Arts Faculty

Learn a bit about our fantastic Arts faculty here!

Corky Dean

Corky Dean

Titles: Art Teacher
Biography:

B.F.A. - Art Education
M.A. - Art History

"My job is to find out what makes each of my students tick, then open appropriate doors that not only meet their skills and interests, but also push them in new directions.”

Mr. Dean enjoys learning, and appreciates that teaching encourages him to stay on top of the most relevant and recent research and progress in fields he is interested in. Prior to coming to Kent Denver, Mr. Dean taught at St. Mary’s Academy, and was involved in Museum Education in Denver and Massachusetts for 12 years.

Pete Ellis

Pete Ellis

Titles: Drama, Math Teacher
Biography:

A.B. - English
A.B. - Mathematics
M.S. - Mathematics

“How do we live in the world? What is our relationship to the world and the people in it? How do we use qualitative and quantitative language and reasoning to negotiate our way through the world? These questions continue to inform my approach to teaching, in both acting and math.”

There is a wonderful synergy between the performing arts and Mathematics. “As theatre uses the language of dramatic action to describe the human experience, so does science use the language of mathematics to describe the natural world,” Mr. Ellis says. “Though inherently limited, both seek knowledge and understanding through a kind of storytelling, and endeavor to do so with symmetric curiosity, elegance and grace. Accordingly, I endeavor to help students develop their voices within these languages, and I encourage them to consider it worthy of their time and energy to strive for the highest level of fluency of which they are capable. If they are willing, mystery and magic await.”

Jon Fortmiller

Jon Fortmiller

Titles: Art Teacher
Biography:

B.A. - Visual Art and Art History
Richard Drew Award for Excellence in Teaching
Stanford Certificate for Excellence in Teaching

“I love discovering the inventive solutions students develop to complete my assignments.”

Mr. Fortmiller enjoys helping students learn creative problem solving and visual communication skills. Prior to joining Kent Denver, Mr. Fortmiller was a graphic designer in Boston, MA.

Judy Graese

Judy Graese

Titles: Director of Costuming
Biography:

“I choose to work at Kent Denver because it is family!”

Ms. Graese began her Kent Denver career in the 1970s. Originally hired as a modern dance teacher, she applied her extensive artistic expertise in many other areas over the years, teaching drawing, painting, photography and a wealth of additional visual and performing arts courses. Today, she serves as the Upper School costumer and designs period-authentic costumes for plays as diverse as Argonautika, Oliver, Annie and Grease, to name just a few.

“I believe my role makes a difference in students’ lives,” Ms. Graese says. “Students observe a dedicated and hard-working member of the theater technical staff and they trust that I will absolutely do my job right."

Ms. Graese studied art at Augustana College and dance at the University of Colorado. Among her many accolades are recognition in “Who’s Who in American Art” and being a recipient of the University of Denver’s “Living Legend of Dance in Colorado” award in 2016.

Steve Holley

Steve Holley

Titles: Performing Arts Teacher
Biography:

B.M.
M.M.

“Beyond music, one of the things I try to convey to my kids is a sense of professionalism and entrepreneurialism that can translate to any profession. Life skills including showing up to the gig on time, in the appropriate dress, with the right gear, ready to perform are skills that are helpful to any student, whether they choose to pursue music or not.”

A trained musician, Mr. Holley played music professionally throughout the U.S. and abroad in almost every style of music before coming to Kent Denver. In his time here, his ensembles and combos have won a record 10 DownBeat magazine awards for their work. He has taken his performance groups all around the world.

Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell

Titles: Chair, Fine Arts Department
Biography:

B.A.
M.A.L.S.

“If you step into my room during a class, you will find students building, drawing, thinking, painting, creating, exploring and having fun. Art is an outlet for many students and I love that I can provide them with opportunities that may not be available to them anywhere else.”

For Ms. Mitchell, no day at work is the same as the last. She started her career teaching high school at a boarding school, and has been rewarded in her job ever since.

Margaret NeJame

Margaret NeJame

Titles: Art Teacher
Biography:

B.F.A. - Art Education
Burges Green Distinguished Teaching Chair

“I try and help individual self-awareness and self-confidence. I love to see kids learn how to think in a visual manner.”

Before Kent Denver, Ms. NeJame was a member of Core Gallery and worked in Jefferson County, where she made many connections in the art education community, connections she uses frequently in her teaching.

Lee-Lee Newcomb

Lee-Lee Newcomb

Biography:
B.A. - Sociology
Kali Paguirigan

Kali Paguirigan

Biography:
M.F.A. - Vocal Performance
B.M. - Vocal Performance
Taylor Pringle

Taylor Pringle

Titles: Drama Teacher
Biography:
Taylor Pringle strongly believes theater is a venue to unite communities. As a result, many projects are collaborative and focus on generating original student work. She creates an environment that encourages students to express themselves and to discover their individual strengths as artists. Students are constantly on their feet as active participates in kinesthetic learning.
Ted Reece

Ted Reece

Titles: Guitar Teacher
Biography:

B.A. - Music Performance
Member: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers 

“Creating music is a lifetime endeavor. I enjoy making music a part of students’ lives. I encourage students to take risks, and in doing so I try to build their self-esteem and encourage their success.”

Mr. Reece is an award-winning guitarist who has performed throughout Metro Denver and across the tristate region. Before coming to Kent Denver, he worked as the Operations Manager at Denver Guitar Institute.

 

Our Contributing Artists

Our Contributing Artists are professional musicians who support the program and guide our student-musicians throughout the school year. With a wealth of experience, insight and understanding, they employ their talents to develop the abilities—and broaden the minds—of our student musicians.

Kim Dawson

Kim Dawson is a professional singer and graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Her musical influences range from Stevie Wonder to Sarah Vaughan to Tina Turner. She has performed with music legends and Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers such as Bernie Worrell, Ivan Neville and George Porter, Jr., and is currently touring internationally as a member of the band Pimps of Joytime. Kim has brought her skills to the teaching arena at Kent Denver School, The National Theater Conservatory and Swallow Hill Music. Her talent is matched only by her drive to learn, develop and finely hone her craft and she delivers a sound that is rife with her breadth and depth of experiences.


Elijah Samuels

Elijah Samuels is a Denver-based saxophonist, composer and educator. In 2007. he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music with emphasis in Music Education from San Francisco State University. In 2010, he was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music and moved to New York City. He then transferred to the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver as a graduate teaching assistant where he directed the University Jazz Ensemble and taught applied saxophone.
He can be found performing in groups and venues ranging in styles such as the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra & Adam Bartczak Republic at Dazzle to musical theatre orchestras at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He has also composed and arranged music for string quartet, saxophone quartet, big band and studio orchestra.
Along with his private studio, Elijah also teaches at University of Colorado-Denver.

Zakk Wooten

Zakk Wooten is a Denver-based professional musician and educator. He received from the with a Bachelor of Music Education, emphasis in Voice, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008. While attending college, Mr. Wooten founded and directed the award winning vocal group Rocktavo.

Immediately after graduation, he started touring the world singing vocal a cappella music with The Cat’s Pajamas. Mr. Wooten has been featured on nationally broadcast television and has shared the stage with artists such as Chubby Checker and Ben Folds. He can often be found performing multiple styles of music in a wide range of venues throughout the region. In addition to working in his private studio, Mr. Wooten teaches at Denver Music Institute.

He is an award-winning arranger whose works are performed by local and international ensembles of all sizes. He has a passion for music and the pursuit of knowledge, and says, “I strive to practice, instill and encourage the belief that we can all be better than we were yesterday if we commit to that choice.”

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