Kara Allen
Middle School English, Castle Pines
I am a Colorado native and have proudly spent most of my life here. I obtained my English education degree from Colorado State University. I have taught both middle school and high school, but my passion is working with middle school students. I enjoy reading and outdoor sports such as hiking, snowboarding, and camping. However, more recently, I have been enjoying motherhood with my young son.
Shannon Donohoe
Middle School English Instructor, Castle Pines
I was born in North Carolina but was raised in Littleton, CO, where I went to Chatfield Senior High. I studied English at Metropolitan State College of Denver and received a degree in English with a Secondary Licensure. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, running, dancing, hiking, and spending time with my closest friends. I’m an avid Broncos fan and love watching almost all sports. I’m constantly laughing and try my best to enjoy life. Teaching has provided me with a simple joy that is irreplaceable, and there is nothing I would rather do for a living.
April Finney
Middle School English Instructor, Castle Pines
Originally from New England, I was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Eastern Connecticut University in 1999 with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Education. My family and I moved to Colorado in 2008, where I have spent the past years teaching in Centennial and Denver. I have taught many grades during my years in education, and I also worked as a Director of Education for Sylvan Learning. My passion has always been for literacy and I am very excited to be a part of the American Academy Middle School English Department. In my spare time (which there isn’t much of), I enjoy reading and tearing apart my Aurora home with a variety of DIY home improvement projects. My husband and I are active in our son’s Boy Scout troop and also enjoy camping with him. We love being in Colorado and our only regret is that we didn’t come sooner!
Amanda Gray
Middle School Math Instructor, Castle Pines
Life before Colorado included a ten mile radius on the north shore of Massachusetts. I learned at a young age to listen to my father. When I told him I wanted to teach, he said go into math! I rebelled, but was the only history major in my Calculus 2 class. Dual certified to teach history and math, he was right and I’ve loved every moment of the 13+ years teaching math. In 2014, my husband and I took a risk and decided to move someplace we’d never been. We haven’t regretted it for a second. I miss the ocean but oooooh the mountains! Outside of teaching and tutoring, I spend my days being lazy on the couch with a great book and my two dogs or exploring this amazing state with my camera. I’m determined to find all the wildlife Colorado has to offer.
Brittany Larson
Middle School History Instructor, Castle Pines
Although I moved here when I was two, I consider myself a Colorado native. I was raised in Lakewood and graduated from Green Mountain High School. I then went to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where I graduated with a degree in education and history. My first year of teaching was spent in Rangely, CO, where I taught high school Social Studies and Spanish. I then spent 6 months teaching at a secure youth facility for girls. I am excited to be teaching here at American Academy and cannot wait to share my love of history with my students!
Mark Leadbetter
Middle School History Instructor, Castle Pines
"Impossible is nothing." This old ad motto for Adidas is truly a motto to live by. In teaching both mathematics and history this year, I truly believe that nothing is impossible. I graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in Middle Childhood Education with certifications in both mathematics and social studies. My wife, Kelly, and I are fortunate enough to call Colorado home now, but we will never forget our roots in Ohio. I enjoy Reds baseball, Bengals football, and though it may be hard to believe, the Michigan Wolverines. I can often be found reading, playing some sort of sport or trying to solve the latest mind teaser. A comedian at heart, and a lifelong learner in my head, I am excited to share those traits with young minds for years to come!
Michael Monte
Middle School Math Instructor, Castle Pines
I was born and raised in Southern California before we moved to Colorado in 2007. I am blessed to have been with my wife since 1990 and we are grateful to be the parents of three incredible children. I have been teaching students here at American Academy since 2013 and I really enjoy helping Math make sense. I pursued my passion to educate and mentor these young adults after having been an engineer for 16 years. When I am not educating, tutoring, coaching or mentoring, I love spending time with my family and friends, enjoying our beautiful state, traveling, and playing drums and percussion.
Daniel Rinkoski
Middle School Math Instructor, Castle Pines
Born and raised in Michigan, I’ve always enjoyed spending time outdoors and exploring new places and concepts. I found myself excited to learn new information and wanting to share and teach others. This lead to my attendance of Eastern Michigan University, where I completed my studies in Science and Mathematics in the education field. For the past couple years, I have been teaching advanced mathematics, and grade level math in south west Kansas. I am very excited to be in the mountains and teaching math this year!
Jennifer Wray
Middle School Science Instructor, Castle Pines
I grew up in West Texas and went to college at Trinity University in San Antonio staying for a fifth year to obtain my Masters of Arts in Teaching. After spending 22 years in Texas, I was ready for a change and ready for mountains! I moved to Denver in 2009 and couldn’t be happier about it. In my free time, I love all things outdoors. You can find me backpacking, biking, climbing, or skiing in the mountains. I am so happy to be a part of the American Academy family and I am really looking forward to teaching Earth Science again. I love learning about the Earth and I can’t wait to explore it with the 6th graders!