Arts Faculty

Learn a bit about our fantastic Arts faculty here!

Justin Adams

Justin Adams

Titles: Producer of Commercial Music
Biography:

B.A. - Music
M.M. - Jazz and Commercial Music Performance

"Music is an art form that teaches that mistakes are a welcome part of life. I regularly see students adopting a tenacious ability to integrate all of their life experiences, both planned and unplanned, into a mature outlook that gives birth to real adulthood."

Mr. Adams joined Kent Denver from the University of Colorado and Metro State University, where he taught jazz, classical, pop, Latin music, composition, improvisation, ear-training, songwriting and piano. He is currently the musical director and pianist for Lannie Garrett and performs regularly with nationally known artists.

Corky Dean

Corky Dean

Titles: Art Teacher, Head Coach: Cross Country, Track and Field
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. Marys Academy, and was involved in Museum Education in Denver and Massachusetts for 12 years.

Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis

Titles: Drama Teacher, Math Teacher
Biography:

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

"As theater uses the language of dramatic action to describe the human experience, so does science use the language of mathematics to describe the natural world. 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."

"There is a wonderful synergy between the performing arts and mathematics. As theater 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."

Jonathan Fortmiller

Jonathan 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, Massachusetts.

Judith Graese

Judith Graese

Titles: Director of Costuming
Biography:
"When students work with me, they observe a strong, dedicated theater person in a responsible position."

Since joining the Kent School for Girls in the fall of 1969 as a dance teacher, Judy Graese has inspired countless students, faculty and parents with her creativity and artistic passion. In her current role as head costumer for the Upper School's Kent Denver Players, Ms. Graese helps students bring characters to life on stage. "I love working here because it brings me into contact with positive young people," she says.

In addition to her work at Kent Denver, Ms. Graese is also an accomplished artist, serving as an illustrator for several books and doing one-woman shows at galleries across the nation. Prior to her arrival at KDS, Ms. Graese was a costumer with the Murray Louis Dance Company in NYC. A co-founder of Colorado Contemporary Dance, she was named a Colorado Living Legend of Dance in 2016.

Carrie Green

Carrie Green

Titles: Director of Middle School
Biography:

M.A. - Educational Leadership
B.A. - English and Film Studies

"For me, middle school is the center of the universe. The habits of mind that are formed in middle school become the foundation for success not only in high school and college, but in life."

Carrie Green began her tenure as Kent Denver's Director of Middle School in 2017. "Kent Denver is an incredible community—one that is grounded in history, yet forward-thinking as it considers its next chapter," she says. "Kent Denver's core values are more than just words. They are a practice. Kent Denver is Integrity, Respect, Personal Growth, Community and Wisdom."

Ms. Green previously served as Interim Head of Middle School, Assistant Head of Middle School and Dean of Students at St. John's School in Houston, Texas. Prior to that, she was a teacher and advisor at her alma mater, Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California.

Alainey Hellman

Alainey Hellman

Titles: Innovation Associate, Technology and Design, Head Robotics Coach
Biography:

B.A. - Computer Science

“As a teacher, I aim to create an environment that is both engaging and supportive of students.”

Ms. Hellman joined Kent Denver in 2019 as a Rollins Institute for Technology and Design Robotics Fellow and coach for the school’s VEX robotics team. She previously worked as a coordinator for Brown University's pre-college summer program and served as a teaching assistant for Design/UIUX courses.

With a strong passion for the integration of technology and art, Ms. Hellman hopes to inspire students to explore these fields from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell

Titles: Chair, Fine Arts Department, Art Teacher
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

"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. She is also a past recipient of the school's Burges Green Distinguished Teaching Chair.

Tommy Nolan

Tommy Nolan

Titles: Technical Theater Director
Biography:

B.A. - Theatre Education & Theatrical Design Production

From providing fun and informative slides and music at weekly assemblies to bringing diverse worlds to life on stage through imaginative set designs, Tommy Nolan brings creativity and joy to many aspects of life at Kent Denver.

Mr. Nolan came to Kent Denver in 2017 from DSST Stapleton and, prior to that, the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago.

Kali Paguirigan

Kali Paguirigan

Titles: Music Teacher, Choir Director
Biography:

M.F.A. - Vocal Performance
B.M. - Vocal Performance

"I teach what I love and I live what I teach."

Ms. Pagurigan came to Kent Denver in 2017 after working as a music teacher at Graland Country Day School in Denver and City and Country School in New York City. She also sings professionally in several Denver-area vocal ensembles and is a director for the Denver Chidren's Choir.

Taylor Pringle

Taylor Pringle

Titles: Drama Teacher
Biography:

B.A. - Theatre
M.F.A. - Drama and Theatre for Youth

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 participants in kinesthetic learning.

Zakk Wooten

Zakk Wooten

Titles: Music Teacher
Biography:

B.A. - Music Education

“We strive to know more about ourselves, each other and our craft than we did the day before.”

A longtime professional musician, sound engineer and music educator, Zakk Wooten plays a key role in developing student-musicians in Kent Denver's Commercial Music program.