Please click on the faculty member’s picture below for their bio.
Classroom Faculty Director
Laura Weaver, Classroom Faculty Director
Laura Weaver is an educational advocate, writer, parent, teacher, and the Director of Transformative Learning at the PassageWorks Institute. Laura’s writing history includes co-authoring the recently published book The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching (Solution Tree, 2013), co-authoring numerous curricula for the transitions years, and publishing dozens of poems, book chapters and essays on topics ranging from school-based rites of passage to death and dying. Over the last decade, Laura has taught numerous courses and workshops, offered presentations at schools and conferences, and facilitated transitions and rites of passage programs for young people. A passionate participant in the movement to transform education from the inside out, Laura supports individuals and learning communities to understand and access their own unique wisdom and resources. Laura regularly consults with school leadership to design experiential professional development programs for teachers and continues to develop innovative resources for educators and parents. Before joining PassageWorks, Laura taught English and Creative Writing in a variety of university settings and founded and directed Bridges—an all-volunteer agency serving the needs of homeless communities in the greater Philadelphia region. Laura earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College in Connecticut and her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
John McCluskey, Principal, Senior Passages Facilitator
He has worked along side youth as a camp director, school administrator and for fourteen years as a high school teacher. John also works as a teacher trainer and consultant to districts around the country on issues of youth development, social/emotional learning and intentional, non-violent dialog models for youth. He lives with his wife Emily and their two children Reilly and Grace in Nederland, Colorado.
Batya Greenwald, Elementary School Teacher
Batya Greenwald is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher with more than 15 years of experience teaching elementary school and kindergarten at BCSIS. She is a lead faculty member for the PassageWorks Institute. Batya also facilitates courses for Girls Leadership Institute, teaching girls and their parents how express who they are and what they believe, and empowering them to create change in their world (www.girlsleadership.org). Her two college aged daughters are products of BCSIS and of Batya’s yearning to create healthy communities in which all children can thrive.
Carrie Simpson, Elementary School Teacher
Carrie Simpson lives her joy each day teaching and learning from kindergarten and first grade students at Friends’ School in Boulder. Bringing social, emotional, and spiritual education into her classroom is a daily priority, and she has collaborated with PassageWorks to create a semester-long Kindergarten Transitions Program which will soon grow to include a second semester. Carrie co-facilitates the 5th grade Transitions Program at her school and loves reconnecting with many of her past students as they prepare to move on to middle school. She has also presented for intern teachers and for parents and colleagues on the subject of social and emotional education. Other passions of Carrie’s include dance, music, yoga, traveling, and spending time with loved ones, especially kids!
Scott VanLoo, Assistant Principal
Scott VanLoo is an Assistant Principal at a dual language elementary school in the mountains of Colorado. He has over 24 years of experience in education including elementary and high school teaching and central and building-level administration with a background in Special Education, English Language Learners, Homeless Education, Equity and Diversity training and parent programs. Scott is the former Director of the César Chavez Cultural Center at the University of Northern Colorado where he helped recruit, retain and support hundreds of Latino(a) students and helped raise over $60,000 for endowed student scholarships. He has been a facilitator with the National Coalition for Equity in Education, Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the Generating Expectations for Student Achievement program. As a consultant, Scott is passionate about creating transformational experiences that promote and challenge participants’ thinking and professional growth. He has worked with colleges, universities, and school districts across the mid-West. Scott has volunteered with the U.S. Armed Forces Entertainment Unit, traveling overseas for three tours and entertaining hundreds of service men and women and he currently plays in a Denver-based salsa band. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Music and Business, an M.A. in Special Education, and post graduate work in Educational Leadership including a Principal’s license and doctoral course work. Scott is an extremely proud father of two boys.
Terence Nickie, Elementary School Teacher
Terry Nickie has been teaching in Colorado for 21 years. His work in teaching began at the The Naropa Institute’s Alaya Preschool and this is where he first discovered the value of creating and nurturing community in the classroom. Terry has spent time teaching every grade Pre K through 8, but loves working with fourth and fifth graders. He has taught students from diverse backgrounds in Denver Public Schools, Adams 12, and the Boulder Valley School District. For the last 11 years Terry has been a classroom teacher at the Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies. Here he has had the opportunity to fully explore the potential of social emotional teaching and has facilitated the Fifth Grade Transitions Program for several groups of fifth graders. In this role he has also introduced parents to the Passageworks curriculum and led many parent community councils. Terry believes that an inclusive classroom community where every student feels valued and comfortable taking risks, is at the heart of good classroom management.
Ari Gerzon-Kessler, Director of Equity and Partnerships, BVSD
Ari is the Director of Equity and Partnerships for the Boulder Valley School District. Previously, Ari served for 16 years as a principal, assistant principal, and bilingual teacher. In addition to completing extensive research on equity best practices within the U.S., Ari also traveled as a Fulbright recipient in Japan and taught briefly in Mexico and Thailand. He is the author of Money Fit and co-author of Have No Career Fear. Ari has a lifelong passion for social justice. He received his B.A. in African-American Studies from Wesleyan University and his M.A. in Instruction and Curriculum from CU-Boulder.
Catherine Fink, Teacher (Middle & High School)
Cathy is a Los Angeles-based educator who has taught English and Human Development at three independent schools for grades 7, 9, and 10. Cathy was a student of a PassageWorks transitions program in Colorado in 1997 and has been a Faculty member with the PassageWorks Institute since its inception in 2001. She brings both her experience as a PassageWorks student and her professional experience as a middle and high school teacher to each course she facilitates.