Staff

The Liberty School is fortunate to have the most skilled, talented and committed staff members around to guide our students along a successful path... 
Christian Holmen,

Teaching Head of School

After pursuing a life in aviation, Christian discovered his true calling as an educator while attending Fort Lewis College. After completing his teacher training, he began teaching 1st and 2nd grade at the Telluride Mountain School. After 7 years, and having taught virtually all grade levels, he moved back to Durango to teach at the Liberty School. During his six years at Liberty, he was a jack-of-all-trades, teaching everything from math and writing to Spanish and P.E. After the 2014 school year, he accepted the offer to become Liberty’s next teaching Head of School. As Head, he is excited about the energy, passion, and professionalism of Liberty’s staff, and eager to help Liberty continue to grow and develop into the future. Contact Christian at cholmen@thelibertyschool.org.

Bryanna Natonabah, B.Ed., Teacher and Academic Tutor

Affectionately known as "Ms. Bry" (pronounced "Ms. Bree"), Bryanna started with The Liberty School as a student teacher from Fort Lewis College (FLC) in 2015. She has also received OG training during and now is a tutor here at The Liberty School as well as a drama & engineering instructor for our After-School Enrichment Program Ms. Bry graduated suda com laude in 2017 and now plans to continue her amazing adventure here at The Liberty School. As a dyslexic, gifted individual herself, Bry is passionate about guiding  our students on a creative, individualized path that they can call their own. 

Nuriya Akers, B. A., M.Ed., Academic Tutor 

This is Nuriya’s third year tutoring at The Liberty School. Nuriya has served as a private family tutor assisting students with math, writing, reading comprehension, test-taking strategies, and study skills for the past eleven years.  She earned her Masters of Education in Special Education from Utah State University and has worked as an educator in California, Utah, Alaska, and Colorado. Learning the Orton-Gillingham Method and working with students in the dyslexic population is a rewarding and welcome expansion in her teaching! Nuriya is also a massage therapist and works for Hospice of Montezuma in Cortez, Colorado and Trimble Hot Springs.

Lauren Geraghty, B.F.A,
AcademicTutor

Lauren is a graduate of the University of Arizona and has enjoyed tutoring at the Liberty School for the past 8 years. She also teaches small groups of students at Columbine Christian School using the Orton-Gillngham approach. During her summers, she also tutors at the Durango Mountain Camp. She and her husband Gerry moved to Durango in 2001 where she embarked on teaching kindergarten. That is when she discovered teaching the Orton-Gillingham approach. Since then Lauren and Gerry have birthed two dyslexic boys, who are now 13 and 11, while she pursued a part-time career as an OG tutor.

Claudia White,
Academic Tutor

Claudia White began at The Liberty School in as an ARP (Active Reinforcement Period). Through this position at The Liberty School, a natural interest to become an Orton-Gillingham (OG) Tutor emerged. She then became trained in the OG approach and has been tutoring at the Liberty School for the past 3 years. Claudia has also been a tutor at Durango Mountain Camp for 3 summers. Like many of the staff at Liberty, her own son is dyslexic and attended the Durango Mountain Camp for Dyslexic children 14 years ago and she is more than pleased to pay it forward.

Pam Savage,

Gifted Specialist/Teacher

Pam Savage, MA/Phd Ed., has been with the Liberty School as a teacher and Gifted Program Director since opening in 2007. During the summer, she tutors dyslexic and twice exceptional students at the Durango Mountain Camp. She loves the challenges of working with students of all ages and has a passion for helping students identify and reach their potential. Last year, she was

instrumental in developing an after school gifted enrichment program for the Durango community. Pam is the proud parent of four beautiful daughters and the grandparent of four

grandchildren. When she is not ensconced in her favorite work projects, she enjoys ATV riding,

dancing, drawing, computers, and photography. Contact Pam at psavage@thelibertyschool.org.

M.J. Bilgrav, B.A., B.S. AOGPE, Head of Academic Tutors

M.J.  has been the head of the OG tutoring department at The Liberty School for the past 5 years, where she also tutors. She is the co-founder and co-director of Durango Mountain Camp, and she is certified by the Orton-Gillingham Academy as a certified language therapist. Before moving to Durango in 1996, she was the co-founder and co-director of Pacific Quest Outdoor Adventures which specialized in group outdoor adventure education programs in Hawaii and the Pacific. M.J. has been teaching dyslexic students for over 25 years. Until recently, she taught English and math at a small private high school that boasted a 60% dyslexic population.

Zane Bilgrav, BA Candidate,
Academic Tutor

Zane has recently come to us as The Liberty School's first MALE tutor! He has been immersed in the Orton-Gillingham his whole life as his mother, MJ, raised him on Orton-Gillingham and he grew up spending his summers around his parents' OG Camp in Durango, Colorado as a study hall proctor. So it's only natural that he has followed in his family's footsteps and is now an OG Academic Tutor himself. Zane is currently an Adventure Education–a major which holds many of OGs beliefs about the educational process. Zane is also dyslexic as well, so he greatly identifies with the learning style of many of our students.

Wendy Kurtz, M.Ed,
Academic Tutor

Wendy Kurtz holds a Master's in Education with a Special Education concentration with a Colorado Certification as a Special Education Generalist ages 5-21. She is Orton -Gillingham trained and an Associate Member of The Academy of OG Practitioners and Teachers. Wendy is working on her Certified Level Membership and she is the first to tell you that tutoring is the wind behind her sails and there is nothing like teaching students with struggles and stretches to overcome these challenges. Using children's strengths to aid this cause is where her instruction comes in. Wendy tells us "Tutoring dyslexics are my absolute favorite joy. Their ingenuity and insights are remarkable. Yes, each student is their unique self, and each overcomes in ways only one-on-one tutoring can do."

Jake Heady,
ARP & Specials Teacher

Jake joins us recently as the ARP (Active Reinforcement Period) Supervisor and is also teaching Monday Specials classes. Jake loves to work with kids. He was the recipient of San Juan Basin Health’s 2017 Adult Role Model of the Year award for Durango. He is the head JV softball coach for Durango High School and is also the Director of Youth Ministries at his church. He loves to spend time in the outdoors, playing music and sports, and most importantly working with youth!

Juliet Zick,

Teacher

Juliet is a Durango native with three children. She first came to Liberty desperate to find help for her twice-exceptional sons. After seeing the profound results of Orton-Gillingham tutoring and project-

based learning at The Liberty School, she decided to jump on board and became a tutor. One and a half

years later, she decided to get her teaching certification at Fort Lewis College. She officially joined the 

Liberty staff as a teacher/tutor in 2015, and has been greatly involved with Liberty for the past five years. She feels blessed to be able to pass on the hope that was given to her family at The Liberty School, and excited to share her natural energy, love-of-learning, and humor with her students. Contact Juliet at jzick@thelibertyschool.org.

Sheryl Bidart, M.CommAcademic Tutor

Sheryl comes to us from Sparks, Nevada searching for an adequate education for her dyslexic son. She was an avid business owner prior to her relocation to Durango and as she became assimilated into The Liberty Family, an interest in the Orton-Gillingham (OG) learning approach that has been helping remediate her son was piqued. Not only is Sheryl passionate at empowering dyslexic students to become cognizant of their unique gifts, she has been a staunch advocate in helping other families understand their rights in the public school system and seek the appropriate educational entitlements for their own dyslexic children under the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Tracy Brothers,
Academic Tutor

Tracy Brothers is a seasoned, academic tutor in the Orton-Gillingham Approach at the Liberty School as this is her seventh year tutoring our Liberty students as well as serving at the Durango Mountain Camp for the past 12 years. Tracy truly has a passion to empower her students' growth in all aspects of their learning,  enabling these kiddos to strive to reach their full potential. Tracy's experience in teaching/relating to her students' needs is a familiar joueney, as dyslexia is no stranger to Tracy's world–all four of her girls exhibited dyslexic traits and behaviors while she homeschooled them for 13 years.

Laura Kuniansky, PH.D,
Academic Tutor

If anyone has a fervor for helping and empowering children, it's Laura Kuniansky. Dr. Laura has been teaching since 1976 and has served not only as a teacher but also a Dyslexia Intervention Specialist and a Colorado Licensed Reading Professional, SpEd. She is currently on a project with the Southern Ute Education Department. She recently earned a PH.D. in Education which will help spread her passion for helping dyslexic students even further. 

 

Jenni Rioux,
Office Manager

Jenni Rioux (pronounced "Rio") comes to us from northern Arizona and is our beloved Office Officianado. She is the proud mom of three children–two teenage sons and a college-aged daughter. One of her sons attended The Liberty School during the 2016-2017 school year. When not running The Liberty School Administration like a well-oiled machine and being a mother, Ms. Jenni relishes in winter sports, swimming, horseback riding, long walks on the beach and Yanni. 

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The Liberty School ✦ 3107 Western Avenue ✦ Durango, CO 81301 ✦ PH 970.385.4834 ✦ EMAIL info@thelibertyschool.org

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