a partner to ensure all children have an authentic and positive learning experience so they may eagerly pursue whatever may be ahead in their learning journey.
Mike Catalano, Middle School Teacher
It has been almost 20 years since a relocation to Hawaii first exposed me to Montessori. Watching my children’s experience over a few years led me to change careers. After a 15 year business career (with a BS in Business Administration from UNLV), I secured my State Teacher’s Licensure and Montessori Certification from Chaminade University of Honolulu. I taught in Hawaii, Utah, and Nevada before finding my way to Colorado almost 15 years ago. After a brief stay with Denver Public Schools, I am returning to DCS where I have served as an upper elementary teacher and one of the middle school pioneer teachers. It is exciting to rejoin such an amazing team.
My wife and I live in Applewood where we follow the exploits of our two Montessori children as they navigate adulthood. I coach competitive soccer. I also play indoor and outdoor soccer and tennis, and what I lack in skill, I make up for in enthusiasm. Inspired by the practical life exploits of my middle school students, we have also taken up remodeling our home.
I am excited to use my Montessori Middle School training (AMI) to guide the young adults of DCS Montessori on their path. By merging hard work and exploration with joy and engagement, our middle school community is prepared for an exciting and productive year.
Nicole Gassman, Middle School Teacher
Hello. I am beyond excited to be on staff here at DCS Montessori. My family and I recently moved to Colorado in January 2014 coming from Chicago, Illinois. We have enjoyed the beautiful scenery and love the wonderful weather here.
I have been teaching for 12 years, in which I have had the privilege of teaching grades six all the way through the college level. I have a Secondary Education Degree (6th-12th grade certified) in the Biological and Physical Sciences. I also have a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I am looking forward to a wonderful school year with your kids!
Illyce Kaarto, Middle School Learning Specialist
Hello! I am truly looking forward to working with your student and your family this year in our DCS Montessori Middle School Community.
I have joyfully been a teacher since 1994! Recently, I completed my Montessori Secondary AMS Middle and High School Certificate. I also hold my AMS Lower Elementary Montessori Certificate, and guided Lower El classrooms for many, many years. In addition, I have my M.A. Degree in Education with my Colorado State License in Special Education and Elementary Education. Another part of my Montessori career that brings me great happiness is my role as a Student Teacher Consultant and Instructor for the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, which I have enjoyed for the past 15 years.
Dr. Montessori believed in honoring and educating the whole child, and her philosophy guides me in serving children each day of my life. I have absolute faith in each student…and in the inherent brilliance they exude! I hold a special place in my heart for the very special period of adolescence.
I live in Golden with my husband, Scott, and our own two adolescent Montessori boys. We love all things outdoors in our mountains, and spend much time hiking and biking at our cabin. We also love growing food in our large garden, and playing ball with our two big Newfoundland dogs.
I am honored and grateful to be working with your child and your family in our middle school community, and am thrilled about the joyful learning, curiosity, and new experiences awaiting us!
Andrea Perrino, Middle School Teacher
When my family moved to Castle Rock five years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the district had a Montessori charter school. I attended a Montessori pre-school and Kindergarten, and my mother was the Director of the same school several years later. Montessori is part of the fabric of my upbringing. Without hesitation, we enrolled my daughter as a P3 and have watch her flourish and grow with the DCS Montessori community.
It was a little over a decade ago when I realized something was missing in my life. My husband and I were living outside of Philadephia. I was a director of a youth handbell choir at my church and found my hour a week with middle-school-aged children brought me long lasting joy. When my husband and I moved closer to family here in Colorado, I visited a local middle school math class and it was place of excitement for me. I immediately enrolled at College of Santa Fe at Albuquerque to acquire my Masters in Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership. My first five years of teaching were at the 9th grade level, guiding students in their studies of English, Humanities, and AP Human Geography. For the last four years, I have taught Language Arts at a local public middle school, incorporating many aspects of the Montessori philosophy into my classroom. I am delighted to become a part of the DCS Montessori community as a teacher, not just as a parent. I look forward to working with students to strengthen their skills, explore new ideas, and think critically about the world around them.
I adore dark chocolate, sushi, beef panang, and peaches. I love to read, to cook, to sing, to travel, to take pictures, and to play handbells in the time I grab between family time and guiding students. My house is filled with the people I love: my supportive and encouraging husband, my kind daughter, my indispensable mother, as well as our two elderly white cats and our energetic Boxer mix.
Erika Tinker, Middle School Teacher & Counselor
My name is Erika Tinker and I’m honored and excited to serve as Social Studies Guide and Middle School Counselor for DCS Montessori Middle School. I hold a Master’s Degree in School Counseling as well as a Colorado Department of Education Special Services Provider License for K-12 School Counseling.
I have enjoyed working at DCS Montessori in several classrooms at different levels since 2007. Before my time at DCS Montessori I served as a school counselor at an alternative high school in Northern Colorado and graduate assistant at the Women’s Resource Center of UNC.
I love living in Castle Rock with my husband who is a firefighter and our two young daughters who both attend DCS Montessori.
I feel very passionate about Montessori philosophy and supporting each student as they discover their own personal, social, and academic success. I look forward to a wonderful year of meaningful learning and exciting growth in our Montessori middle school community!