Meet the Team
Science and Publications
Amy Vander Kooi
Hi! I am Amy Vander Kooi! I have taught at Summit Academy South for the past 3 years. I am passionate about teaching and enjoy learning from my Summit students! In our free time, my family enjoys visiting National Parks, camping, fishing, hiking, reading books, and visiting historical sites. This summer I am visiting my dream destination, Saguaro National Park! I also have plans to ride in a real Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail! Find me at school- I can’t wait to tell you all about it! See you in 2022-2023! Ms. VK
Science and Shakespeare
Ms. Kern has been teaching at Summit South for two years. She is married to Scott and has 4 children between the ages of 7 and 22. She loves playing in the outdoors, reading, skiing, walking, baking, traveling and the beach. She has a degree in Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Refining from the Colorado School of Mines and enjoys sharing her love of learning with her students.
Mr. Gallegos is the martial arts instructor/coach at Summit Academy South. He is a life-long student of the martial arts and has enjoyed sharing some of what he knows with the Summit community for the past several years now. His greatest joy as an instructor is seeing his students accomplish their goals after making a determined choice to persevere.
Hello, I am Lori Berhow. I teach PE, dances around the world, and stretch and breathe. I have been teaching for 16 years. I love teaching students fun ways to be physically active, increase skills, work as a team, and focus on overall wellness.
Science and Social Studies
My name is Nicole Dow. I teach a wide variety of classes at Summit South including US History, Robotics, Brain Power, Grit and Gameschooling. I have three kids. Two attend Summit and one attends a school for kids with special needs. We live on and own a horse boarding facility and Ranch in Conifer. When I am not watching my son play baseball, or my daughter riding, or tending to all my critters, I enjoy hanging with friends and reading. Have a book you love? Let me know I would love to read it!
Musical Theater Arts
Maria Burkett is a professional stage performer, vocal coach and piano instructor. She is passionate about musical theatre and teaching students how to sing with proper form and technique in order to avoid long-term damage.
Maria attended Mississippi College where she was selected to be a member of the elite Mississippi College Singers. Through the Mississippi College Singers, she was able to tour across the country to New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and across the world to South Africa.
Maria enjoys playing an array of instruments including the piano, guitar, violin, ukulele, “banjolele”, mandolin, flute, piccolo, saxophone, clarinet, djembe and whatever instrument she can find!
Music and Math
Debra Hansen, also known as Dr. Fun, is a confirmed music and math lover. After beginning her career
as a music teacher, she went on to become CFO of Quark, Inc., an international software firm. Even
though business was her main gig, she kept her musical soul alive by conducting children’s choirs at
local churches. Later she provided STEM workshops for the Jefferson County Public Library, various
Jefferson County and Denver public schools, and the Scholars Unlimited program. She developed
the math game, “Who’s Counting”, that won the Parent’s Choice, Brain Child, and Math Game of
the Year in 2012. She sings in the Colorado Chorale and continues to study guitar and piano. Dr. Fun
believes that music is best learned by performing rather than spending hours on drills. Likewise, she
thinks math should be fun and practical so that kids push themselves to learn more.
Elementary and Ballet
Mrs. Lynn, a Colorado native, was homeschooled K-12 and graduated from Rock Solid High School (a private charter school for homeschoolers). She obtained her B.S. in Elementary Education and taught K/1st grade in the public schools for 4 years until her firstborn came along. She began teaching at Summit South in 2018 and loves that she gets to homeschool her own kids and be a part-time SAHM, yet still follow her passion to teach in a classroom setting! Outside of school, Mrs. Lynn enjoys visits to Elitches, the zoo, the library, DMNS, and alllll the best playgrounds with her husband and their daughters (Alexis and Madison)--she also volunteers at church, and continues a lifelong pursuit of excellence in dance by taking regular ballet classes.
Social Studies and Cooking
Hi, my name is Jenny Matthews and I have been teaching at Summit for 4 years now. I teach geography, cooking, and book club and love sharing things I am passionate about with my students. I live with my husband and 2 kids in Lakewood, and we love to spend time together outdoors doing lots of activities.
Clarissa Montoya has been Summit Academy South's Art Teacher for two years. She enjoys working with all ages on being creative and expressive in art. She and her children love being a part of our homeschooling community.
Ms. Sprik has been teaching at Summit Academy South since 2019. She has been married to Sam for 27 years and together they are raising 6 children ages 10-20. When she is not teaching, driving, and tending to kids she enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping, playing on the water, and sitting on the beach with her family. She has a Bachelor of Science and Nursing from the Hope-Calvin Nursing Program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ms. Sprik loves classroom hands-on activities, making science messes, and teaching kids how to do new and hard things.
Lego Robotics and Spanish
İBienvenido! Welcome! I teach Elementary Spanish, Lego Robotics, Lego Simple & Powered Machines and Hands on History (in Conifer). Students learn best by “doing,” and at Summit teachers have the space and resources to let the creative juices flow. Families decide to homeschool their children for different reasons, and I believe Summit fills in some of the gaps for homeschooling families, I know it has for me and my two children. My husband and I both grew up in Colorado and attended public school. The thought of homeschooling our children never surfaced until our oldest was faced with some issues in his very early years of education. Now, sixteen years later, we are very thankful that God had it in His plan for us. I enjoy teaching children because of their excitement for learning and the unedited interactions that children bring to class with their peers and the staff. I say this with the deepest sincerity, that I am blessed to be working with your children in this unique opportunity of providing homeschoolers with a classroom experience.
Secondary English and Attendance Secretary
A little over ten years ago my son and I began our "practice" year of homeschooling, "just to see if I could do it." Add four more kids, five moves within three different states, and twelve years to bring my home-educating journey to present day. About four years ago we moved to Colorado, my home state, and found Summit South, just as it was beginning.
As a self-proclaimed "English nerd," I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching writing and literature, two subjects that shaped me profoundly as a middle and high school student. Growing up, I constantly heard, "You should be a teacher!" from those who knew me best. I thought I didn't want to be a teacher and so got my degree in counseling instead. As it turns out, they were right! I love teaching!
Outside of school, I am a mom to five kids, ages 7 to 16, the wife of an archaeologist, an amateur gardener and DIY project enthusiast, a pianist, and a very part-time homeschool curriculum consultant.
Elementary and Middle School
Teaching is a passion of mine! I love learning alongside my students. In my classroom I strive to make sure everyone is challenged, supported, and successful! I am a Colorado native and have two girls, 6 and 3 years old. Outside of teaching, I enjoy playing tennis, mountain biking, snowboarding, and gardening.
Elementary and Middle School
My name is Lisa Kamicar. I have been teaching Kindergarten here at Summit South for four years. I truly enjoy teaching and watching the students grow throughout their Kindergarten year. I am excited to meet and teach my new class this coming year!
Secondary Social Studies
This is Ms. Schulz’s 2nd year at Summit Academy South where she will be teaching and working in the office. She is a former middle school Language Arts teacher turned homeschool mom. She enjoys spending time with her husband, 3 kids, and extended family, taking care of her 16 farm animals, doing house projects, and archery with her kids.
Secondary Science and CE
In 2004, my middle school children needed someone besides me to teach them, so we joined a homeschool charter. In 2006, I started teaching for that charter. Since then, I have relearned physics and chemistry, improved my essay format, dissected too many animals in my kitchen (much to my husband’s dismay), and searched out the most engaging, critical-thinking lab experiences for my students. I have a master’s in genetics and worked for years with families with babies with severe birth defects. Now I enjoy gardening, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking (Denver to Durango on the Colorado Trail in 12 days), skiing, and feeding my backyard flock of 20 magpies. My son, the troublesome middle schooler from 2004, is now a nurse practitioner specializing in an ENT group and with his wife chasing 4 fantastic sons around. My daughter is a top notch consulting accountant married to a chemistry professor hoping to “stop working ridiculous hours and relax and have babies”.
I love teaching complicated concepts with humorous sayings, puns, hands-on activities, and lab experiences. I believe in good writing, in striving for improvement, and in creating an environment where students feel they have accomplished more than they thought they could.
Summit South School Secretary
Amy Barbour is the Summit South Secretary. She has a keen knack for helping people and solving problems. Amy has 2 daughters and has been working at Summit South for 5 years.
Hello, My name is Julie Jordening. I currently serve as the Vice Principal of Summit Academy South.
I was born in New Mexico but spent most of my childhood in the Houston Texas area. I had the privilege to live overseas in Scotland in middle school. I was an athlete in my younger years, playing as many sports as I could: soccer, golf, track, volleyball and basketball.
I attended Texas Woman's University where I received a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Science with a minor in Business. I then attended University Of North Texas and pursued a masters in Gerontology with an emphasis in exercise.
I have been married for 29 years and have 4 boys, and now have two wonderful daughters through marriage to my older sons. In my free time, I love spending time with my family, exploring new areas of the country, camping, hiking and reading.
Hi! I am Allycia Taussig, and I am the Principal of Summit South. I have been Principal for 4 years, and it has been such a crazy but amazing ride.
I have 4 kids -- 2 girls and 2 boys. I have an amazingly supportive husband who puts up with my crazy schemes.
I am passionate about education, especially homeschooling. I love working with kids, especially when I get to be a coach or a teacher. I feel so alive when I am able to watch kids learn, grow, and develop into the best people they can be.
If you ever have a question or just want to talk schooling, please send me an email!