Our Exceptional Teachers

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Contact Lindsay Neiman


BS: Journalism with Emphasis of Advertising in the Media, Minor: English
University of Northern Colorado Greeley, CO

MA: Elementary Education University of Phoenix, Lonetree, CO

Lindsay Neiman

Assistant head of School

Lindsay Neiman was born and raised in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Her husband Josh, brought her to the mountains of Durango to enjoy the small town lifestyle. Lindsay and Josh now have two daughters, Carter and Hadyn and watching them grow up brings the most joy to their lives. Running on the trails, under the sun is where Lindsay feels most at home. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Advertising in the Media with a minor in English from the University of Northern Colorado. After a few years in journalism, she decided to follow another passion… teaching. She went back to school and received her teaching certificate and Masters Degree in Elementary Education from The University of Phoenix. She brings 15 years of experience in education to Mountain, ten of which were at Park Elementary School. She has taught pre-K, first, second, and fourth grade. Lindsay also enjoyed her years as an instructional coach where she provided professional development to her staff. Most importantly, Lindsay believes students should be leaders of their own learning while engaged through discovery and reflection. She is extremely excited to be joining the team at Mountain Middle School.

Brooke Lamb Teacher

Contact Brooke Lamb


MA –

​BA – Political Science University of Nevada, Las Vegas​

Brooke Lamb Teacher

4th and 5th Grade Humanities

Brooke grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and spent her childhood riding horses and snowboarding. ​She discovered her love of teaching after she joined AmeriCorps and worked as a tutor for at-risk students. Brooke returned to college to earn her Master’s degree in Education and has taught in various elementary grades for the last sixteen years. She especially loves teaching reading and working with students in upper elementary grades. In her free time Brooke enjoys reading, traveling, doing yoga, and spending time outdoors. She is looking forward to putting roots down in Durango ​and being a part of the Mountain Middle School community.

Saac Segura Teacher

Contact Isaac Sugura


BS – Chemistry. Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO

Isaac Sugura

Teacher, 4th and 5th Grade Science

Isaac is a Colorado native, though his family has it’s roots in the South. He explores and expresses his artistic and scientific elements and enjoys looking for where the two overlap. With a formal academic training at Fort Lewis College in the chemistry department and personal artistic endeavors, he finds that teaching math and science is an artistic avenue in itself where art and science coalesce. Over the past decade, his curiosity and intrigue with the learning process has only grown from his own adventures in academia, as well as working in other non-traditional areas of education such as experiential education ​abroad, group/one-on-one tutoring, and teaching assistantships.

Todd Macon Teacher

Contact Todd Macon


MA – Liberal Arts, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM
BA – Philosophy, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Todd Macon

Teacher, 6th Grade Humanities

Todd is a Colorado native, originally from Colorado Springs. He has taught at the Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, MI, an independent middle school, and at Colorado Timberline Academy in Durango, CO. Todd brings 17 years teaching experience to MMS with a focus on cross-curricular lessons and projects. He has enjoyed being a Faculty Advisor to the Middle School Student Council, Climbing Club, and a Faculty Advisor on Wilderness trips. He has lived with his wife and daughter in Durango for seven years.

​His passions are reading to his daughter, fly fishing, backpacking in canyons and mountains, book collecting, and cutting a rug with his wife.

Josh Dalley - Teacher

Contact Josh Dalley


BA – Physics, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT

Josh Dalley

Teacher, 6th Grade Math/Science

Josh Dalley graduated from Middlebury College with a Bachelors of Arts in Physics. After graduating college, he worked as a project manager for a manufacturing company in Cleveland, OH putting his skills to use coordinating projects that involved redesign of everything from snowmobile driveshafts to large scale agricultural equipment. Heeding the call of the mountains, Josh found himself migrating westward to become the Head Coach of the Durango Nordic Ski Club. Before joining MMS, Josh worked as a Math Specialist with Animas High School.

Jen Lokey - Teacher

Contact Jen Lokey


MAT – Secondary Science University of Puget Sound
BS – Biology University of Puget Sound

Jen Lokey

Teacher, 4th and 5th Grade Science

Jen is a happy transplant to Colorado. She spent most of her life as a resident of the Pacific Northwest. She taught biology for five years at the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, WA in addition to running its climbing club and experiential learning program. Jen’s last eight years in Durango have involved raising her two little boys from scratch and creating and teaching education programs at the Powerhouse Science Center. She loves skiing, running, and climbing as much as humanly possible. Her favorite places on the planet are the Great Barrier Reef, Joshua Tree, and Denali National Parks. Jen’s other passions include but are not limited to wearing costumes for no good reason, using

Dave Farkas - Teacher

Math Website
Contact Dave Farkas


BS – Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University British Columbia
MA- Outdoor and Educational Leadership, Prescott College, Prescott, AZ
Science Teaching Licensure, Fort Lewis College

Dave Farkas

Teacher, 7th Grade Math/Science

Dave is a native of western Canada growing up playing in his local mountains. His love of the outdoors drove him to Prescott Arizona where he earned a dual degree in Environmental Education and Outdoor Leadership at Prescott College. After graduating, Dave became a professional kayak athlete and began traveling the world exploring the landscapes and rivers with his team of friends.
​He landed in Durango in 1997 and has been here since receiving a Degree in Science at Fort Lewis College along with his Teacher Licensure. Dave brings 16 years of teaching experience to Mountain Middle School and continues his professional kayak athletic life. The proud father of 2 boys, he loves raising them in the Durango community that has made him feel so at home.

Alec Johnson - Teacher

Contact Alec Johnson


Prescott College
Fort Lewis College

Alec Johnson

Teacher, 7th Grade Humanities

Alec was born in Germany and moved around with his family before spending much of his childhood in Middletown, PA. He attended Prescott College for an Outdoor Leadership degree. After graduation he worked for Kling Mountain Guides leading trips across Colorado and Utah. He was inspired to delve into formal education after using the outdoors as his classroom. Alec enjoys playing the guitar, all manner of outdoor adventures, and reading leather bound books. He dislikes idleness, and hates pickles.

Suzanne Jackson - teacher

Contact Suzanne Jackson


BS – Science Education, Florida State University

Suzanne Jackson

Teacher, 8th Grade Math/Science

Suzanne Jackson grew up in Point Pleasant, NJ and moved to Colorado in 1997 after graduating from Florida State University with a BS in Science Education. She has taught science and math for over 15 years in both traditional schools and online.

Suzanne has lived in Durango with her husband since 2001 and has two sons. In her free time she enjoys trail running, ½ marathons, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and white water rafting. In addition she loves to cook, garden, and raise chickens. Most of all Suzanne loves to do all these activities with her family.

Chris Hughes - Teacher

Contact Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes

8th Grade Teacher Leader

Chris was born and raised in the Bay Area of California before moving to Boulder, Colorado just in time to start high school. He moved to Durango to attend Fort Lewis College and has found it difficult to leave for more than a year or two.

At FLC, Chris studied Early Childhood and Elementary Education while receiving a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies . Recently, Chris went on to get a MA in School Leadership through High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education. He brings 12 years of teaching experience to MMS. When not in the classroom, Chris can be found in the outdoors, backcountry splitboarding, mountain biking, surfing, or spending time with his wife and new baby girl.

Rob Rich - Teacher

Contact Rob Rich


MA – Education Technology, Lesley University
BA – Political Science, Ft. Lewis College

Rob Rich

6th Grade Teacher Leader

Rob grew up in Littleton, Colorado enjoying the wonderful opportunities the state has to offer. He climbed his first “Fourteener” at age 7. He moved to Durango in 1984 and attended Fort Lewis College. After graduating he held jobs that gravitated toward teaching young people. Realizing his desire to teach led him to become a trained teacher. He comes to MMS with 15 years of teaching experience at Sunnyside Elementary in Durango. Teaching and spending time outdoors hiking, rafting the Grand Canyon, mountain biking, and skiing with his wife Kelly, brings true joy to his life.

Cara Kropp - Teacher

Contact Cara Kropp


BA – Sociology and Human Services, Fort lewis College
Teaching License in Special Education

Cara Kropp

Director of Student Services

Cara has been involved in the education field for 12 years, working as an outdoor educator guiding rock and rivers throughout Southwest Colorado, Utah and Arizona. She taught at the Colorado Timberline Academy, Prescott College and The Traveling School where she spent a semester teaching Journalism and Global Issues in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Cara is currently working on a Masters in Education with an emphasis in Teacher Leadership from Western State Colorado University. Cara spent 2 years supporting students academically in the Exceptional Student Services Department at Animas High School. Her passions include rock climbing, rafting, skiing and any adventure that makes her feel a little uncomfortable.

Anna Layden - Teacher

Contact Anna Layden


BA- English, Colorado State University
Teaching License in Elementary K-6
Teaching License in Secondary English
Montessori 6-9 Teaching License

Anna Layden

Teacher, 7th Grade Teacher Leader

Anna grew up in Middlebury, Vermont and has lived in Durango for the past 11 years. Anna attended CSU in Fort Collins and majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Anna then attended the FLC teaching licensure program and studied Secondary English Education. She most recently taught at Durango Montessori School for nine years and looks forward to bringing her passion for hands-on, project based learning to a new setting. Anna lives with her husband and enjoys spending time on Durango’s trails with her running shoes or a bike, doing pottery, traveling, and learning through teaching.

Contact Pete Basinger


BA History, University of Alaska
Grad. Certificate k-8 Teaching, University of Alaska

Pete Basinger

Teacher, 8th Grade

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Pete has a BA in History and a Graduate certificate in k-8 education from the University of Alaska. He started his teaching career in a multi-grade classroom in a remote village in Alaska, later moving to Utah and now Colorado to begin his 7th year teaching. Pete is an avid mountain biker and nordic skier and has coached youth in both sports. When not in the classroom or playing outside Pete enjoys pottery, sculpture, drawing, videography, wrenching on bicycles, and hanging out with his dog Spot.

Mike Madden - Teacher

Contact Mike Madden


MA – Counseling, Adams State College
BA – Psychology, Ft. Lewis College
Nationally Certified Counselor

Mike Madden

School Counselor

Mike Madden grew up in Denver Colorado and moved to Durango to attend FLC in 1991. He received his B. A. in Psychology from Fort Lewis College, and a Masters Degree in Counseling from Adams State College. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor. Mike has 15 years experience working with students who are at risk. He is a member of the Durango Youth Substance Abuse Coalition. He and his wife, Colleen, enjoy the activities that Durango has to offer with their eight year old son Sean. He enjoys skiing, whitewater kayaking, singing, playing the guitar and working with young people.

Angela Reali Crossland - Teacher

Contact Angela Reali-Crossland


MAT – University of Phoenix
BA- Natural Resource Management/Environmental Education, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point

Angela Reali Crossland

Instructional Guide and World Language Coordinator

Angela Reali Crossland earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Education from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and her Masters of Arts – Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix. She worked in the environmental education field until 2003 when she found her love of teaching in the classroom.

Before relocating to the Durango area, Angela worked for two charter schools in the Colorado Springs area. Last school year she worked for Animas High School and the R.H. Crossland Historical Document Museum. After working in a project based learning school for the past 5years she could not imagine herself teaching in any other style of school. She enjoys the small environment and close student/teacher relationships that charters schools promote, as well as the critical and in depth thinking that project based learning fosters.

In her spare time Angela enjoys canoeing, backpacking, snowboarding, photography and her new found hobby of paddleboarding.

Eric Hillstrom - Teacher

Contact Kate Nickols


Masters of Arts in Teaching, K-12 Art Education, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
Bachelors of Arts in Studio Art, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN

Kate Nickols

Teacher, Visual Arts

Kate grew up outside of Chicago, Illinois and is new to southwest Colorado. She attended DePauw University (Greencastle, IN) where she majored in Studio Art. In addition to art, Kate was a four year letter winner for DePauw’s Women’s Soccer program. After earning her BA she served for two years as an Assistant Soccer Coach at Washington and Lee University (Lexington, VA) where she also taught courses in the Athletic Department. Kate loved coaching in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is known to still get out on the pitch, but missed creating and the presence of the arts in her life.

Kate decided to further her education at Colorado College where she earned her Masters in Teaching K-12
Visual Arts. After graduating from Colorado College in 2011, Kate accepted a position as the Visual Arts teacher at Meadow View Elementary in Castle Rock, CO. The school is at the forefront for artful learning in Colorado and serves as a national model for arts integration and project-based learning. Kate enjoyed collaborating with other teachers and facilitating the cross-curricular connections with her students.

When Kate is not creating or teaching she enjoys trail running with her dog Mo, skiing, yoga, backpacking, spending time with loved ones, traveling, and finding inspiration for her art in all aspects of the growing and changing world.

Eric Hillstrom - Teacher

Contact Eric Hillstrom


MA – Education Technology/Curriculum Design, Michigan State University
BA – Social Sciences/Secondary Education, Minnesota State University

Eric Hillstrom

Teacher: Digital Media and Fabrication

Eric grew up in extreme Southern Canada, 14 kilometers north of St. Paul, Minnesota. He has 25 years of teaching experience ranging from at-risk youth, adult education, and teaching internationally. These teaching experiences have taken Eric from islands in the Pacific Ocean to Oregon, and SE Asia before arriving in Durango. Prior to MMS, Eric taught technology and multimedia courses at Durango High School. Eric comes to MMS with a focus on computer coding, 3-D printing, video/film, visual literacy, digital citizenship. His interests lie in the outdoors, travel, and spending time at home on the river with his wife and son

Sarah Tescher - Teacher

Contact Sarah Tescher

Sarah Tescher

Teacher: Mountain Options (Homeschool Program)

Sarah has lived in Durango for over 17 years raising her two sons, Jack and
Dylan, and working in schools as well as the non-for-profit world. She is a parent of a 8th grader as well as a parent of a student who graduated from MMS. She owns and runs Durango Academic Coaching LLC as well as being the founder of Durango Devo. She has been an educator for over 20 years having first started teaching at Berkeley High in 1997 in World History. She has a California and Colorado Secondary Teaching Credential as well as an endorsement in ESL and a certificate in Non-Profit-Management. he has taught at Miller Middle School, Animas High (X-Block), Durango Montessori, 9R Shared School, Columbine Christian as well as after-school and summer Spanish camps. She has coached and worked with kids for over 25 years. ​When not with students or her own kids, she can be found on her bike or skis in the mountains!

Amy Hackmeier - Teacher

Contact Amy Hackmeier


MA – Social Work
BA – Human Development and Family Life, University of Kansa

Amy Hackmeier

Behavioral Health Specialist

Amy is from Texas, but spent her most precious childhood moments in Durango attending Colvig Silver Camps until becoming a die hard local in 1999.  After graduating from college, she came straight to Durango and has never left.  Amy received her Master of Social Work in 2006, but has been a social worker at heart since she was able to talk.  Amy has worked in the non-profit world throughout her career as Therapist, Family Coordinator, Teacher, Child and Family Investigator, Parenting Coach, and Social Worker.  Amy’s professional passions include supporting people to reach their full potential while embracing a holistic, family dynamics approach to growth.  Personally, Amy’s passionate about her friends and family (including pups), trail running, fly fishing, music, and doing her best to help people find their light.

Natalie Barstatis - Teacher

Contact Natalie Barstatis


BS- Business Management, Northern Arizona University ​

Natalie Barstatis

Business Manager

Before moving to Durango from Arizona, Natalie managed multiple law firms, including a Family Law practice and an Estate Planning Practice. Natalie and her husband, who were high school sweethearts, and moved with their son to Durango in 2007, where their family quickly grew to include a daughter. While raising her children, Natalie performed book keeping services throughout Durango and led the Needham Elementary PTO from 2011-2013. She enjoys gardening, running, hiking, camping, and spending time with her family.

Jynn Furnas - Teacher

Contact Jynn Furnas

Jynn Furnas

Site Manager

Jynn has worked in the Durango area in a variety of roles from school secretary to business owner. She is the epitome of a soccer mom. Soccer has her traveling the 4 corners and she excels at keeping players happy and managing team needs. ​She enjoys the great outdoors any way she can get it.

Contact Melissa

Melissa Paxton

Nurse, Student Wellness Center

Melissa grew up in the Northeast and spent much her childhood visiting the island of Jamaica. She then moved to Oregon, Montana and California and spent over 10 years leading conservation-focused, educational adventures for middle school, high school and college students across Latin America.

In 2005, Melissa moved to Durango, had her son Liam in 2008 and in 2013, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse. In addition to her role as the Mountain Middle School Nurse, she works with Pediatric Partners of the Southwest and Mercy Regional Medical Center. Melissa is currently pursuing a BSN, combined with a degree in public health.

When not working or studying, you can find Melissa spending time with her son and their awesome crew of Durango friends mountain biking, rafting, backpacking, camping at music festivals, skiing and hiking.

Contact Amee Austin

MA- Instruction, Saint Mary’s University
BS- Psychology and Sociology, Viterbo University
Teaching Licenses- Elementary and Special Education

Amee Austin

Teacher, Elementary Inclusionist

Amee is a native of the midwest, transplanting to Durango in 2013. She grew-up in Rochester, MN, where education was a priority and the largest employers, Mayo Hospital and IBM, had a tremendous influence on schools and the success of students. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sociology from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI and a Master of Arts in Instruction from Saint Mary’s University in Winona, MN. She worked in medical/treatment and the public sectors of education for 16 years before moving to Durango. Amee’s formal education and work experiences that she brings to MMS is from a brain-centered approach to education. She strongly believes (and knows), that all student are unique in their learning, and she embraces the challenge to bring out the best in everyone of them. I

In her free time, Amee enjoys spending it with her husband and two daughters playing board games, cooking, watching the Packers, biking, skiing, or having adventures in the their RV.