About Our Staff

Meet Vanessa, Meg, Jackie, Kyla & Lauren

Vanessa Acevedo Lugo-Rippee

Assistant Principal

Vanessa is the Assistant Principal/Learn to Lead Principal resident at the Denver Center for International Studies at Fairmont. She was formerly the International Studies Coordinator at the school and began as an ECE teacher at Cole Arts and Science Academy. Vanessa is currently working toward completing her MA in Educational Leadership with Teachers College at Columbia University. Vanessa has presented on creating opportunities for adult learning around international studies at the Partnership for Global Learning Conference in Brooklyn and has been invited to present on her experiences at the Penn Graduate School of Education’s Global Education Forum. In 2012 Vanessa was one of 10 educators to be honored by the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics as a Champion of Change. Vanessa attended the first ECET2 convening in Scottsdale, AZ in 2012 and is excited to bring the ECET2 experience to Denver, CO.

Meg Zimmerman

International Studies Coordinator

Meg is the International Studies Coordinator at Denver Center for International Studies at Fairmont. She was formerly a teacher grade at DCIS, and a 5th grade teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. Meg has a masters degree in Urban Education from Johns Hopkins University, and is very passionate about empowering teachers as leaders within areas of high needs so that all students are receiving an excellent education. She has presented at two international conferences, one in L.A and one in Brooklyn, on how to integrate global studies into everyday learning as well as project based learning for students. Meg has enjoyed attending conferences and having the opportunity to learn more about leadership through the classroom. Because of this, she is excited to provide other with learning opportunities as part of the ECET2 Denver team.

Jackie Hanna

Kindergarten Teacher

Jackie is a Kindergarten teacher at the Denver Center for International Studies at Fairmont. With her undergraduate in early childhood education from Miami University of Ohio, she has a passion for working with young kids. She is a teacher leader and international studies teacher leader for the school. With a masters in curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado: Denver, Jackie is passionate about creating units of study surrounding international topics. She has presented at two international conferences, one in L.A. and one in Brooklyn, sharing her ideas about thematic and project-based learning. Jackie has loved the opportunity to attend and present at conferences, which has led to her desire to work on the ECET2 Denver team.

Kyla Monchak

Global Support Coordinator

Kyla Neuhalfen is Global Support Coordinator and intermediate elementary Spanish teacher at Ponderosa Elementary School in Thompson School District in Loveland, Colorado. Her previous teaching experience includes kindergarten through fourth grade immersion with Global Village Academy – Northglenn in both English and Spanish components and kindergarten through fifth grade Spanish at Coyote Ridge Elementary an IB World School in Fort Collins. Additionally, she has served as full-time substitute in Russian and Chinese immersion classrooms and English reading interventionist at the elementary level. Outside of school, Kyla loves to travel, run, hike and try new things.

Lauren Fine

5th Grade Literacy Teacher & Instructional Coach

Lauren is a 5th grade literacy teacher and teacher instructional coach at McGlone Elementary in Denver, Colorado. She has worked in education for the past decade in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Houston and Denver. Through her work both inside the classroom as a teacher as well as time spent training educators Lauren’s passion for equity in Urban Education continues to fuel her work. Lauren has worked with Stand with Children, Teacher Voice (through the Gates Foundation), Teach for America, Teacher Champion’s Fellowship, spoken on a panel for Education Nation, and attended and presented at numerous National Conferences in Education. These experiences have helped her understand much more of the policy and legislative aspects of the education system in America and the importance of teacher voice. She is also an America Achieves National & Lead Fellow. She hopes to enhance her teaching through the opportunity to collaborate with top colleagues in education. Outside of her work with with national education, Lauren is the Co-President and Co-Founder of an international nonprofit, Ghana Educational Collaborative, which helps send children to school in Ghana and develop change agents in their community.


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