Chris Bennecke was born and raised in Chicago and after living in Iowa, California, and Nevada, he finally arrived here in Colorado with his wife and three daughters in 2011.

Educationally, after wrestling for Iowa State, he earned undergraduate degrees in Youth Ministry, Adolescent Studies, and Social Studies. Mr. Bennecke went on to earn his Master's degree with honors in Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix. In the past and literally at any time, he teaches in several areas including: All levels of English, World Geography, Government, US History, World History, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Psychology. 

Mr. Bennecke has been mentoring adolescents in local churches, the business world, or the classroom for over 20 years. He loves coming back to the Virtual Academy every year (now his 5th year) and is excited to be a part of the future of online education. With the spare time he doesn't have, he has also been spotted running in the mountains and coaching wrestling all over the nation and even at the Olympic Training Center.


Janni Black has been in education for over two decades now, beginning her teaching journey in secondary English education. Not long after completing her Masters in Special Education, she discovered her love for creating all things digital, and then gained CTE certification in Information Technology. For the last 18 years she has been teaching a variety of computer skills including 2-D animation, Cisco networking, web design, game design, and even most recently, mobile app design! Her main goal as she teaches? Simply, it is to motivate students to become problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and proactive project and time managers. It's about helping students unearth the potential to succeed, and ignite an insatiable desire to continue learning!

When not teaching, she greatly enjoys time with her husband, her two sons and the family's long-eared basset hound. With the exception of McCoy, the basset, you can often find them boating Colorado lakes, exploring old ghost towns on winter snowshoe hikes, and enjoying warm mountain breezes on one of many of our state's beautiful mountain trails.


Kristen Boehm has been a teacher with Jeffco Virtual Academy since its inception in 2009, first as an adjunct teacher and now teaching full-time.

Kristen attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she earned a B.S. in Kinesiology and CU-Denver where she earned an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. 

Although Kristen started as the Spanish teacher with JVA, she is excited to be teaching Sciences and Health/P.E. again, as she did at the beginning of her career. Helping students to understand how to make healthy choices for themselves and the earth has always been something that she thoroughly enjoys. 



Mrs. Chick teaches art and history at Virtual Academy. She earned a BFA in photography from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Humanities from the University of Colorado at Denver. She’s been teaching in Jefferson County since 2006 and has been teaching full time at Virtual Academy since 2014. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, exploring museums or the outdoors, and writing.


Tricia Cole has been teaching math for 9 years, since graduating from DePaul University in Chicago. She brings with her experience in the brick and mortar setting as well as teaching in virtual settings before joining Jeffco Virtual Academy. Tricia has experience teaching both at the middle school and high school level. She enjoys working with numbers and sharing her passion with students. Teaching online gives Tricia great opportunity to use modern day technology. She is always exploring new ways to present material, and continues to take classes to stay on top of emerging technology to take to her classroom and share with her students. Tricia's experience with online education has been rewarding and she looks forward to her career with Jeffco Virtual Academy. When Tricia is not teaching, she loves to take advantage of this great place we call home and spends lots of time hiking, biking, running and camping.


Cheryl Donnel currently teaches Calculus and Middle School Math for Jeffco Virtual Academy. She received both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Northern Colorado, and has been teaching middle and high school mathematics for 16 years. Eight of those years were spent teaching math in the north area Gifted and Talented Program, where she also received her endorsement in Gifted Education. She has been teaching at Jeffco Virtual Academy since 2013.


Kris Edwards has been a music educator in Jeffco for over 30 years. She has taught at all grade levels and served as Jeffco’s Music Curriculum Coordinator supporting Grades K-12 for 6 years before joining JVA.

She received her Music Education degree from the University of Wisconsin, and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Creative Arts from Lesley College, Boston, MA. Mrs. Edwards has also worked as a music consultant for MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., and has presented numerous workshops both in Colorado and several other states. She is especially excited to be working with the students at JVA and helping them to explore the many facets of the musical world.

In her spare time, Mrs. Edwards loves to work out, golf, fly fish and spend time with her children, grandchildren, husband and their rescue dog Dixie.



Mrs. Erholtz grew up in the "Icebox of the Nation" (I. Falls, MN). She attended the University of MN-Duluth and earned undergraduate degrees in health education and exercise science with minors in coaching and psychology. She then went back to school and earned a degree in special education with emphases in learning and behavioral disorders and eventually a master's degree from St. Mary's University in teaching and learning. Most recently, she completed a career and technical education licensure and passed the PE Place test.

In her seventeen years of teaching, she has taught in a variety of places and settings encompassing all grade levels K-12 and most subject areas including a self-contained behavioral classroom! Love of the mountains and an outdoor lifestyle brought her and her husband to Colorado in 2006. Mrs. Erholtz is a competitive mountain and snowshoe runner. She has represented the U.S. five times at the World Mountain Running Championships. She is a vegetarian and loves chocolate! In her free time, she enjoys baking, cooking and reading. Her husband is Athletic Director at Summit High School. They spend their summers traveling, hiking, and camping usually with their kids Asher and Zeke as well as their two dogs Ches-E and Teddy. They also have three kitties: Emma, Gizmo & Chopper. Mrs. Erholtz is looking forward to another ground-breaking year with the Virtual Academy!

"Success is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!"


Coming soon!



Mrs. Harr has been involved with online education for the past ten years. Prior to moving to high school online education, Mrs. Harr spent four years teaching with the community colleges online. She has a Master's degree in nursing with a health education focus. Mrs. Harr began her teaching career with the Community College of Denver nursing program. Mrs. Harr has taught pharmacology, nursing fundamentals, nursing assessment, and medical terminology classes online.

Mrs. Harr continues to teach Health and Psychology classes for the Virtual Academy high school students on an adjunct basis as she has a passion to ensure that students are educated on small ways to keep themselves both physically and mentally healthy in all aspects of their lives. Students educated in both physical and mental health classes learn to make small changes every day that can lead to large positive impacts on their overall health today and in their future. 


Penelope has been in Jeffco for over a decade, first as a GT Language Arts Teacher and then as a GT Resource Teacher.  She holds doctorate degree in German from the University of Oregon, is endorsed in several content areas, and has taught live and online at the middle school, high school, and university levels. 

Away from the computer and classroom, you will most likely find Penelope working with horses, knitting, enjoying the outdoors, doing yoga, or hanging out with her daughter and pet rabbit.  


Coming soon! 



This will be Mrs. Hetzel's 15th year teaching English Language Arts at the secondary level. She earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2007, and in 2010 she earned her Educational Specialist Doctorate degree in Educational Technology online from Walden University. This learning experience helped her to understand both sides of virtual learning both as a student and as an educator. Educational Technology is Mrs. Hetzel's passion and she loves to incorporate a wide variety of web 2.0 tools into her lessons to make learning more engaging and more student focused. Mrs. Hetzel lives in Centennial with her husband, son, and two naughty basset hounds.



Mari started her teaching career in 1991 at Jefferson High School. Since then she has taught various math and science courses at both Wheat Ridge and Green Mountain high schools. In addition she was an exchange teacher to Melbourne, Australia for a year. She has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and a Masters degree in Education from the University of Phoenix. Mari was awarded the 2016 Online and Blended Education Recognition Award from the Colorado Department of Education.


Rachael Marie Holloway graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2015, with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a minor in French. She has taught middle and high school French, along with dance, cooking and nutrition, and advisement courses. This is her 5th year teaching. She has traveled to many places in France (Alsace, Annecy, Brittany, Marseilles, Normandy, Avignon, St. Remy-de-Provence, Nice, Carry-le-Rouet, and of course, Paris), along with London, England and Reykjavik, Iceland. Rachael studied surrealism and psychoanalysis in Paris while in college, and is very passionate about French literary theory, language and semantics, literature and poetry, and existentialism. Rachael also likes dancing/ teaching ballet, and playing the piano. Rachael has been a vegetarian for about 10 years and loves nature and animals (she has blue parakeets and two kitties). In regards to education, Rachael believes “Vouloir c'est pouvoir,” / (translated literally: to want to, it is to be able to). When there's a will, there's a way.

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Sheila Humphreys joined the Standley Lake High School staff in August of 2000 and has taught Algebra 1, Geometry, Geometry Principles, Algebra 2, Algebra 2 Principles, Math Analysis/Trigonometry, Statistics, and AP Calculus. She earned her B.A. in Mathematics from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas in December of 1977 and her M.S. in Mathematics from Lamar University in August of 1979. Prior to her arrival at Standley Lake, Sheila taught high school and college for two years in Texas, spent six years in the Oil & Gas industry and nine years in the Aerospace industry before returning to her first love, teaching. She joined Jefferson County Public Schools in 1995 and taught at the middle school level for 5 years. In addition to her teaching duties, Sheila has been a sponsor of the National Honor Society where she has been involved in numerous community service projects. Her most prized award was her inclusion in the 2005-2006 edition of Who's Who Among America's Teachers.


Andy Kerr has been a social studies teacher for over 17 years. He has taught middle and high school and has been a curriculum specialist. His wife is also an educator, and they are raising their 3 kids in Lakewood. They both went through the JeffCo school system, and are happy that their kids are getting a great education here as well. Andy Kerr has taught online classes before, and in fact earned his Master's degree by doing an online cohort. While he has experience with all subjects within social studies, his passion lies in geography. Andy spent part of his youth growing up in other countries, and has visited over 20 countries in his life. His other area of interest in the social sciences is in politics, and he served in elected office for 10 years. In his free time, Andy enjoys snowboarding, cycling, hiking, camping, and traveling.



Meghan Leadford currently teaches Economics and U.S. History with the Virtual Academy. A Jefferson County graduate, Mrs. Leadford attended Golden High School then moved to Kentucky and earned a Bachelors degree in History from the University of Kentucky. After moving back to Colorado, Mrs. Leadford attended the University of Colorado at Denver to complete her teacher licensure and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught social studies at Aurora Central HS, Gateway HS, and Ralston Valley HS before joining the Virtual Academy in the fall of 2010. Mrs. Leadford enjoys teaching Social Studies courses because she views the content as a challenge for students to become informed citizens that analyze the world around them. Meghan is excited to work with the students and staff at the Virtual Academy and is looking forward to exploring all the opportunities available with online education.



Brita Letvin teaches Family and Consumer Sciences at Columbine High School and the Virtual Academy. She loves teaching FACS because there is always something new and interesting for her and her students. Some of the classes that Mrs. Letvin teaches are Child Development, Life Management, Fashion, Interior Design, and Foods. Mrs. Letvin recieved her Bachelor of Science if FACS with Secondary Education from Colorado State University and her MA in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. In her "spare" time, she loves playing with her two kids, reading, and going on family camping trips.



  • Army 11 years
  • Homemaker 9 years
  • Teacher 15 years
  • Advisory Team: Jeffco World Languages
  • CCFLT: Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers: Past-President
  • Jeffco Mentor teacher



Laura Long is a Jeffco graduate, a Colorado native, and a fourth-generation teacher. Her experience in English education spans two decades and three continents. She began teaching in the Japanese public schools (and still loves all things Japanese!) and soon thereafter taught English at a Swiss boarding school. While overseas, she traveled in 45 countries, experiences she enjoys sharing with her students. Since returning to Colorado in 1997, she has taught English at Sheridan High School, Wheat Ridge High School, and most recently Jeffco Virtual Academy. She believes education is the power and communication of ideas, and she embraces the potential of online learning to open doors for all students to learn in unique and individual ways. She is excited to be at Jeffco Virtual and looks forward to working with each of you. 


Laura Mace was born in Pueblo, Colorado and started working with kids at summer camp when she was sixteen. She graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in history and a passion for telling the stories of the past. Her teaching career began at Taos High School in 2012, where she taught a wide range of social studies classes and coached the speech and debate team. Ms. Mace is endorsed in social studies, language arts, and gifted education, and works at the nexus of these disciplines. Ms. Mace currently teaches Gifted and Talented social studies at Jeffco Virtual Academy, and several online high school courses for schools around the state. Laura is an avid climber, a yoga instructor and enjoys writing fiction. She loves helping students discover the beauty and complexity of the human story, and their part in it. 


Charlie McCarthy grew up in Connecticut and spent a lot of time in swimming pools as a swimmer, water polo player, and swim coach. He got an undergraduate degree in art from Penn State, where he also played and coached water polo. Charlie has a master's degree in elementary education from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He taught art and photography for two years at a high school in New Jersey and has been teaching 2nd-8th grade in Colorado since 1995.

In his free time, Charlie likes to spend time running with his dog, golfing, and being with his two children, Piper (in college) and Hudson (in high school). He's written and/or co-written 8 novels for children and uses those stories to teach and instill a love of reading and writing. Charlie just can't seem to get the chlorine out of his system, so he still plays master's water polo in Denver.


Jason Neely received his B.A. in Mathematics in 1997 from Western State College. In 2005, he received his M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from American Intercontinental University. Mr. Neely has been teaching math since 1997. He has been with Jeffco Virtual Academy since the school opened in 2008. He has been a Jeffco teacher since 2002 and has taught math classes at all levels including: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Integrated Algebra Geometry, Pre IB 9th grade, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Math Analysis, Pre-Calculus, and AP Calculus AB.


Brent Olyowski is originally from Pine Valley, NY. He attended SUNY Potsdam and received his BA in Biology and a physics minor.  In 1998, he moved to Denver after living near Boston and working for the Red Sox and their minor league team in Lowell. He started teaching in 2001 at Gilpin County High School. He earned his teaching license through the alternative teaching license program. After 3 years at Gilpin and another 4 in Littleton Public Schools, he wound up at Evergreen High School and has been there since. He has taught Physics continuously since 2008. He has 2 Masters in Educational Technology and Administration. This is his first year teaching an online class. Brent has 2 daughters, ages 12 & 9, a beautiful wife, 3 llamas (soon to be 4), 2 baby doll sheep, 1 alpaca, 38 chickens, 3 ducks, a bunny and Maine Coon cat. Brent is the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator for the Evergreen High School football team. He has coached for 17 years. In his spare time he loves to ski.


Ms. Robertson has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology, a M.A. in Secondary Science and is highly qualified in science. She has taught secondary science for 15 years and is recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher, a rigorous process where teachers analyze their teaching craft. She also currently works as an adjunct instructor with the Colorado Community College System. She has been teaching online for 9 years now and is proud to be a part of Jeffco Virtual.She really enjoys teaching science because students are naturally curious about nature and how our world works! It is her goal to make all of her students critical thinkers about science, society and human impacts. Apart from school, Ms. R enjoys yoga, running and cooking. She is passionate about nutrition and healthy living.

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Katie Self is so excited to be teaching Spanish at Jeffco Virtual Academy this school year.  She graduated with a BA in Spanish from Western Washington University, took teacher licensure classes through Metro State University, studied speech language pathology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and received a Master’s Degree in special education with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse students from the University of Colorado at Denver.  She loves studying about Spanish, linguistics, how students learn languages, as well as literature and culture from Spanish speaking countries. During her years studying Spanish as an undergrad, she got the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Morelia, México and Cádiz, Spain. After graduation, Katie went to China where she taught business English to college-aged students. She has been an elementary school special education teacher (helping students with reading, writing, and math in English and Spanish), a speech language pathology assistant, a bilingual elementary school teacher, and she has taught Spanish and English to students from preschool through adult.  

Travelling, both internationally as well as to nearby places such as national parks and volunteering are two things that Katie really enjoys.  She lives in Aurora, CO with her husband, their two kids (Jonah who just started high school and Grady who is in 8th grade), and their two cats.




Mr. Self was born in Canada and moved around a lot as a child, ending up in Bellingham, Washington for middle school, high school, and college. From 1999 - 2001, Mr. Self taught English at Shanghai University where he met his future wife and fellow JVA teacher Ms. Self.  They moved to Colorado and began teaching, and Mr. Self eventually 
completed a master's degree in Information and Learning Technologies from CU Denver, later earning additional endorsements in technology, school library, and social studies. He worked as an elementary literacy teacher, a middle school technology teacher, and a middle school librarian before becoming the Instructional Technology Coordinator at JVA in 2012 (where he works to help students and staff with all sorts of educational technology awesomeness).

Outside of school, Mr. Self likes to spend time with his family, he likes creating geeky audio and video projects using technology, and he likes playing live music.

He also thinks he's pretty funny.



Lena Schorr grew up in the mountains of Summit County spending as much time as she could outside. She loves to do most outdoor activities and loves helping others discover all that Colorado has to offer. She graduated from Western State Colorado University in 2015 with a Bachelors in Exercise and Sport Science with an emphasis on K-12 Physical Education. This will be her third year teaching at Jeffco Virtual and she is so excited to continue her teaching and learning this year.




Lucy Sopiarz-Rianda has been teaching for JVA for five years. She has 16 years teaching experience, both in traditional and on-line classrooms. She received a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans and M.A. in English Education from Colorado State University. Ms. Sopiarz-Rianda believes that on-line learning is a powerful and essential tool in today's education. She strives to create engaging and collaborative classroom learning opportunities for her students. Ms. Sopiarz-Rianda lives in Denver with her husband and two young sons enjoying an outdoor Colorado lifestyle including camping, running, biking and gardening.


Mrs. Stroup grew up in a small town in eastern Nebraska and has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and a Master's Degree in Secondary Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado – Boulder. Mrs. Stroup has been teaching math for 20 years at the middle school and high school levels and has taught professional development courses for Red Rocks Community College, PBS, and Jeffco. In addition, Mrs. Stroup has written online math curriculum as well as managed various math and science grants for the district.

Mrs. Stroup has two sons and one daughter. She lives with her husband and children in Golden. Her favorite vacation spot is the island of St. John in the Caribbean. Her hobbies would include travelling, hiking (being outdoors in general!), keeping in shape via crossfit, and attending her kids' extracurricular activities!


Coming soon!
Craig Walker

Craig Walker grew up in northeast Ohio just outside of Akron.  Both his parents were teachers, where his father spent most of his career as a H.S. guidance counselor.  Fun fact:  his father used to referee basketball and refereed MANY of LeBron James’ games when he was in high school at St. Vincent’s!

Craig went to Ohio University in southern Ohio and eventually transferred to The Ohio State University to finish his degree in sociology.  His interests have always been in the sciences and before finalizing his sociology degree, he majored in Geology and Environmental Science.  He then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Education from The Ohio State University as well.  In 2001, after receiving his graduate degree, he moved to Colorado.

Craig enjoys spending as much of his free time as possible outdoors cycling, hiking, and running.  He also “dabbles” in woodworking and has built some his own furniture for his home.

He currently lives in Evergreen and works for JeffCo as a Gifted & Talented Resource Teacher.


Katy Waskey has been in education for 10 years, working in both Jeffco and Douglas County School Districts and then transitioning to the Jeffco Adolescent Pregnancy & Parenting Program in 2017 at McLain High School. Supporting teen parents and their families has been a passion of hers that came authentically out of her love for young children and the joy she finds in working with teens.  

Katy received her Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in Family and Consumer Sciences education where her coursework focused primarily on child development and psychology. She continued her education at Capella University and earned her Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology. Katy is married with three daughters who are Jeffco students. In her free time, Katy enjoys gardening, hiking, traveling, listening to podcasts, and reading.




This is Sally White's fourth year of teaching for Virtual Academy, and she has thoroughly enjoyed it! She currently teaches Life Management, Culinary Nutrition, and Child Development at Lakewood High School and previous to that, spent 20 years at middle school.She graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Family and Consumer Science Core. Additionally, she has master's degrees from University of Phoenix and Colorado State University in School Counseling and School Administration.

She was born and raised in Texas but has spent the last 30+ years in Colorado and considers this her home. Probably her greatest accomplishment was raising her four kids as a single, working mom. However, her latest pride and joy is her granddaughter, Rose.Besides spending time with family and her beagle, Sophie, she loves to swim, read, and play the piano, and loves flowers. She is also an AVID sports fan.



Originally, Brady Yarletts grew up in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio where both parents were educators.

His father retired years ago after serving children for 37 years as a teacher and administrator. His mother is retired as well and has 35 years experience as a middle school teacher. His only sibling and older brother, Cody, is a mechanical engineer.

Both he and his brother began playing soccer at a young age and continue to do so today. Additionally, he enjoys traveling, reading, participating in, coaching, and watching sports.

In June 2010, he graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science degree. More specifically, his degree is in relation to secondary education (grades 7-12) with a focus on mathematics and science. While attending, he played soccer for the university as well.

Professionally, he has enjoyed teaching 7th/8th grade Mathematics to Gifted and Talented students at Creighton Middle School.

Zajac Beck



Lynée Zajac Beck (Mrs ZB) has been teaching since 1997. Her experience ranges from teaching middle school to high school science to college math lab courses. In addition to teaching science at Jeffco Virtual Academy she also serves as the Online Learning Coordinator at Arvada West High School. 

Mrs. ZB grew up in Detroit then moved to Tucson for a scholarship to twirl baton and play soccer at the University of Arizona where she earned an undergraduate degree in Geosciences. After relocating to Colorado, she earned a Masters Degree in Science Inquiry: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado.

Mrs. ZB is a long time vegan and animal advocate, has a husband who has been on Wheel of Fortune, two daughters training to be princess-gymnast-dancers, and loves to experiment with new technology tools. She recently finished training to be a hip hop dance instructor.

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