Our Staff

Gateway preschool and kindergarten classes will always be under the supervision of an American Montessori Society certified Montessori directress.  Directresses and primary assistants are Group Leader Qualified by the State.  The staff at Gateway is extremely experienced.  The lead classroom staff has from 2-20 years experience in Montessori classrooms with the average being over 9 years.

We maintain a ratio of 1 adult to no more than 10 children in the preschool classrooms as required by the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Reyn Hedger, Head of School and Lead Teacher


“Our goal is not merely to cause a child to understand and even less to force him to memorize, but rather to so touch his imagination so as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”
–Maria Montessori

Reyn holds a Master in Education with Honors from St. Catherine University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Religion from Cornell College.  She earned her Montessori Early Childhood credential from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 1999, and earned her Large Center Director Certification from the State of Colorado in 2007. Reyn completed her Montessori Administrator Credential from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2017.  She has been teaching since 1993, with 6 years at Gateway before becoming Gateway’s Head of School in 2013.

The quote above is what I love about Montessori education. The learning just happens as you help the child develop their sense of self, their independence, their sense and control of their body as well as their friendships. Dr. Montessori designed educational materials that draw the child’s interest and lead the child to discover a principal. The materials are self correcting so that it is not up to the teacher to declare right or wrong, the child will make the discovery. The material, along with a very well thought out, prepared environment enable us to allow absolute freedom for the child within very clear limits. I just love to see the children’s confidence and independence grow day by day.  We live in such a great time in history for education. As the experts are mapping children’s brains and studying how children learn best, the results point right back to what Maria Montessori observed over 100 years ago.

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”–L. R. Knost

Anayeli Vazquez, Lead Teacher, Lilac Classroom and Spanish Teacher


“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori
“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” —Maria Montessori

Anayeli or Nelly holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors in Contemplative Psychology and Visual Arts with a minor in Art Therapy from Naropa University. She attained her Early Childhood Credential from Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2011. Anayeli has been at Gateway since 2010. She is bi-lingual and leads our Spanish program.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Einstein Said, “it is the supreme art of the teacher to awake joy in creative expression and knowledge”. A Montessori environment is developmentally appropriately designed and prepared to provide children with opportunities for choice, decision making, problem solving, independence, and responsibility. As a teacher supported by the Montessori principles and materials, it is my duty to aid the student with the ability , motivation and attitude to succeed. I am inspired to make this my life mission. I am a painter and photographer, and encourage my students to explore and express themselves with different mediums of art, language and music. I truly enjoy teaching and have come to see it not as a job or a career but as a passion. Making a difference in the lives of my students is very important to me.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” — Maria Montessori

Denise Cruz, Assistant Teacher, Bluebell Classroom


“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”

Denise has a Bachelor’s in Accounting and has years of experience in Montessori Education. She has worked with children since early 2002 and shows her passion for teaching in the classroom. She has continued her education and enjoys implementing her course in to the classroom. Denise enjoys watching each child flourish and develop new skills throughout the classroom.

Emily Yoder, Lead Teacher and Kindergarten Teacher


“What the child wants to do is to master his environment, finding therein the means for his development.”—Maria Montessori

Emily holds a Master in Education with Honors from St. Catherine University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado in Social Science with Honors in History. She received her Early Childhood credential from National Center for Montessori Education. She has been working in early childhood education since 1994. Emily joined Gateway in 2013 to establish the Parent/Child class, then in 2014 moved into the Preschool Classroom. She currently is Kindergarten Directress.

“I believe education begins at birth.  Children absorb their surroundings and are fascinated with exploring the world.  Their natural curiosity leads to moments of pure wonderment as they make a new discovery.  This process is amazing to witness.  We encourage their independence and self-confidence by offering lessons and materials to allow the child to develop an enthusiasm for learning that will last a lifetime.“

Tessa Dawson, Lead Teacher, Bluebell Classroom


“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try!” –Dr. Seuss

Tessa holds a Bachelor of Arts in French with a Minor in Geology from the University of Colorado. She came to Gateway in the Summer of 2015 with several years experience as a Tutor and Nanny. Tessa has a love of Montessori born from her own childhood Montessori experience. Tessa received her Montessori Early Childhood Credential from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in 2017.

“I love working and interacting with children because they remind me every day of the importance of curiosity – curiosity to visit new places, curiosity to meet new people, and curiosity to never stop learning.“

Beckie Hagerman, Lead Teacher, Bluebell Classroom


Rebecca has a certificate from Montessori Primary teaching from North American Montessori Center. She has worked with a variety of ages in both a classroom setting and also, a classroom setting. She loves to share her lessons of beauty for planets and enjoys helping each child grow at their own pace. She enjoys learn new techniques through new methods and lessons in education by continuing her education.

Maryel Adams, Lead Teacher, Bluebell Classroom


Maryel has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado and received her Montessori certificate from MECR.  She has worked in the field of early childhood education since 1991, including homeschooling her four children for a time.  Maryel loves taking her time to give individual lessons and support the development of each child in the classroom.

Nancy Mitchell, Lead Teacher, Toddler Classroom

Hi, my name is Nancy Mitchell. I am a Colorado native. I went to CU Boulder and got my degree in psychology. I took my Montesori 0-3 training at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. I have been teaching for close to 30 years. I have 2 grown children and a dog. I enjoy the outdoors like hiking, biking, swimming and running. I am excited to get to know you and your children.

Eylisch Porter, Assistant Teacher, Toddler Classroom


Eylisch graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Minor in Disability Studies.  She completed her teaching practicum at the Early Care and Education Center in Laramie, Wyoming.  That is where she found her love for working with children!  Eylisch got her Montessori Assistant credential from MECR, and has been with Gateway since 2021.  When not in the classroom Eylisch loves spending time with her dog.  

“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” 

Kaiya Goldenberg, Office/Administration


Kaiya graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology from University of Colorado. Kaiya also holds a degree in Culinary Arts and enjoys sharing healthy recipe ideas at Gateway. She has been working with children of various ages since 2015 and enjoys spending time in the classrooms getting to know each student. In her free time, Kaiya enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family, in their teardrop camper.

Anna Kolclanes, Assistant Teacher, Toddler


Anna holds a B.S. in English from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Business from Colorado State University.  Anna came to Montessori by way of her son when she was looking for an engaging practical, hands-on experience for his education.  She joined Gateway in February 2022 and intends to pursue her Montessori credential in the near future.  In her free time, Anna enjoys hiking, dancing, and playing with her son.

Victoria Shadwick, Assistant Teacher, Toddler


Victoria learned about the Montessori philosophy through books and research after becoming a parent in 2020. She is passionate about fostering independence, resilience, and determination in all age groups, but especially enjoys working with toddlers.  She intends to pursue her Toddler Montessori credential soon. In her free time, Victoria enjoys hiking, skydiving, traveling and cooking.

Torey Schmidt, Assistant Teacher, Lilac


Torey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Wyoming, as well as a Master of Science in Elementary Reading and Math.  She is working towards her Masters in Early Childhood Montessori Curriculum and Instruction.  She has 6 years of public school experience in K-2, and is excited for her first year of Montessori experience! Outside of school, Torey enjoys running, skiing, and playing hockey.